Posts tagged with "National Building Museum":

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Architecture critics Inga Saffron and Robert Campbell receive the 2018 Vincent Scully Prize

Inga Saffron of the Philadelphia Inquirer and Robert Campbell of the Boston Globe are the recipients of the 2018 Vincent Scully Prize. Awarded annually by the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., the prize honors design professionals who have shown excellence in practice, scholarship, or criticism in the field. This year’s winners—both Pulitzer Prize–winning journalists—are admired for their commitment to providing insightful critiques of the built environment. The Vincent Scully Prize was established in 1999 and first awarded to Yale University professor Vincent Scully, who died last December. Past recipients include Jane Jacobs, His Royal Highness Prince Charles, the Prince of Wales, the late Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown, Paul Goldberger, Robert A.M. Stern, and more. Landscape architect Laurie Olin was given last year’s prize. The National Building Museum will hold a public award ceremony for Campbell and Saffron on Monday, October 29 with a conversation moderated by The Chicago Tribune’s Blair Kamin.
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Snarkitecture brings their indoor beach back to D.C., along with a few new surprises

The beach balls are back, and they’ve been joined by Kith sneakers, Dig, Playhouse, and Light Cavern. They’re all part of Fun House, the new Summer Block Party exhibit that opened July 4 at the National Building Museum in Washington, D. C., and runs through Labor Day.

The show is a retrospective of the work of Snarkitecture, a 10-year-old design collaborative known for its playful approach to art and architecture. The opening marks a return engagement for the firm, which also created the museum’s popular 2015 summer exhibit, The Beach, which featured nearly one million translucent beach balls.

The exhibit’s centerpiece is a freestanding white house that has been constructed in the museum’s Great Hall. It serves as a framework for a series of environments and objects that Snarkitecture has created over the years, including settings for the Storefront for Art and Architecture in New York, Design Miami in Florida, and the Exhibit Columbus design biennial in Columbus, Indiana.

In the back is a kidney-shaped swimming pool filled with the same plastic balls that Snarkitecture used for its Beach exhibit.

Founded in 2008, the New York-based collaborative is headed by Alex Mustonen, Daniel Arsham, and Benjamin Porto. The Fun House exhibit was curated by Maria Cristina Didero, who also wrote the foreword to the 2018 Phaidon monograph, Snarkitecture.

According to Mustonen, this is the first comprehensive museum exhibit for Snarkitecture, and it brings together many of the environments and objects its partners have created over the past decade. Separately, the different rooms and spaces are playfully engaging environments for children and adults. Together, they tell a story about the partners’ idiosyncratic approach to interpreting the built environment.

Mustonen said he didn’t think of the exhibit so much as a 'greatest hits' collection but as an opportunity to show how the designers think about the world. He said the group has completed dozens of installations in separate locations, and this is the first time they have been put together to create one immersive experience.

“One of the priorities of Snarkitecture is to make architecture perform in unexpected ways,” Mustonen said. “We are excited that everyone is going to be able to tour the Fun House and explore the wide array of Snarkitecture projects.”

A house was created to provide the framework for many of the installations because of the symbolic value and iconography of the house in the field of architecture, explained Didero, the curator.

“A house is the first thing most children learn to draw spontaneously, adding a triangle to a rectangular shape,” Didero said. For Fun House, the designers reimagined the conventional structure as a way of conveying Snarkitecture’s “unconventional theoretical journey” during its first ten years, she said.

Many of the objects and spaces are rendered in white as a way to encourage viewers to focus on the objects themselves, the designers said.

“A lot of our work is about reduction,” explained Arsham. “By removing color, you can concentrate on the form.”

Besides the pool filled with plastic balls, the exhibit includes environments such as Dig, from a 2011 Storefront for Art and Architecture installation about excavation, and Drift, from Design Miami in 2012.

There’s a ceiling-level display of Jordan One sneakers that recalls the stores Snarkitecture created for Kith, a bubble bath from Design Miami, Light Cavern, commissioned by COS for Salone del Mobile in Milan, and Playhouse, a kid-friendly structure from Exhibit Columbus.

