03/07/2012 12:21 EST | Updated 05/07/2012 05:12 EDT

Montreal landmark wins Lego contest, but not Lego immortality

MONTREAL - A Montreal landmark has won an international competition among Lego enthusiasts — but the thrill of victory has been tempered by the sting of rejection.

The Habitat 67 housing complex won an Internet vote, beating out iconic structures like Paris' Eiffel Tower, Rome's Coliseum and the U.S. Capitol Building in Washington D.C.

The Lego company had — without making any promises — said it would consider creating a toy set inspired by the winning entry.

But it now turns out that the Montreal complex won't necessarily be following the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Centre and the White House, all buildings previously immortalized by Lego under its Architecture series.

Lego has announced there won't be a toy version of the quirky Habitat 67, at least not for now. The company says it will consider such a project in the future.

"We can't promise to build it, but we do promise to be inspired by you," the company said.

Designed by Israeli-Canadian architect Moshe Safdie, Habitat 67 is a unique project built for the city's world fair in 1967. It's an integrated series of blocks of housing units near downtown Montreal's waterfront. It was declared a historic site by Quebec in 2009.

Ironically enough, it was originally inspired by Lego blocks.

A spokeswoman for Safdie's architecture firm confirmed that the first models of the building — Safdie's first — were pieced together using Lego.

"Lego did indeed play a role in the design — initial models of the project were built using legos and subsequent iterations were also built with legos," Kate Murphy told The Canadian Press in a recent e-mail.

The Habitat building is made up of 354 identical, prefabricated concrete forms. They are arranged and stacked in various combinations, up to 12 stories high. Habitat was the first building ever designed by Safdie — an extension of his thesis project.

The toy company says it can't commit to building something just because it won a contest.

Lego, which makes various versions of the popular plastic construction block toy, has released a number of sets under its "architecture" series since 2008.

"(Habitat 67) is now a candidate for a future Lego Architecture set, but it takes more than popularity to make the grade as a Lego Architecture icon," the company said.

The company has already moved on to the next phase in its architectural contest. Ten new choices have appeared on Lego's website including San Francisco's Golden Gate Bridge, the Leaning Tower of Pisa and Saint-Basil's Cathedral in Red Square in Moscow.

On the web: http://architecture.lego.com/en-us/inspire-us/