Larnopolis wasn't built in a day.
It took about eight, actually. And dozens of children, who helped artist Seth Gadsden build the cardboard city from the ground up at Larne Elementary School in Clover.
The finished work, sprawled across the school's activity room, was a campuswide art project that Gadsden tied into math, science, English and social studies lessons. For the next two weeks, teachers and students will use it as a learning laboratory.
While most schools incorporate art projects to stimulate creativity in young minds, rarely does an endeavor engage an entire campus and command as much space as Larne's metropolitan undertaking.
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"In fourth grade, you don't really get field trips," said Jasmine Alpizar-Sanchez, 10. "This is kind of like one, but you get to make it."
"It's just a big, fun project that every school should have a chance to do," said Alexis Alexander, 9.
While Gadsden worked, word spread quickly around campus and even outside.
Students with restroom passes wandered down the hall to see the city. Children in the YMCA's neighboring after-school program lobbied to help. Custodians visited often to snap cellphone photos.
"Larnopolis" is an elaborate 25-foot-by-30-foot composition that reaches 25 feet tall and encompasses 15 cardboard replicas of well-known buildings and monuments from around the world.
The Empire State Building stands across the street from the U.S. Capitol and around the corner from the Golden Gate Bridge. Just down the river, Seattle's Space Needle stands beside the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum. Those are flanked by Clover's American Thread Company building and the Catawba Indian Reservation.
"It's kind of like bringing the whole world together in one," fifth-grader Jeremie Connor said. "It's like you're really there studying it."
Nearly every student at the school had a hand in the project.
Gadsden and art teacher Debbie Faulkner had them research each of the buildings and create posters.
Some laid green paper grass. Others cut cardboard and construction paper and colored in windows. A fifth-grade math class incorporated a lesson on area and perimeter to put down roads. Fourth-graders helped put together working street lamps using battery-powered LED lights.
"It allows kids to come in and get involved and get active while I'm telling them things," said Gadsden, whom the town of Clover hired last year to paint a mural of balloons in flight on a Boyd Tire and Appliance wall downtown. "It was important for them not just to see it, but to know they had contributed."
Faulkner and Gadsden first discussed the idea of building a giant cardboard city three years ago.
"It's just kind of been on the back burner," Faulkner said.
As an arts integration teacher, Faulkner's job is to work with teachers around campus to bring art into the curriculum. In a recent science class, she taught students to sculpt three-dimensional maps of the ocean floor.
Larnopolis was a chance to bring everything together at once.
For instance, during a fifth-grade lesson on force and motion, students will bring model cars that they built and test them on the city's roads of varying surfaces, including plastic and sandpaper.
What will ultimately become of the city is still somewhat up in the air. But without a storage place, keeping it appears to be out of the question.
Faulkner expects to have to tear it down, which she might do in a theatrical production in which a student dressed as a Godzilla-like creature demolishes the buildings.
For now, though, the school is enjoying life in the city.
Who is Seth Gadsden?
To see more of artist Seth Gadsden's work, visit sethgadsden.com. Gadsden is a Clover native. He is married to a Herald reporter.