Our Terms of Service and Privacy Policy have changed.

By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to the new Privacy Policy and Terms of Service.

A founder's hobby: Building (model) bridges

A financial architect by day, Mark Filippell moonlights as a builder of landmark Cleveland bridges.

EMAIL  |   PRINT  |   SHARE  |   RSS
 
google my aol my msn my yahoo! netvibes
Paste this link into your favorite RSS desktop reader
See all CNNMoney.com RSS FEEDS (close)

bridges.03.jpg

(FORTUNE Small Business) -- Mark Filippell thinks macro during the day; at night he goes micro. As a founding partner of boutique investment firm Western Reserve Partners, he manages mergers and acquisitions. To unwind, the Cleveland entrepreneur crafts 1:87 scale versions of his city's bridges.

"So much of what I do at work is cerebral," says Filippell, 54. "Constructing bridges - it's relaxing."

Filippell's obsession with building bridges started three years ago, when he and his partners were working 12-hour days to close their first major deal, worth around $60 million.

"I would lie awake at night, stressed, then have nightmares," he says. "My wife suggested I find something to do that would relax me."

He starts by tracking down the original blueprints and then photographing every angle of the bridge. It's no easy feat. His quest to replicate the Cuyahoga Viaduct Bridge required some fast talking to persuade the Greater Cleveland Regional Transit Authority to dig up the blueprints and arrange for the head bridge inspector to monitor the site while he took photographs.

Filippell recently unveiled his latest effort: a red, 72-inch replica of B&O Railroad Bridge No. 464, which took seven months and $400 in materials - including a LEGO nine-volt motor - to construct.

"Model bridges is a kind of art form among railroad hobbyists - I didn't know it was for guys doing investment banking," says Bill Barrow, a special collections librarian at Cleveland State University. "But his are first-rate examples of scale-model building."

When asked about his next project, Filippell laughs and shrugs in a non-committal way.

"I want him to do this lift bridge in Cleveland that moves laterally, like an elevator," says Joe Carson, another managing director at Western Reserve. "But Mark hasn't stepped up yet."  To top of page

To write a note to the editor about this article, click here.

Features
They're hiring!These Fortune 100 employers have at least 350 openings each. What are they looking for in a new hire? More
If the Fortune 500 were a country...It would be the world's second-biggest economy. See how big companies' sales stack up against GDP over the past decade. More
Sponsored By:
How to enjoy Paris like a local Leave the tourist trail behind and enjoy wine, gastronomy, perfume, art, dance like a Parisian. More
Playboy founder Hugh Hefner through the years Cultural icon Hugh Hefner pushed barriers with his controversial Playboy magazine. He died at the age of 91. More
5 innovators: How we deal with stress The founders of companies like Allbirds, Robinhood and Paperless Post talk about how they deal with stress. More

Sponsors