No BBQ-ing Allowed

Rockwell Group plants an indoor lawn in the National Building Museum

The entrance to the National Building Museum will be turned into a massive cloudscape. (Courtesy the National Building Museum and Rockwell Group)

The 2019 Summer Block Party installation at the National Building Museum has been revealed, and the LAB at Rockwell Group will install a faux indoor “lawn” in the great hall of the Washington, D.C., museum.

Lawn will run from July 4 through September 2, and visitors can expect to find a facsimile of a park within. Rockwell Group has attempted to recreate an all-American summer inside the museum via a series of high-tech interventions, and the installation of an elevated (artificial) lawn that gradually rises on scaffolding.

Rendering of people assembled on an indoor lawn, watching a projection

A view of the Lawn during a movie night (Courtesy the National Building Museum and Rockwell Group)

Visitors to Lawn can scale an inclined slope to the lawn, which will feature a number of communal areas and hammocks suspended from the 100-foot-tall ceiling. From that elevated vantage point, guests can gaze down at the pixelated sky pattern made of tile on the floor of the reception area below. At the very top of the lawn will be a scaffolding tower that will rise to the museum’s third floor and will offer views of the sculptural busts on the roof.

Every hammock will be embedded with hidden speakers and that will play summertime stories from “prominent American storytellers,” according to Rockwell Group.

Instead of catching real fireflies, LAB has designed an augmented reality experience where guests can chase and “catch” fireflies across the lawn using their phones.

Rendering of a lawn with a picnic blanket, hammock, and croquet mallets

Lawn will hold a number of summertime activities and communal lounging spaces. (Courtesy the National Building Museum and Rockwell Group)

Rockwell Group appears to have taken a cue from last year’s Fun House installation from Snarkitecture, as the entire experience seems eminently Instagrammable. Bold colors, a stark delineation of programming, and the commodification of a shared, common experience have been successfully deployed across a number of pop-up museums and experience spaces.

The titular lawn itself, while fake, was produced by SynLawn and will be totally recycled after the exhibition is taken down. The faux-grass is made from sugarcane, while the backing comes from soybeans. The scaffolding will be disassembled and used elsewhere as well.

Admission to Lawn is included in the price of a National Building Museum ticket, and the museum will be activating the space at night to host movie screenings, yoga, and meditation classes, among other events.

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