Luetke Office City Tower Build Step #4 - #7

Okay, not quite a disaster, but something really frustrating!  My 4 1/2 year old iMac seems to be on its last legs.  In an effort to get my computer's performance back to some level of its original performance, I undertook an effort to move my now large iPhoto library (i.e. my pictures) to an external hard drive (I was down to less than 8% of my internal hard drive being free, which somehow means you get an annoying little spinning beach ball when you try to do anything!).  This should be a no-brainer.  And I took precautions (but not all of them, as I should have done an immediate back up before I did anything).  Well, to make a long story short, the bottom line is that I lost several days of photos on this project, which means for Steps 4 - 7 I have no images to guide you along the process.  Boooo!!!

So below is my process for each step through 7, sans photos.  In truth, all four of these steps are about adding the vertical side braces and the floors that attach to them, with some bonus explanations of how I created some interior details and added lighting.

One note: If you have the 11 story extension as I do, STOP right now, scroll down this post and read the section that reads "Weird Things".   You may be glad you did.  If you are just building the 15 story original, keep going....


In Step 3, we laid down the 'soffit plate' on top of the ceiling for the ground floor lobby.  Here in Step 4 we're going to install some strips that will support all the upper floors.

Again, here is the original instructions from the German:

4. In die 4 Kerben der Bodenplatte werden jetzt senkrecht die Nutleisten Df geklebt und bis zur Aushartung senkrecht fixiert.

And the Google-translated English version:
4 notches in the bottom of the plate are now perpendicular Df the groove strips glued and fixed to the cure of vertically.

This is actually a little bit challenging as your going to place the 'groove strips' (labelled "DF", these are easy to identify as they are the long skinny strips with notches in them) vertically into matching notches in the bottom soffit plate.  Getting them to stand straight up while the glue sets is kind of annoying.  Not difficult really, just annoying. 

I used this photo in Step 3, but you can see the 'notches' in the bottom 'soffit plate' that are at equal points around the periphery of the circle, with the 4 sections of the Df vertical braces laying to the sides.


With the 4 vertical support strips now firmly in place - and as vertical as possible, we will add all of the 'upper floors' now (Note: If you also have the 11 story extension as I do, its the same process for that section).  This is a little longer set of steps than the Step 4, and also includes some extra credit too (see below).

Here again in the original German:
5. Stück für Stück werden jetzt die 11 Normalgeschossplatten Dd in die Nutleisten geklebt (Auch hier die Ausrichtung der Kernöffnungen und die senkrechte Ausrichtung der Nutleisten beachten so dass die geschossplatten nicht gegeneinander verdreht verklebt werden)

And the translated English:
Piece by piece, now the 11 normal Dd floor plates are stuck in the groove strips (Again, the orientation of the core holes and the vertical alignment of the groove strips note so that the floor plates are not glued turned against each other)

This step is fairly straight-forward - start adding in the floors!  But before I get into that, there are two additional steps that I took that made this stage a little bit slower than it might normally be:
  • Adding interior details
  • Adding (and soldering wires) for the interior lights
Again, both of those are optional and there are no details or instructions for how to do this with the kit, so you are entirely on your own if you intend to do something similar to me.   Here's what I did:

Interior Details:

This is always a relatively time-consuming task and one that I hope is worthwhile in the final product.   For the interior details on this building, I went with a relatively simple approach attempting to replicate many office style desks without being overly concerned with too much detail.

For the most part, I would cut different styles of styrene (I find the angle or corner sections really useful for this), give them a quick coat of paint, and then glue together.

For chairs, I again used a smaller corner angle section of styrene for the chair seat, then glued that onto a small piece of square styrene for the chair base.  Painted black, they are a reasonable facsimile of an office chair.  Again, I'm not attempting to replicate 1:1 detail, but merely to suggest to the casual viewer that 'something' occurs in this space and the details remind them of that activity (in this case an office).

Interior Lighting:

In Step 3 I basically did most of the work to add lighting to the building's interiors.  What I did in that step was apply 3 SMD LED strips to the ceilings of several floors and then add wire leads.

I also pre-drilled holes in each floor for my 'wire bus' to extend up through the entire structure.  When each floor is added, the brass rods are inserted through each floor, and when the floor is in place it its proper notch, I solder the positive and negative leads from the LED strips to the correct brass rod carrying either the positive or negative current.  Clip off the extra leads and then I'm done! 

Here's another photo from Step 3 that more easily shows the wire leads (note the white and red insulated wires) coming up through the holes where they are soldered to the two brass rods that will extend all the way to the top.  You'll notice at this point that its very easy to solder the wires to the brass rods as there is nothing in your way.
I also use a small amount of tape to tuck in the excess slack of the wires both so they aren't visibly hanging down into the interior, which doesn't look good, and so that they stay out of the way.  In fact, I recommend securing all of the wires before adding the floor and remove any chance of a slack wire getting in the way later! 

