"Oh, no, Mr. Thornhill; there is no George Kaplan."Apparently, there's no Mr. KAPLA, either. The pine blocks bearing that name are the creation of Dutchman Tom van der Bruggen, and the name itself is an abbreviation of “Kabouter Plankjes”, which, the company website tells us, is Dutch for "gnome planks".
They're the kind of blocks Mies might have loved, as they're all based on "progressions of the uneven numbers 1:3:5. 3 thickness for one width and five widths for one length." They don't snap together; the constructions are held together by basic gravity. Add a measure of creativity, and the rectangular blocks can create constructions that are both flexible in shape, and of incredible size and intricacy, as can be seen in the various models posted on the KAPLA USA website.
The master gnomes of KAPLA have visited the Chicago Tourism Center at 72 E. Randolph, and left behind a mini-city of KAPLA towers, ringed by its own Loop L, in which the centerpiece is a soaring replica of the Sears Tower. Courtesy of roving correspondent Bob Johnson of Bowman, Barrett & Associates, we offer you this photo of the Tourism Center installation, which also includes a number of other skyscrapers a la Kapla. (See if you can find the shrunken head version of Taipei 101 in the photo's lower right.)
Staff hopes to keep the installation up for a while, and this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, July 28th and 29th, from 11:00 A.M. to 4:00 P.M., the KAPLA master builders will be back to demonstrate KAPLA building techniques and create replicas of other Chicago landmarks.