Bryan Berg’s (USA) path to GWR fame stretches all the way back to when he was eight. That’s when his grandfather taught him the rudiments of card stacking. Bryan was hooked, and over the years he’s raised this pastime to a fine art, helped by a steady hand and boundless patience. And also by his academic studies: he has a Professional Degree in Architecture from Iowa State University and a Masters Degree in Design Studies from Harvard University.
At their heart, Bryan’s playing-card masterpieces are built around small, four-card cells. To make sure his template could withstand significant weights, Bryan sought the advice of structural engineers and tested it in lab conditions. Without folding any cards, or using glue, sticky tape, or any other supporting structure, Bryan’s grid-like arrangement of cells can support a pressure of 660 lb per square ft (3,222 kg-force/m2). He learned a few basics early on: for example, stick to cheaper packs, as more expensive playing cards tend to have glossier surfaces and will slip more easily.
In 1992, his talents earned Bryan a Guinness World Records title when he constructed the then Tallest house of cards, in his home town of Spirit Lake, Iowa, USA. It stood 4.42 m (14 ft 6 in) high. Bryan was just 19 when he built that record-breaking, 75-storey masterpiece, and he had plenty more tricks up his sleeve. Seven years later, in the lobby of a casino in Berlin, Germany, he created the Most storeys in a free-standing house of cards: 131. The tower measured 7.71 m (25 ft 3 in) tall and comprised 91,800 cards:
Altogether, Bryan has bettered his 1992 record for the tallest house of cards nine times. He completed the most recent iteration on 16 October 2007 in Dallas, Texas, USA – a towering structure that measured 7.86 m (25 ft 9 in) tall. It required 1,100 decks of playing cards and plenty of scaffolding:
In 2012, Bryan met up with GWR to tell us more about his skills and what inspired him, and also to share a few tricks of the trade:
Since his first GWR title, Bryan has branched out creatively, and has stacked up all kinds of playing-card-based marvels. Check out this awesome re-creation of the Rhode Island State House:
No matter how large or complicated the structure, Bryan’s projects always end the same way. To demonstrate that he hasn’t used any hidden supports in his constructions – but also because it’s a massive release and a whole heap of fun – Bryan publicly destroys them. Check out his dramatic dismantling of the largest playing-card structure (based on The Venetian® Macao, Plaza Macao and Sands Macao) in Macao, China, on 10 March 2010. Comprising 218,792 cards, it took more than 40 days to create, but just a few minutes to level to the ground:
To find out more about Bryan, and see more videos about the extraordinary card constructions he’s built along the way, go to: