MOC - The Biltmore Estate
After around 120 hours of tedious work, I have finally completed my MOC of the Biltmore Estate. I'll tell a little history behind the building itself first and then just right into how I went about tackling this monstrosity of a home!
The Biltmore Estate was built for George Washington Vanderbilt II, son of William Henry Vanderbilt. Built because he loved traveling to the Ashville, NC area so much he wanted a summer home that he could escape to. Construction started in 1889 and finished in 1896. It required over 1,000 people to complete the home, having to build a 3 miles railway extension to get materials to and from the site. It even had it's own brick kiln made to supply the large quantity of bricks to the build and woodworking shop. It is STILL the largest private home at 178,926 square feet. It has had a long history, from a main residence to storage for works of art during WWII. In 1963 it became a National Historic Landmark. It is a huge tourist attraction bringing in 1.4 million people a year to Ashville. This is one of the most iconic Gilded Age homes in the United States.
I traveled to this house when I was 13 years old and loved it. I have always been an architecture fan and this home made me fall in love. I have always wanted to construct the home in LEGOs but never had the full means to.
So LEGO did a Rebrick contest on architecture so I jumped at the opportunity to construct this manor. At about 1,700 pieces it is still am impressive model I did submit it with a few other entries so will have to see who wins on August 16th! So I built the house, but wanted to go a bit further. So I went onto Google Earth and went to town on the entire main Estate.
7,796 pieces, and over 100 hours of work. Overall we see the main house at the bottom. On the far left you'll see the stables and the stables courtyard. In front of the house is the main driveway with the viewing hill to look to over the entrance and the Biltmore Manor. To the right of the main house is the library and south terraces. Then from the south terrace on are the immense gardens.
I always take into account how big I will be design my models. So i pick the most iconic section of a build and work backwards to make everything else fit into the model. For the Biltmore it was the main entryway. It took some time to get the right peak to the roof and angles with the windows. Most of the roof has copper so I used sand green. For the peak of the roof I used minifigure ski poles. Then building the roof line for the entire house was the longest process to complete. With different levels of pitch I had to use all the techniques I could figure out to make them work properly. The inside support structures aren't pretty, but they do they job in creating a stable frame of the exterior.
With so many chimneys, some had to be incorporated as hinges on the roof or built out of the tops. The spires of some sections are the unicorn horns in the sand green. While most fo the build is dark bluish gray for the roof and tan for the house.
The rear of the house shows how the basement levels, or servant quarters area is at a different level then the main house. It created some complications on if I was building a main base for the estate. but I decided to scrap that and just go with what was most accurate. So most of the model isn't at the same level.
I built in the skylight of the main gardens inside the house. I thought it turned out great even able to see some of the greenery inside.
To the side of the main house is the stables. This roof was particularly difficult to scale since it wasn't a large structure and had many different pitches. It has a courtyard areas that is between it and the main house that actually has umbrellas in it with the parking lot entrance at the bottom in the sand red which would be nice if it was in more colors for brick style.
The library Terrace has full garden vines covering it and the large arch windows shown for the library. This leads out on the south terrace.
Same issue with level of scale but turned out well being so flat. I is a lot larger than expected but built with tiles looks great.
At the front of the mansion, there is a leveling up of stairs that lead to a observation area that people look out at the front of the Biltmore. This was hard to get the angles right because too high a pitch it would be 3 bricks tall. I added small details such as shrubs and statues. and added the main gates.
Simple design but having the 1x1 panel to shown the gate opened gave it a welcoming feel.
Standing onto of the observation level, this is the classic look that people would see. (changed the color of the water since everything else was green and there was no trans piece).
First of the gardens, fairly simple but using the curved tiles created the pools necessary. I wish they had inverted curved or 1x1 wedge tiles, tiny details make all the difference. It included some 1x1 round for statues and dark green and green grass alternating.
I have to admit, this was the hardest garden to build. It has many different elevations and of course tons of shrubs! I constructed some of these for hours just to get them as them as accurate as possible. The path shows the difference in elevation and has a vine garden over at the back near the south terrace.
Within the walled section of the gardens are the Walled Garden and the Rose Garden. Both were the hardest to scale. There is insane detailing in the footpaths between all the flowerbeds. As each area is angled downwards towards the conservatory, I used it create multilayered design given the paths more accuracy.
Colors matter. This was hard to accept that I couldn't get all the right colors for the paths. I WOULD have liked to use sand red BUT it is very limited in color pallet. So I used orange which still worked somewhat okay. I added the curved area with the hinges to create the shrubs wrapped around the curved path.
Conservatory and A Gardener's Place
Probably the easiest build of them all. It's all glass! Some of the arch work isn't as accurate but there are limited arches to use at this scale It does have multiple levels so having 1x1 bricks for windows and the car park lots of plates used to create the level changes.
I have added the extra photos below for the further details. Building something as massive as you can is fun, but the real challenges I find are building smaller scale. I have entered the Biltmore Estate home in the Rebrick contest. I am considering adding it to the LEGO Ideas page. What do you thing? I'd love any tips, adjustments you see, but be as harsh as possible! I like to always improve! Thank you for taking the time to read this post! If you just skimmed for pictures, I do the same thing sometimes too!
P.S. if we have enough interest I may post the .io file...