“Everything you’ll see has an element of surprise, something that makes you see…in a whole new way,” observed Chase Rynd, the museum’s executive director. “Nothing is as it seems.”

Snarkitecture takes its name from the Lewis Carroll poem The Hunting of the Snark, which Mustonen says describes an “impossible voyage of an improbable crew to find an inconceivable creature.”

This is the fifth year for the museum’s Summer Block Party, which has featured the work of the Bjarke Ingels Group (The BIG Maze, 2014), James Corner Field Operations, (ICEBERGS, 2016), and Studio Gang (Hive, 2017.)

Mustonen said his firm hopes to take on more permanent projects, perhaps in the realm of residential design. According to representative Ali Moran, it has been commissioned to design a club in Bangkok that is scheduled to open this fall.

Housed inside the Montgomery Meigs-designed former-U. S. Pension Bureau headquarters at 401 F Street N. W., the museum has organized a series of summer programs and events in conjunction with Fun House, starting with a dance program called Daybreaker on July 6.

As part of the lineup, Mustonen will talk about Snarkitecture and Fun House during a Spotlight on Design program on July 19 from 7 to 8:30 p.m.

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Snarkitecture makes a Fun-House mini-retrospective for the National Building Museum’s Summer block Party

For its 2018 Summer Block Party exhibition, the National Building Museum reenlisted Snarkitecture to create Fun House. The New York-based architecture firm also designed the museum’s 2015 Summer Block Party; BEACH, which covered the 10,000-square-foot Great Hall in white plastic balls, and proved to be one of the most popular Summer Block Party exhibitions ever. This year, Snarkitecture worked with curator Maria Cristina Didero to take a different approach with Fun House, a full-size house with over 50 objects and installations that reference some of the firm’s previous work. Eleven different rooms, a front yard, and a backyard invite visitors to explore and play.  “We wanted to make the objects and environments in the show as accessible and interactive as possible, while also respecting the nature of some of the pieces as fragile design objects and ensuring the safety of visitors,” said Alex Mustonen of Snarkitecture. “In the end we've aimed to create a balance between moments that are playful and interactive with ones that are reflective and visually engaging.” In the front yard, people will find soft, oversize upholstered letters derived from A Memorial Bowling—a sculptural artwork completed in 2012 for Miami’s Orange Bowl Stadium—while a pool filled with white balls— “a domestic version of BEACH” explained Mustonen—occupies the backyard. Inside, functional items and accessories such as Broken Mirror and Pillow as well as limited edition pieces like Break and commissioned works like Beach Chair, provide moments of delight and discovery. “We wanted people to experience the projects in the same direct and tactile way that they would have with the original [versions],” Mustonen said. “With that as a starting point, we worked with Maria Cristina to develop the concept of the house as a framework that would organize the display objects and installations within an environment that would feel both familiar and unknown as visitors explore and discover the different rooms. Maria Cristina's proposal to reframe much of our work within an emotional context was something new for us, but also an idea that resonated with the way that we approach creating unexpected and memorable experiences.” “Fun House represents a unique opportunity for us to bring together a number of different Snarkitecture-designed interiors, installations, and objects into a single, immersive experience,” said Mustonen in a press release. “Our practice aims to create moments that make architecture accessible and engaging to a wide, diverse audience. With that in mind, we are excited to invite all visitors to the National Building Museum to an exhibition and installation that we hope is both unexpected and memorable.” Fun House opens at the National Building Museum on July 4 and will run through September 3, though Mustonen hints that it may travel to other locations in the future.
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Eviction is the subject of the National Building Museum’s immersive spring show

