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Bethany man's creation landing at Bricks Cascade

Jeff Bergquist's biggest LEGO space craft on display


TIMES PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Jeff Bergquist of Bethany shows the compartments of a space ship that he made from LEGOs. Bergquist is one of the organizers of Bricks
Cascade this weekend at the Oregon Convention Center in Portand.Like a lot of kids, Jeff Bergquist was into LEGOs as a kid and then drifted away from building with plastic bricks as a teenager.

But Bergquist drifted back in during his 20s. Well, not so much drifted as blasted back at warp speed.

Today the Bethany resident, an engineer by day, spends hundreds of hours of his free time building LEGO space ships both large and small.

“It’s definitely my creative outlet,” Bergquist said, “my place to let my imagination go where it’s going to go.”

Several of his greatest creations will be at this weekend’s Bricks Cascade convention and public exhibition at the Oregon Convention Center in Portland, where Bergquist also is an event organizer with the Portland nonprofit Bricklandia.

The four-day convention (it opens Thursday and continues through Sunday) will undoubtedly draw in some die-hard brick builders (“brick” is a generic term for the plastic building pieces made by LEGO and other brands) like Bergquist. But the public exhibition on Saturday and Sunday brings people in by the many thousands who want to get a load of what creative minds can do with loads of molded plastics.

And it is a load.

Take Bergquist’s Aurora, a 6-foot long behemoth with retractable wings, extending weapons pods and blinking lights inspired by science fiction programs such as “Star Trek” and “Battlestar Galactica.”

The Aurora weighs at least 50 pounds and contains so many bricks — possibly 7,000 to 8,000 pieces — that Bergquist himself is “really not completely sure.”

It took him an estimated 350 hours to design and build the ship a few years back, including time spent with computer-aided design software he also uses to lead a team of engineers who develop medical devices. To make room for all this in his small home office, and to come up with all those parts, he dismantled an earlier ship named the Dresden.

Bergquist said that attending local brick conventions starting back in 2009 is what inspired him to take his hobby to new heights and also start working with event organizers.

“Seeing all the creators there just inspired me to get something together and just do it,” he said.

He describes himself as a hobbyist who also likes to play with LEGOs with his 5-year-old son, rather than the more advanced master builders who live and breathe bricks.

Still, he’s pretty deep into the hobby.

Bergquist’s collection of LEGOS and specialty bricks fills storage cabinets lining two walls of his small home office. Tables and ceiling hooks are laden with his space-themed creations. His laptop is relegated to a small desk in the corner.

“My wife supports my habit,” he said, “but it has to stay within my home office.”

Bricks Cascade

For those who want to see the Aurora and many other brick creations in person, the Bricks Cascade 2016 public exhibition runs 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday in the Oregon Convention Center’s Oregon Ballroom.

Admission is $9 per person ($32 for a family of four) and free for children ages 3 and younger.

For more information about the public exhibition and convention, go to brickscascade.com.