Adding the floors:

SO with the lighting and detail 'extra credit' out of the way, we can actually start adding in the floors.  Pretty straight-forward actually.  Slide the floors down between the 4 vertical posts and glue them into their appropriate notch!  However, when you start gluing several in a row, I found (later) that the vertical posts won't stay precisely vertical and you can actually end up with the vertical posts getting mounted to the floors at a slight 'angle' (Maybe more of a 'twist' as the floors all appear vertical).  I don't know how to solve for this unfortunately other than to do your best to ensure that your vertical posts stay as vertical as possible while the glue is drying and be aware that its possible to glue them in at a gradual angle.


Step 6 is another short step where we install the 'soffit plate' on the top of the 4 vertical strips that we just glued all of the floors to.

Here are the original German instructions (including typos from my entry!):
6. Als nachste Ebene klebt man nun die Untersicht Ed bundig auf die Nutleisten.  überstande der Nutleisten werden an der Oberseite gegebenefalls plangeschliffen.

Here is a translated version in English: 
Next level as you stick now the soffit Ed bundig the groove strips. over distances of the groove strips are ground flat on the top if given.

If you read that and don't understand it, well, your not alone!   In truth, I think this is fairly straight forward if you work through whatever translation/typographical errors resulted in the above confusion!

What it comes down to (I think!) is glue in the top plate!  This is doing the reverse of the soffit plate/notched circle piece we did at the bottom.


7. Auf diese Flache klebt man nun, Nut nach oben, deckungsgleich die schwarze Dachterraseenplatte Eb.  (Ausrichtung der Kern offnung beachten)

In this area you stick now, groove up congruent the black roof Terra Lakes Eb. (Alignment of the core opening note).

I have no idea how Google Translate (or my own typographical error from the original!) resulted in "Terra Lakes"!  This has nothing to do with whatever Terra Lakes is.  What we do in this step is attach the 'black/dark grey' top plate on top of the white soffit plate from the previous step.  Again, ensure you keep those half-circle holes aligned!

and then things go to...well, you know....

There are no instructions (German, Google-eese, or otherwise) that explain how to integrate the 15 story original structure and the 11 story extension.  At least not in my packaging.   I noticed from the photos of the completed unit that Luetke provides with the 11 story extension that their photo has 11 stories on the bottom, a circular maintenance band (not sure what to call it, let's call it the 'divider') and then the 15 story section on top (which is weird because the core kit has 15 structures, so you would think the 11 story extension would go on top, right?)!  

This is not how I have been working as (starting with Step 4 above) I already committed my 15 story section to the bottom portion of this building!

Is this bad?

Does it even matter?

The answer to both is-I think - "no".   However, I am going to be flying a bit more blind in the future as whatever remaining instructions that are left talk about how to put the top 'restaurant/observation' level section together are too premature as I have another 11 stories of building to cram in.
  And the instructions are silent on how to add the next 11 stories and the 'divider' - which is what you want to do before you add the 'restuaraunt/observation' level.

So...that's where we will go next.  A little less reliance on German translation and some good old American ingenuity. Well, we'll see where that ends up.

Hopefully better than my missing iPhoto pictures.


  1. Wow, sorry to hear about your computer problems. I'm paranoid about photo loss, and keep multiple backups of my library on separate external disks, and sync the library to at least one before erasing the camera's memory card (I use disks with two partitions, one for Time Machine and one for separate files like my photo vault, and both have saved my bacon at least once).

    Back to the model: I'm not a fan of following directions slavishly when building a kit, but I'd be terrified of building one that complex without the instructions as a guide to how the designers expected it to go together. Using hand-copied German instructions in a machine translator was bad enough, but not having anthing for the combined version? Aieee!

    I infer from your post and the one photo that you're soldering the wires from the lights to the rod on the floor above where the lights are. I wouldn't have thought of that, as I'd expect to keep the wires close to the lights. Are the rods screened from view by something, or are you expecting wires along the rod to just be too subtle a detail for people to see?

    As an alternative method, have you considered using copper tape with conductive adhesive and just wrapping it around the rod (below the ceiling, which could be hard to do through the available hole, even with needlenose pliers)?

  2. Hi Ken!

    Yes, I'm equally paranoid about photos. In fact I have Time Machine backups as well as manually copying all files to yet another hard drive - just to be safe! However, when I transferred my latest photos to the external drive I didn't backup the week or so of photos that I had just imported. It wasn't that many and I didn't want to wait an hour plus for a full back up becuase, hey, I'm still copying all of them to the external hard drive anyway! But once I had them copied it turned out that the 'last import' didn't get moved and instead all copies of those photos wound up in the trash!

    Yeah, flying a bit blind...I know there will be some errors, we'll see....

    The brass rods will sort of be hard to see...they sit in between two interior columns right at the center of the building. They are visible if you look REALLY hard, but they aren't noticeable at all.

    I like using copper tape (it worked great on my station platforms which were long and flat), but I don't think that would have worked too well for the reasons you described when you are going 'up'!

  3. Jerry: Take your Mac to the nearest Mac store or drive recovery service. They may be able to resurrect it.