Inspired by Matthew Desmond’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City, the National Building Museum (NBM) in Washington, D.C. will be hosting Evicted, an immersive exhibition meant to expose visitors to the causes and fallout of eviction. From April 14 through May 19, 2019, guests can see original photography, audio interviews, and new data from Desmond’s Eviction Lab for free. The act of eviction can be a destabilizing force on families, as the evicted are thrust into uncertainty over their housing situation and marked with a blemish on their records that landlords can use to turning them down on rental applications. According to the NBM, “More than 11 million Americans are extremely low-income renters,” and 75 percent of qualified renters don’t receive federal aid. “Until recently, we simply didn’t know how immense this problem was, or how serious the consequences,” said Desmond in a statement. “Eviction does not simply drop poor families into a dark valley, a trying yet relatively brief detour on life’s journey. It fundamentally redirects their way, casting them onto a different, and much more difficult, path. Eviction is a cause, not just a condition, of poverty.” Evicted will convey this hardship through photographs of the eviction process, interviews with those affected, and infographics specifically commissioned for the show. The Eviction Lab’s repository of national eviction information will be packaged for visitors in an easily digestible manner, as the sheer facts and figures involved are typically overwhelming. Far from simply presenting the problem of eviction in a void, Evicted will highlight affordable housing projects and how local and state governments–as well as nonprofits–are tackling the issue. Ultimately, the museum wants to empower patrons to leave with ideas on how to help those on the precipice in their own neighborhoods and lift up those who have already felt the sting of eviction. “Homes form the building blocks of community life,” said executive director of the National Building Museum, Chase Rynd, in a statement. “We have to reveal what happens when this stability is threatened, as eviction looms—as well as ways to help stem this crisis.”
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Snarkitecture will build full-sized “Fun House” in the National Building Museum for 2018 summer season

The National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. has announced that the New York-based Snarkitecture will be designing the 2018 Summer Block Party exhibition for the museum’s Great Hall. Fun House will put a full-sized, freestanding house on display for visitors to explore, with the intent of explaining how Snarkitecture understands and reinterprets the built environment. Snarkitecture is no stranger to the National Building Museum, having lit Instagram ablaze with their 2015 Summer Block Party installation The BEACH. After filling 10,000 square feet of the museum’s Great Hall with enough translucent white balls to swim through, the studio will be taking a different tack this summer. The museum's four-story hall and its massive Corinthian columns will instead play host to Snarkitecture’s first full museum exhibition, with each room of Fun House containing environments and objects from the firm’s ten-year history. The house will also feature several new concepts developed exclusively for the museum, and a front and backyard with recognizable “outdoor activities” for guests to enjoy. “Making architecture and design approachable and fun is at the heart of the success of our summer series,” said Chase Rynd, executive director of the National Building Museum, in a statement. “Snarkitecture really understands our mission of inspiring curiosity about the world we design and build, and we’re excited to be working with them for the second time. We know our visitors will be thrilled to immerse themselves in Snarkitecture’s world yet again.” The program is only in its fifth year, but Fun House follows a series of ambitious Summer Block Party exhibitions, such as Hive by Studio Gang, ICEBERGS by James Corner Field Operations, and the BIG Maze by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG). Fun House will be open from July 4 through September 3, 2018. AN will update this post when more details of the installation become available.
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Secret cities of the Manhattan Project to go on view at the Building Museum

In the midst of World War II, three new cities sprung up across the United States, built from scratch by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Between 1942 and 1945, Oak Ridge, Tennessee; Los Alamos, New Mexico; and Hanford, Washington would become home to more than 125,000 people, but, officially, none of these places even existed. In fact, everything that happened inside the three "secret cities" was strictly confidential—even their locations, which were completely off the map. Now, some 75 years later, the National Building Museum is digging through the archives to present a declassified picture of the three cities at the core of the Manhattan Project, the research and development mission behind the first atomic bomb, with the exhibition "Secret Cities: The Architecture and Planning of the Manhattan Project," which opens from May 3. The show examines the exceptional design thinking required to build three clandestine cities at the height of the war, but these were not simple military encampments. Coinciding with the early moments of modernism, the hidden cities were a laboratory for the most cutting-edge explorations of town planning, engineering, and efficiency of mass and scale. To realize their vision, the Army Corps turned to architects like those at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, who provided the master plan for the community at Oak Ridge, which would grow to encompass 10 schools, a hospital, 17 restaurants, and 300 miles of road. To make it all possible, a team from SOM, led by led by John Ogden Merrill himself, set up shop in the town. The Tennessee office would grow to include some 300 architects, making it among the largest firms in the country at the time. Not only would the town prove a testing ground in which Bauhaus and other early modernist principles were utilized to create the type of planned suburb development that would dominate the following decades, it was also an opportunity for SOM's designers and engineers to experiment with new techniques and technologies, using prefab and modular construction methods combined with cemesto panels (names for their a mix of concrete and asbestos). At the time, the work was strictly confidential—not even the residents of the secret cities knew what they were working on. Only now, with the distance of time, is it possible to examine the legacy of these instant cities that sprung from the atomic race.
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The modular Open House lets you live in one home, forever

