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Sun Valley’s Roundhouse Has New Incarnation in Legos
Thomas Cross says that seeing his Roundhouse in a Lego store would be a dream come true for him and, he hopes, many Sun Valley fans.
Sunday, November 12, 2023


Sun Valley Resort’s historic Roundhouse Restaurant has been a source of awe since workers modeled the octagonal lodge after a railroad switching station in 1939.

Now, a Los Angeles man has created the Roundhouse out of Legos. And he’s hoping Sun Valley fans will cast votes of support to get the design into toy stores by going online at

His use of the interlocking bricks does seem to have caught the eye of Lego workers, as it was just selected as a “Staff Pick,” meaning it’s on the front page of Lego ideas.

Inside Thomas Cross’s Roundhouse skis and trophies sit on the mantle and skiers prepare to take their tables.

“I visited Sun Valley this past year in March for a week with my Dad,” said Thomas Cross. “It was a nice time of bonding and we had so much fun. We were taken by the beauty of all the lodges on the mountain but felt the Roundhouse was really neat. I’ve been to a lot of ski lodges over the years but I’d never seen a circular full-on structure that’s permanent on the mountain before. And the culture as so cool with the neat architecture and fondue.”

It just so happened that Cross had gotten back into building things with Legos after having played with them as a child growing up in Yakima. Upon learning that there’s a community of adults who design Legos creations as a hobby, he made an A-frame cabin. Then he decided he could make something unique by building the Roundhouse in Legos.

He immersed himself in the history of the building, which was built by Union Pacific Railroad at 7,700 feet on Bald Mountain. He was limited to 3,000 Legos, per rules.

“The idea of creating a round structure was compelling because you rarely see sets without 90-degree walls,” Cross said. “As I got further along in the process, I remembered the Yoda Hut from one of my first sets, which reminded me of how fun a round structure can be to actually build.”

A hostess takes reservations while a woman relaxes on the sofa.

Cross made the roof and walls so they can be removed to make the interior accessible. Inside, he designed the Roundhouse’s massive stone fireplace, which can be viewed from any of the tables  situated around it. He replicated the mantle with its various trophies, added a wood-fired pizza oven, space heaters on the outdoor patio and—just for fun--frozen plumbing.

“Whether it’s the “RH” embroidered into the carpeting, the skis mounted to the chimney or the herringbone wood floors, every element invites you to look deeper,” he said.

The writer’s strike abetted his quest, as his work as a film writer and producer temporarily came to a halt.

“It took me six months to build the Roundhouse,” said Cross, who was the production assistant on “The Mandalorian Season Three” and the Netflix series “Dahmer.” “Lego has a software program you can download from their website to design your own building. But it’s hard to get Legos that go together in a circle and octagonal structures like the Roundhouse have different angles for the walls so it was challenging. But, with the writer’s strike going on, it was a nice outlet as opposed to playing video games.”

Santa helps himself to a drink at the Italian soda bar.

The Roundhouse piece has been posted on the Legos Ideas website. If it gets 10,000 likes, the design goes to Lego headquarters where designers will decide if they want to make it for their toy line.

“I find that pretty neat,” said Cross. “It’s like a democratization of the design process. If the fans like it, Lego will consider making something.”

Cross plans to return to Ketchum next summer to officiate the wedding of his best friend who is marrying a Ketchum local. And he can’t wait to see the Roundhouse in summer.

“I really want to see my version of the Roundhouse actually end up on the toy shelves. It would be really cool to walk into the Roundhouse and look at the fireplace mantle and see my Roundhouse built in Legos on display. It would be the coolest feeling ever.”

A Sun Valley employee serves Italian sodas while brick oven pizzas line up on the counter behind him.


The Roundhouse was closed and used for storage for three years during the late 1990s before being remodeled and reintroduced to the public as the gem that it is today.

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