DIY Magnetic Sphere Empire State Building Made From Scratch

This model Empire State Building is completely made of out magnets.
Christopher McFadden

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If you enjoyed our recent tutorial on making your own railgun using magnets, then you might be on the market for some more magnet madness. How about, for example, making a replica Empire State Building? 

Does that sound fun? Then read on. 

magnet empire state building complete
Source: Magnetic Games/YouTube

But first, as you might imagine, you'll need some stuff first.

Materials and gear needed

  • Neodymium magnet spheres (various colors)

With all your tools and materials in hand, it is now time to get on with this magnet monster. 

Setup 1: Make the lower levels

The first step is to take your spherical magnets and make some building block cubes from them. To do this, take a variety of colors (in this case green, black, blue, silver, crimson, and purple) and stick the balls together to make 6 by 6 by 6 cubes. 

The colors don't really matter as these will be hidden inside the building once finished. With these, build a tower of twelve of the blocks 3 high by 2 wide. 

magnet empire state building start tower
Source: Magnetic Games/YouTube

Next, take a pile of gold spherical magnets and make two double sheets 12 by 18. Attach one sheet to either side of the main starting block. 

magnet empire state building side walls
Source: Magnetic Games/YouTube

Rinse and repeat to make two more sidewalls, and attach them to the other two exposed sides. 

Next, start to add some decorative features to the outside of the tower using different colored spheres -- like silver ones. Trim off areas of the outer face of the golden spheres, and replace them with your silver ones as you please. 

Also start to build out the walls to match the topography of the real Empire State Building as best you can. You can do this layer by layer to make the process as simple as possible. 

magnet empire state building build up base
Source: Magnetic Games/YouTube

Step 2: Make the next level

Next, take another set of 6 by 6 by 6 cubes, and create a tower 10 by 4 of the blocks. Again you can use whatever colors you want here -- you won't see them in the final piece. 

As with the base, you can add different colors to the outside of the faces by slicing off one layer at a time and replacing them with an equally sized sheet of, say, silver, spheres. 

In this case, two outer walls were "clad" in silver spheres. Then, the tower was split in half down its center and reversed to move the silver layers to the middle of two of the faces of the tower. 

magnet empire state building middle layer
Source: Magnetic Games/YouTube

Once you are happy, mount this middle portion of the building to the main base you created earlier. Next, create some more sheets of silver spheres and clad two sides of this portion of the tower completely. 

This should leave two of the faces with multi-colored appearances on the edges. 

magnet empire state building side cladding
Source: Magnetic Games/YouTube

Next, make some single-ball thickness sheets of golden spheres to match the full length of this middle part of the building and 5 balls wide. Use these magnet-strips to cover the multi-colored portions of the other two sides. 

magnet empire state building front cladding
Source: Magnetic Games/YouTube

With that done, clad the other two sides with another single-sphere thick sheet of magnets. Make sure it is the same dimensions as the side of the building to completely clad it.

magnet empire state building second cladding
Source: Magnetic Games/YouTube

Next, make some more sheets of silver spheres to the same dimensions as the gold strips you previously made. Clad the front of the golden parts with these new strips to build out the walls of the front and back. 

magnet empire state building build out front
Source: Magnetic Games/YouTube

Where needed, use single "strings" of magnet spheres to fill in any gaps on the building to hide any unwanted colors from the core. 

Step 3: Create the top floors

Next, make some more 6 by 6 by 6 blocks of multicolored cubes. Using the cubes make a larger cube of 4 by 4 of these cubes. 

Next, cut off a strip of spheres 2 spheres deep to leave one dimension of the cube 10 spheres long rather than 12. 

With that done, replace a small strip of the colored magnets 6 spheres wide by 10 spheres long in the middle of one side of the larger cube. Then place the cube in the middle of the main assembly. 

magnet empire state building top deck
Source: Magnetic Games/YouTube

With that done, begin to create and add silver sphere cladding to the walls of the cube. Be sure not to obscure the main building features like the characteristic groove gouge in the front and rear of the building's facade. 

With that done, create a cuboid of spheres 12 by 12 by 4. Mount this to the very top of the main assembly. Then, using a "string" of single spheres, run this around the base to hide the core colors. 

magnet empire state building seal top deck
Source: Magnetic Games/YouTube

With that done, add progressively smaller single-sphere layers of magnets to create a step-pyramid of sorts to the top. 

magnet empire state building taper top
Source: Magnetic Games/YouTube

Step 4: Thicken the outside of the tower where needed and finish the piece

Next, continue to build up the outside surface of the tower to mimic the design of the real building as needed. For example. add extra layers to the base to create the buttressed base. 

magnet empire state building build up base
Source: Magnetic Games/YouTube

Keep adding sheets and single strings of spheres where needed. 

magnet empire state building thicken base
Source: Magnetic Games/YouTube

Once done, we can now continue to form the top of the tower. 

Make a cylinder of magnetic spheres, and mount this to the very top of the model Empire State Building. 

megnetic empire state building very top
Source: Magnetic Games/YouTube

Next, make a smaller diameter cylinder, and add this on top of the other. With that done, take a metal rod of some kind, and insert this into the very center of the top cylinder to make the lightning rod of the tower.

magnet empire state building tower rod
Source: Magnetic Games/YouTube

With that done, your magnificent magnetic Empire State Building is now fully built. Now just stand back and admire your hard work! What a beauty. 

If you enjoyed this project, you may enjoy another model-building themed project?  How about, for example, making your own diorama of a zombie apocalypse


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