Today, almost a third of U.S. households are households of one, but the housing stock still reflects social values of the last century: Most homes are built for a married couple with children—the idealized nuclear family—yet these households now make up only 20 percent of families, down from 43 percent in 1950. While affluent singles may chose to live in a two- or three-bedroom house, lower-income individuals, or those who live in cities with white-hot housing markets, often have no choice but to co-house with others. An exhibition at Washington, D.C.'s National Building Museum responds to the changing American family and presents a compelling alternative: a home that can be rearranged for every stage of life. That model apartment, officially known as The Open House, is the centerpiece of Making Room: Housing for a Changing America. At slightly less than 1,000 square feet, it's less than 40 percent of the size of the average newly-built U.S. home, but the unit feels spacious nonetheless, thanks to movable walls, retractable furniture, and clever built-ins. Last week, crews changed the apartment over from its three-bedroom setup (single people living together as roommates) to a multigenerational house where a mother, her children, and an elderly relative in a semi-private room can all live under the same roof. "We wanted to promote a diverse set of housing options," explained Jessica Katz, the executive director of Citizens Housing Planning Council (CHPC), a New York–based nonprofit that studies housing issues and collaborated with the National Building Museum on the exhibition. The flexibility trickles down to the everyday, too. In the kitchen, the extended countertop can be lowered to table height with the push of a button, or lowered further for a wheelchair user to prep dinner. All the spaces are ADA-accessible, tricked out with Miele appliances and Ernest Rust cabinets that are opened with a soft touch. One wall over, the parent's bed, a Resource Furniture Tango Sofa system, pulls up into the wall Murphy bed–style, leaving a couch and living room setup for daytime relaxation. A bunk bed in the children's room, surrounded by built in cabinets for toy storage and a wall-mounted desk, does the same. Adjacent to the kitchen is the grandparent's bedroom, which functions as a small studio that can be closed off from the rest of the house for a more private retreat. Space-saving furnishings abound: A Giro Console Table folds out from the entertainment wall to become a narrow counter, and unfurls again to become a kitchen. A second bathroom, accessed from the studio and the kitchen, is wheelchair accessible. The dividers between all of the flexible spaces are the same moveable acoustic panels that segment conference rooms in convention centers, so the parent, for example, could host a sit-down dinner in her kitchen while the grandparent and the child in the household are asleep. The Open House was designed by Italian architect Pierluigi Colombo and kitted out with donations from Resource Furniture, AJ Madison, Ceramics of Italy, Duravit, Ernest Rust, Hansgrohe, AXOR, and others (a full resource list can be found here). Colombo also designed the original Open House, which debuted in New York in 2013. In many cities, building codes have a long way to go to catch up to the future of housing, however. The Open House was built up to NYC building code for "six different projects," Katz said, so the team could re-arrange the rooms without incurring code violations if the house were built outside of museum walls. Instead of the costly, weeks-long renovation that usually accompanies a major interior renovation, it only takes museum workers around 22 hours to change the house over for each phase of the exhibition. If the idea of a modular forever home seems far-fetched, Making Room's final gallery includes examples of non-traditional housing across the United States that bridge the divide between concept and practice while honoring local zoning codes. There's high-end ones like the Choy House, O’Neill Rose Architects' private home for three generations in a part of Flushing, Queens that's zoned for single-family houses, as well as more accessible options like Las Abuelitas Kinship Housing—a Poster Frost Mirto–designed community for grandparents and the children under their care in Tuscon, Arizona, pictured below. The hope, explained National Building Museum Curator Chrysanthe Broikos, is that these projects meet the needs of non-traditional families while demonstrating the need for residential zoning reform through quality design. For those planning a visit, the Open House is on view through September 18. It has one more iteration to go through, though: In late May, the house will enter its sunset years, transforming from a multigen space into one for an older couple, with a studio apartment to rent out to a tenant or live-in caretaker. Right now, visitors can take a virtual walkthrough of the apartment's current configuration, and more information on the exhibition can be found here.

