Posted March 5, 2024

Meet the Women Behind the First “Real-Life LEGO” Building

Celebrating Women in Construction Week, March 3-9.

A revolutionary way to build, with real-life LEGO-bricks, is disrupting the construction industry, and a group of women are playing a key role in making this innovation happen. This Women in Construction Week, March 3-9, Coastal Construction and RENCO USA are celebrating the seven women who helped complete the first project in America with RENCO’s new building system in Palm Beach County, Florida.

“As a woman working in the construction industry for more than 30 years, I’ve seen so much change, but simplifying building with a real-life LEGO building system is one of the most innovative projects I’ve helped move forward,” said Lisa Hamilton, Coastal Construction Vice President.

“By building with RENCO, we are making structures stronger and more sustainable. As we face intensifying storms and the threats of climate change, it is rewarding to know we are creating stronger homes and buildings that can last for generations to come.”

Coastal Construction’s Lisa Hamilton (Vice President); Karlie Fike (Coastal Construction Family of Companies Business Development); Veronica Velarde (Senior Project Engineer); Sharon Mitchell (Contractor Administrator); Julie Adams (Senior Creative Lead) Silvana Patino (Executive Assistant); Lori Weingarten (Executive Assistant)—are the ladies behind the successful construction with RENCO at Lakewood Village.

“To have success as a woman in construction, you’ve got to be a total team player and believe in what you're doing. While I work behind-the-scenes, I’m able to help connect the dots in research, special projects and compliance,” said Lori Weingarten, RENCO USA Executive Assistant.

“My belief in RENCO’s inventive, outside-the-box, approach and the people I work with, motivate me on a daily basis.”

The reality is just about 10 percent of construction jobs are held by women. For more than 25 years, Women in Construction Week™, has celebrated and promoted the role of women in the construction industry.

This year's theme, 'Keys to the Future', celebrates the strength and knowledge of women and the vital role they play in shaping the future of the construction industry. Karlie Fike is one of them and is known as one of few women advancing new technology in construction, from using artificial intelligence to building with RENCO USA.

“It is rewarding to work on innovation from the ground up, starting with an idea and ending with a revolutionary way to build. Construction is challenging and there are always unexpected hurdles along the way,” Karlie Fike, Coastal Construction Family of Companies Business Development Executive and Sales & Marketing Coordinator for RENCO USA.

“But we hope to show the next generation of young women entering our industry that this is a career to consider—especially if you love managing complexity and seeing the tangible results of teamwork.”

RENCO is one of those innovations. Made with repurposed resins, glass fibers and naturally occurring elements, the renewable composite material is certified to withstand Category 5 hurricanes. The building system uses interlocking molded blocks similar to LEGO bricks, reduces costs significantly, and allows for rapid construction.

At Lakewood Village, 11 unskilled workers assembled each of the three-story buildings in about eight weeks, following color-coded plans. Following more than 12 years of research and development, RENCO USA successfully completed its inaugural apartment complex last November, having successfully passed more than 400 safety tests to design and install its products under the International Building Code.

For the women behind this project, it’s been a labor of love.

“When I talk to young women about working in construction, I tell them that I love what I do and that our industry has a role fit for them. They can do anything they’re dedicated to and passionate about - there are no limits,” Fike added.

About Coastal Construction

Award-winning Coastal Construction Group and the Murphy family have been building projects throughout Florida for more than five decades and have become one of the largest general contractors in Florida. Coastal currently has operations in Miami, Palm Beach, Naples, Orlando, Tampa and the Florida Keys.

Coastal specializes in hospitality, single and multi-family residential, education, commercial and mixed-use projects. Their distinguished portfolio includes, among others: Four Seasons Hotel and Residences at the Surf Club; St. Regis Resort & Residences Bal Harbor; Ritz-Carlton Hotel South Beach; Faena Hotel and Residences; 1450 Brickell; Porsche Design Tower; Fendi Chateau; Oceana Condos; Residences by Armani Casa; Aston Martin Residences; and The Plaza Coral Gables. In addition, the Company was the primary builder for Ocean Reef Club, Deering Bay Club, Miami Design District, Miami Worldcenter and Water Street Tampa.


Florida-based RENCO USA manufactures and distributes a fully patented structural building system made from renewable composites. Its state-of-the-art building system is composed of interlocking composite pieces that are all adhesively joined into a monolithic structure. It includes the entire structure of a building, from the walls (structural building blocks), to the floor joists (pultruded), to the floor (composite decking). Simply put, it’s an alternative way to build—utilizing proven, new materials that are more sustainable, affordable and easier to install.

RENCO’s patented building system, blocks, joists, decking and adhesives have been evaluated in ANSI certified laboratories for structural performance, physical characteristics and fire resistance. After thorough evaluation, IAPMO approved RENCO’s Evaluation Criteria and issued its Evaluation Report to permit the use of the RENCO building system under the International Building Code, including High Velocity Hurricane Zones.

RENCO’s building system is currently approved for structures up to five stories; expanded approvals for taller structures are pending. RENCO is currently completing seismic testing for earthquake zones and is fully confident that it will obtain approval to build in all seismic design categories.