XPRIZE Foundation Unveils World’s Largest LEGO DNA Sculpture Created by Brick Artist Nathan Sawaya

XPRIZE Foundation Unveils World’s Largest LEGO DNA Sculpture Created by Brick Artist Nathan Sawaya

Playa Vista, CA (April 14, 2011) — The XPRIZE Foundation, best known for launching the private spaceflight industry through the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE and accelerating the ultra, fuel-efficient vehicle market through the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive XPRIZE, today unveiled the world’s largest LEGO DNA sculpture, the “Building Bricks of Life,” as part of its education outreach for the Archon Genomics XPRIZE. Created by famed brick artist Nathan Sawaya, the sculpture stands just under seven feet in height and will be featured as part of the XPRIZE Foundation’s National DNA Day exhibit at the Saint Louis Science Center on April 15.

The XPRIZE Foundation joins the Saint Louis Science Center for a full day of interactive activities on National DNA Day, including the making of Inheritance Bracelets based on several one-gene traits, temporary DNA tattoos, and creating beaded key chains in the form of DNA sequences.

“Just as each brick plays an important part in holding the sculpture together, each gene within the human genome helps us understand more about ourselves as humans and how we are all connected,” said Sawaya. “I am proud that the sculpture will be featured as part of the XPRIZE Foundation’s educational outreach. When I sculpt scientific structures, such as this DNA strand out of a medium kids relate to, it helps kids connect with the concept and furthers the educational aspect.”

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Sawaya’s LEGO creations have been placed in museums throughout the world and have been featured in TV shows such as The Colbert Report, Mythbusters, and Extreme Makeover: Home Edition.

The “Building Bricks of Life” sculpture will also be exhibited to more than 20,000 participants and spectators at the FIRST® Championship in St. Louis, April 26-30, to promote the Foundation’s involvement with the FIRST® LEGO® League and sponsorship of the FIRST® LEGO® League Global Innovation Award presented by the XPRIZE Foundation. The exhibit will include a competition to guess the number of LEGO bricks used to create the “Building Bricks of Life” sculpture.

The LEGO Group, one of the world’s leading manufacturers of play materials for children, demonstrated its commitment to the development of children’s creative and imaginative abilities by introducing Nathan Sawaya to the XPRIZE Foundation and offering the bricks used in the “Building Bricks of Life” sculpture. The sculpture was commissioned by the XPRIZE Foundation in support of the Archon Genomics XPRIZE, which will be awarded to the first team to successfully sequence 100 human genomes in 10 days.

“Mr. Sawaya’s extraordinary creation is an excellent way for us to help educate and raise awareness for the research developments in genomics currently underway, including the Archon Genomics XPRIZE,” said Grant Campany, Senior Director, Archon Genomics XPRIZE. “We are thrilled to have this amazing sculpture as part of our exhibits at National DNA Day and the FIRST® Championship.”


Founded in 1995, the XPRIZE Foundation is the leading nonprofit organization solving the world’s Grand Challenges by creating and managing large-scale, high-profile, incentivized prize competitions that stimulate investment in research and development worth far more than the prize itself. The organization motivates and inspires brilliant innovators from all disciplines to leverage their intellectual and financial capital for the benefit of humanity. The XPRIZE Foundation conducts competitions in four Prize Groups: Education & Global Development; Energy & Environment; Life Sciences; and Exploration (Ocean and Deep Space). Prizes won include the $10 million Ansari XPRIZE for private, suborbital space flight; the $10 million Progressive Insurance Automotive XPRIZE for creating safe, affordable, production-capable vehicles that exceed 100 MPG energy equivalent (MPGe); and the $2 million Northrop Grumman Lunar Lander XCHALLENGE for advanced rocket development. Active prizes include the $30 million Google Lunar XPRIZE, the $10 million Archon Genomics XPRIZE, and the $1.4 million Wendy Schmidt Oil Cleanup XCHALLENGE. 

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