Architecture & Design Film Festival: D.C. 2018

The Architecture & Design Film Festival (ADFF) is the nation’s largest film festival devoted to the creative spirit that drives architecture in design. Join us for the inaugural festival in D.C. Over the course of three days, the festival screens films that explore the life and work of architects such as Rem Koolhaas and Bjarke Ingels, and journalist, author, and activist Jane Jacobs, fashion designer Dries Van Noten, and timely topics such as design for positive social change and generative healthcare design. ADFF: D.C. presented by the Revada Foundation. The Museum will be the venue for all films, featuring three separate theaters, two of which will be specially outfitted for the festival, including the Museum’s iconic Great Hall. Films include: BIG TIME Building Hope: The Maggie’s Centres  Community by Design: Skid Row Housing Trust  Citizen Jane  Columbus  Dries Eames: The Architect and the Painter  The Experimental City  Face of a Nation: What Happened to the World's Fair?  The Gamble House  Getting Frank Gehry  Glenn Murcutt: Spirit of Place  If You Build It  Integral Man  Kevin Roche: The Quiet Architect  Made in Ilima  The Oyler House: Richard Neutra's Desert Retreat  REM  Windshield: A Vanished Vision  Workplace
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Studio Gang’s “Hive” was inspired partly by the Washington, D. C. Women’s March

What color is your hive? For the new Hive exhibit at the National Building Museum, architect Jeanne Gang and her firm, Studio Gang, chose two colors, a silver shade for the outer surface and magenta for the underside and the floor. The team selected silver, Gang said, because it was a good complement to the marble columns and walls of the former Pension Building, now home of the museum, which provides the backdrop for the installation that opens July 6. And the magenta? “The magenta was inspired by the Women’s March” in Washington, D. C. last January, Gang said during a press preview this week. “It kind of connects back to that.” The color choice was an aesthetic decision, Gang explained. Besides playing off the marble in the museum, she said, “magenta was so present at the Women’s March, when you saw the hats,” Gang said. “You couldn’t help but be inspired by the color. We wanted to bring that out.” The Women’s March took place on January 21, one day after Donald Trump was inaugurated President of the United States, and drew hundreds of thousands of people to the National Mall. It was also around the time when Studio Gang was starting to plan its Washington exhibit, which became the Hive. The pink hats worn at the Women’s March were conceived as part of an initiative called the Pussyhat Project. It was started by West Coast residents Krista Suh, Jayna Zweiman, and Kat Coyle, who envisioned marchers wearing knitted hats that would make a visual statement about the event while also keeping themselves warm. “If everyone at the march wears a pink hat, the crowd will be a sea of pink, showing that we stand together, united,” they said on their website. Pink is an appropriate color for the hats because it’s associated with femininity and womanhood, the organizers wrote. “Pink is considered a very female color representing caring, compassion, and love—all qualities that have been derided as weak but are actually STRONG. Wearing pink together is a powerful statement that we are unapologetically feminine and we unapologetically stand for women’s rights.” On Monday, Gang led a tour of the Hive, demonstrating some of its acoustic components, including tubulums and wind chimes. Hive is a series of chambers made of 2,578 wound paper tubes, and the tubes have nine different diameters. Visitors can enter the chambers or walk around them to see how they were put together. One chamber, 58 feet high, is the tallest structure ever built inside the museum. Gang said the installation, like much of Studio Gang’s work, represents an effort to create spaces that encourage people to “gather and interact.” She described how the museum has planned a series of programs and activities that make use of the hive, including yoga circles and drum circles. “We’re really hoping to create a community, even if only a temporary community of people who come into the museum,” she said. Hive is the fourth “summer block party” exhibit at the National Building Museum and the first designed by a woman-led team. Other summer exhibits were designed by Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG); Daniel Arsham and Alex Mustonen of Snarkitecture, and James Corner Field Operations. Hive opens July 6 and runs through September 4. The museum is located at 401 F Street N. W. in Washington. Jeanne Gang will give a talk about her firm’s work on Thursday starting at 7 p.m. at the museum.
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Watch Studio Gang’s “Hive” installation rise at the National Building Museum

