The architect who turns cards into houses

BALTIMORE -- When Bryan Berg was 8 years old, his grandfather showed him how to stack cards -- a lesson he might have learned a little too well.

"I never ever intended for this to become my livelihood in any means," said Berg.

He's been creating structures out cards professionally for more than 20 years. We found him at the Horseshoe Casino in Baltimore re-creating that city's famous buildings along with landmarks of Washington, D.C.

He holds Guinness World Records for the tallest card structure, almost 26 feet, and the biggest -- a casino he built in China took 44 days and 219,000 cards.

"There's like the people who think it's like the greatest most fantastic beautiful thing they've ever seen and then there's people who think that I'm wasting my time," said Berg. "I mean, I am a little crazy but who wouldn't be for doing this, right?"

There's no glue and no tape -- just an ingenious four-sided honeycomb structure that he developed himself and that becomes stronger as each new section is added.

So why did a guy with a Master's degree from Harvard decide to stack cards for a living?

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Bryan Berg surrounded by his creation of a Holiday Inn room made of hotel key cards
BRYAN BERG

"I'm trained as an architect but this actually pays better," said Berg.

Sponsors like Disney World and big casinos pay him well to build his creations all over the world. And there's another big advantage over architecture.

"When my buildings fall down, I don't get sued," he said.

He says the fact that his art is temporary doesn't bother him. He loves to build a masterpiece and then watch it collapse -- like a house of cards.

  • Chip Reid

    Chip Reid is CBS News' national correspondent.