A retail store that’s also a sanctuary and school for builders.
By Laura Wolstenholme
Photography by Candace Sweet
When my two Lego-maniacs were younger, they yearned for a Lego play-land closer to home than the official one in Carlsbad, California. They needed a place to build and rub elbows with other brick-clicking buddies. Now, it’s finally happened. Bricknowlogy opened this spring at Eagle Plaza in Eagle, calling to local children from all walks of life. Cleverly constructed with bright Lego-like panels on the ceiling and walls, Bricknowlogy boasts custom-designed play tables by owner Dean Barry. The indoor space is a sanctuary and retail store for budding builders.
Bricknowlogy is the brainchild of Barry, who, like many, grew up loving Lego. Barry still has the Lego set his father gave him when he was four, and he owns another 5000 kits or so, making him a surefire contender for a Guinness World Record.
Although Barry is passionate about Legos, he hopes Bricknowlogy inspires kids to imagine and create, not just have fun. Through experience with his own children, he has seen the creative side of building fall away in favor of just completing kits, rather than open-minded, imaginative construction. It’s through building their own ideas that children learn the basic concepts of architecture and engineering, Barry says.
At Bricknowlogy, children have at their fingertips bricks of all sizes, shapes and colors to build their own unique structures and forms. Projects and classes for all ages are available ranging from fun and casual to a more intricate class for serious-minded builders. Children are encouraged to think abstractly, something not often taught in schools.
Barry says, “Building something happy, or building something cold,” can encourage children to think outside the box and express their feelings in a unique and stimulating medium.
Barry’s 20-year career in technology has equipped him not only to help developing children, but also to help students construct Lego’s most sophisticated models and sets. For Lego go-getter and teenagers, Barry has created Bricknowolgy University, or BKU, a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) educational program. Inside BKU, advanced concepts such as architectural design principles, robotic computer programming, motor construction, and gearing ratios are covered.
Lego is highlighted at Bricknowlogy, but other types of building materials are available as well, including Lincoln Logs, Duplo, Nanoblocks, and even the intricate K-Nex.
“It’s just too fun to leave out,” says Barry.
Bricknowlogy offers building sets for sale in addition to the construction zones and classes. Barry handpicks each set for “play value and educational experience,” ensuring only the best of the best makes it into his store. Additionally, kits can be rented at a low cost and individual bricks and figures can be purchased separately from kits—a relief to anyone who has been infuriated by a missing piece.
New ways to use Legos have proliferated since the first brick was manufactured last century, and Bricknowlogy keeps itself current. Ever heard of “Bricktures”? A favorite photo is printed on a field of bricks, creating a unique portrait and fun puzzle. Barry does a lot of novel things with bricks, and one of his most ambitious projects consisted of turning just a few photos into a fully realized, three-dimensional model. Barry constructed a magnificent Lego model of the USS Constitution from just photos. The ship took over six thousand pieces and several hundred hours to build. It’s on Bricknowlogy’s Facebook page, for those interested in viewing it. Bricknowlogy also keeps up with current building trends, including the SNOT or “studs not on top” building style. This style involves more intricate building in an effort to keep the raised tops of pieces out of sight.
Barry emphasizes his door is open to everyone, and he hopes boys and girls of all ages will come in and share his passion. Bricknowlogy will without a doubt be a magnet for those in the Treasure Valley. At any age, Brickknowlogy promises fun, camaraderie, and most importantly: a challenge.