Hive, an exhibition by Studio Gang, will be this year's Summer Block Party installation at the National Building Museum. While it opens July 4, you can watch its progress from the comfort of home, courtesy a work zone cam on the Museum's website. Built entirely of more than 2,700 wound paper tubes, the installation features three interconnected, domed chambers that reach 60 feet in height and mimic insect hives. Its tallest dome features an oculus over ten feet in diameter; it will filter in light to create light and shadow patterns. The tubes, which are made out of sustainable material, have a reflective silver exterior and a magenta interior that contrasts sharply with the Museum’s historic 19th-century architecture and Corinthian columns. Hive's form is inspired by other iconic built structures, including Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch and Brunelleschi’s Dome at the Florence Cathedral in Italy, as well as natural forms like a spider web. The smaller chambers also feature tubular instruments ranging from simple drum-like tubes to chimes. The installation creates pockets of spaces within the vast Great Hall, allowing different programs to occur within each area. Its modification of sound, light, and scale aims to challenge the way humans interact with spaces and installation sculptures. Hive will go on display from July 4, 2017, to September 4, 2017. Visit nmb.org to find the web cam and for further information on special exhibitions and programs.
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Studio Gang will design enormous, acoustically-attuned domes for the National Building Museum

Studio Gang will install a human hive in the halls of the National Building Museum this summer. The Chicago- and New York–based studio will erect thousands of wound paper tubes to create three domed rooms, the tallest of which will stretch 60 feet into the air. The tubes, a sustainable building material, range in height from a few inches to ten feet. The installation, aptly named Hive, will anchor the D.C. museum's Summer Block Party, a series of temporary commissions inside its Great Hall. Previous participants include James Corner Field Operations (2016), Snarkitecture (2015), and BIG (2014). “When you enter the Great Hall you almost feel like you’re in an outside space because of the distance sound travels before it is reflected back and made audible,” said Studio Gang founding principal Jeanne Gang, in a prepared statement. “We’ve designed a series of chambers shaped by sound that are ideally suited for intimate conversations and gatherings as well as performances and acoustic experimentation. Using wound paper tubes, a common building material with unique sonic properties, and interlocking them to form a catenary dome, we create a hive for these activities, bringing people together to explore and engage the senses.” The firm's installation will compress the capacious Great Hall, with its imposing Corinthian columns, into intimate spaces for conversation, playing musical instruments, or cooperative building activities for children (and adults so inclined). The tubes also feature reflective silver exteriors and vivid magenta interiors, creating a spectacular visual contrast with the Museum’s historic nineteenth-century interior. Hive will be on view from July 4–September 4, 2017. Check nbm.org for more information about the exhibition and related programming.
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Not your grandfather’s two-by-fours: A new exhibition showcases modern wood construction

Here we are in the year 2016, getting ready to ride in robot cars and eat meat grown in labs, but a skyscraper built out of wood still seems outlandish. Why? Wood is one of the world’s sturdiest and most versatile building materials. It has a single raw ingredient that doesn’t require intensive energy to produce: trees. The Horyuji temple precinct in Japan has wood structures that have been standing since about 700 AD. The onion-domed wooden churches on Russia’s Kizhi Island date to the early 18th century.

