Graduating student’s love for architecture started with a lego set

Marcus Riley is about to graduate from the School of Architecture’s five-year program. His love for the architectural field started with a lego set at a young age.
Photo Courtesy: Marcus Riley

When he was 12 years old, Marcus Riley’s parents gave him a Lego City building set for Christmas.

“It took me only two days to finish building the Lego City,” said Riley, who is completing the School of Architecture’s five-year program at the University of Miami. “That’s when I started to realize my passion for architecture.”

Throughout elementary and middle school, Riley enjoyed playing with Legos, which ignited his interest in designing and building small-scale cities.

After school, he would spend hours thinking of new ways to design and develop Lego sculptures. His grandmother, Jennifer Riley, would help him come up with new ideas and ways to create a new building or bridge.

“She would always help me create new Lego designs that differed from the directions in the Lego box set,” Riley said. “Her interest in my passion for architecture is what truly drove me to pursue it as a career.”

For his final senior design project, Riley is creating a model representation of a new downtown Miami convention center.

The project is the culmination of many nights of hard work, he said.

“Some of the hardest moments of my college career came from sitting in the School of Architecture studios for entire nights, focused on perfecting my blueprint designs,” Riley said.

The idea that his college career is almost over, is “finally sinking in.”

“It feels that just yesterday I was with my grandma with my Lego set,” Riley said. “Now I’m sending out my resume to a number of construction companies. It’s kind of scary, honestly.”