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Meet the gay man behind Dulles Airport’s LEGO display

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks

Thanks to Richard Paules

Dulles International Airport in the suburbs of Washington, DC, has long held a special place in the heart of DC gay man Richard Paules. Now he has a place at the airport.

The airport has purchased a model that Paules made from LEGO bricks. It is on permanent display in the Dulles main terminal – in the public area of ​​the terminal, before passengers go through security, so it is available to a wide audience.

“Dulles was the first airport I ever flew from,” says Paules. He was thirteen and an aunt took him to London, a trip that “opened my eyes to the world,” he says.

He was already a LEGO enthusiast. (LEGO, by the way, is a shortened combination of two Danish words, “leg godt,” which means “to play well,” and the company says the name should be capitalized.) He had inherited LEGO sets from his uncles when he was still a kid. was a child.

“As a child, LEGOs were a way for me to express myself artistically, but certainly also a way to escape a bit and a way to decompress,” he recalls. “There’s so much pressure to like the things you’re supposed to like, and I didn’t like baseball. I wasn’t that athletic, but I was very good at this.”

His love of building with LEGO continued into his adulthood, and after creating many other notable models (more on that below), he decided to combine it with his love of Dulles.

photo gallery richard paules lego master famous landmarks dulles airport washington dc

Dulles Airport, Washington DC

Thanks to Richard Paules

“I love Dulles so much,” he says. “I’ve always been fascinated by it and I really wanted to challenge myself to create a modern building, a modernist building. Dulles is so different from all the other buildings, with that big, unsupported roof, and I really challenged myself to figure out how to do that with LEGO.”

It took him about six months to build the model, while he worked after hours as a landscape designer. “I built it for fun, and then Dulles happened to buy it,” he says.

How that happened: “My great friend Scott Cooper, who happens to work for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, saw it on my Instagram, and immediately he asked his higher-ups and advocated for me, saying you gotta see this, you gotta see this . to acquire this. They couldn’t believe I had done it, that they were actually LEGOs.”

It didn’t take much to convince them, Paules notes. “It’s amazing how quickly it all came together,” he says. It went up in the terminal in January.

photo gallery richard paules lego master famous landmarks dulles airport washington dc

Dulles Airport

Thanks to Richard Paules

Paules’ other LEGO models include the White House, the U.S. Capitol, a Renaissance castle, the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts in DC and the Salesforce headquarters in San Francisco. The last two were commissioned by these institutions. He has recently been commissioned to redesign Carpenters’ Hall in Philadelphia as it was when the Founding Fathers met there during the First Continental Congress in 1774. He is thinking of creating a model of DC’s Reagan National Airport and ‘ambitious project’ to create a microscale map of the capital with LEGOs.

LEGO has also played a role in his romantic life. “My amazing partner, we met after a friend set us up, and I later found out that one of the photos he sent him was of me making my LEGO models, and Thomas, my partner , said he fell in love instantly,” says Paules. They have been together for three years.

“He also likes LEGO,” Paules notes. “He follows instructions and I’m a freestyle builder, so we get along great.”

photo gallery richard paules lego master famous landmarks dulles airport washington dc

Dulles Airport

Thanks to Richard Paules

Paules has found many other LGBTQ+ LEGO fans, including some he met at the annual BrickFair LEGO Expo at the Dulles Expo Center. “People just love my work and love that I’m doing this, and I think it brings back a lot of nostalgia for them,” he says. “We have a lot of shared experiences in the queer community” – like his as an unathletic child who took pleasure in expressing himself through LEGOs.

He compares coming out of the LEGO closet to coming out of the gay closet; There is a stigma attached to the fact that you build with LEGO as an adult. “I just hope that everyone in the LGBTQ community is true to themselves and expresses themselves the way they want to, and that they are never afraid to express their creativity, no matter how geeky it is,” he says.

photo gallery richard paules lego master famous landmarks dulles airport washington dc

Dulles Airport

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery richard paules lego master famous landmarks dulles airport washington dc

Dulles Airport

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery richard paules lego master famous landmarks dulles airport washington dc

Dulles Airport

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery richard paules lego master famous landmarks dulles airport washington dc

Dulles Airport

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery richard paules lego master famous landmarks dulles airport washington dc

Dulles Airport

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Piazza San Marco Italy

Piazza San Marco, Italy

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Piazza San Marco Italy

Piazza San Marco, Italy

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Piazza San Marco Italy

Piazza San Marco, Italy

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks The White House Washington DC

The White House, Washington DC

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks The White House Washington DC

The White House, Washington DC

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks The White House Washington DC

The White House, Washington DC

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks The White House Washington DC

The White House, Washington DC

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks The White House Washington DC

The White House, Washington DC

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks The White House Washington DC

The White House, Washington DC

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks The White House Washington DC

The White House, Washington DC

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Westminster Abbey London England UK

Westminster Abbey, London

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Westminster Abbey London England UK

Westminster Abbey, London

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Westminster Abbey London England UK

Westminster Abbey, London

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Westminster Abbey London England UK

Westminster Abbey, London

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Westminster Abbey London England UK

Westminster Abbey, London

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Westminster Abbey London England UK

Westminster Abbey, London

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Vintage Penn Station NYC

Vintage Penn Station, NYC

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Vintage Penn Station NYC

Vintage Penn Station, NYC

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Vintage Penn Station NYC

Vintage Penn Station, NYC

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Vintage Penn Station NYC

Vintage Penn Station, NYC

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Vintage Penn Station NYC

Vintage Penn Station, NYC

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Capitol Building Washington DC

the capital

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Capitol Building Washington DC

The capital

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Capitol Building Washington DC

The capital

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Renaissance feudal castle

Feudal castle from the Renaissance

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Renaissance feudal castle

Feudal castle from the Renaissance

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks Renaissance feudal castle

Feudal castle from the Renaissance

Thanks to Richard Paules

photo gallery Richard Paules Lego Master famous landmarks John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts Washington DC

John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, Washington DC

Thanks to Richard Paules