Today we have an innate distrust of tall wood buildings, a sense that they’ll roar into flame at the first spark. This distrust is, in part, a legacy of terrible 19th-century conflagrations like the Chicago Fire of 1871 and the Boston Fire of 1872. Those disasters and others led to the adoption of fire codes that prohibited wood structures above a certain height, saving lives in the process.

But it’s the 21st century, and a new exhibition at the National Building Museum in Washington challenges us to let go of our fear and embrace the future. The structural wood products that have recently entered the market are not your grandfather’s two-by-fours. Engineered timber beams have been proven in tests to be just as fireproof as steel, and arguably more so, since their cores as less likely to melt in a fire. They are also surprisingly strong.

In 2009, a nine-story apartment block in London was completed with an all-wood structure—load-bearing walls, floor slabs, elevator cores. Building with modern timber calls for a front-loaded process, which begins with sustainable forest management and expert milling (in close collaboration with the architect), and ends with a relatively quick assembly of prefabricated components. In other words, it changes how materials are sourced and how buildings are built. An overused cliché seems warranted here: Mass timber (the catch-all term for a host of different products) could disrupt the design and construction industries.

On display through May 21, 2017, Timber City occupies a single long room and part of the adjacent hallway on the second floor of Washington’s cavernous National Building Museum. Happily, wood is both the message and the medium in the exhibition design, by Yugon Kim and Tomomi Itakura of the Boston-based firm IKD. Information is presented on tall wooden boards propped against the walls. Large wood lozenges, stacked like pennies, hold the models. It’s a tactile and even olfactory show: Visitors can run a hand down a curved glu-lam beam, count the layers in a sandwich of cross-laminated timber (CLT), and compare laminated veneer to laminated strand lumber. Groups of tree stumps at either end of the room let you sit down for a moment to sniff the air (with so much wood, the room smells great).

Among the projects featured is a carousel pavilion in Stamford, Connecticut, that is just shy of completion, and a charter school in New Haven that opened a few months ago, both by Gray Organschi Architecture. The model of the carousel pavilion shows the undulations of precisely milled CLT in a cupola with three skylights, supported by a glu-lam rim beam. The UMass Design Building by Leers Weinzapfel Associates, now under construction in Amherst, Massachusetts, also makes extensive use of timber, including in its zipper-trussed atrium.

Those structures don’t exactly pierce the sky (the Design Building is four stories). But Framework, a project by Lever Architecture, will rise to 12 stories after it breaks ground next year in Portland, which will make it the tallest timber structure in the United States so far. Framework and another wood tower design by SHoP Architects, 475 West 18th (planned for a site on the High Line), won a prize from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which is promoting tall timber—another sign this is not a passing fad.

For a small show, Timber City packs in a lot of information, and at times I wished it had more space to breathe. The Timber Over Time mural on one of the short walls is based on a clever conceit: It presents the history of wood construction through concentric tree rings. But as elsewhere, the text is small and dense. A board explaining the “forest-to-frame” life cycle is compelling—it really does seem to be a virtuous circle, with trees harvested at their carbon-storing peak, milled with little waste, and replaced by new growth—but I missed a more vivid sense of how trees become beams and boards. Too bad there wasn’t room to show footage from inside a factory or a time-lapse video of one of the buildings going up. (There is, however, a neat case of different wood byproducts that explains their uses.)

The exhibit is sponsored in part by the lumber industry, and it feels a bit like a sales pitch. But perhaps that’s necessary. The concrete and steel industries are huge; building codes are entrenched and slow to change (many of the early mass-timber buildings have gotten special code exemptions). Still an upstart, the timber camp may have to shout to make itself heard. Timber City proves that we all should be listening.

Timber City National Building Museum, Washington, D.C., through May 21, 2017