Posts tagged with "National Building Museum":

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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

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National Building Museum picks Studio Gang for 2017 summer installation

The National Building Museum has announced Studio Gang Architects as the designers of the 2017 Summer Block Party Installation. This year’s installation, ICEBERGS, was designed by James Corner Field Operations. Previous installations include BIG Maze by Bjarke Ingles Group and The BEACH by Snarkitecture. In 2003 Studio Gang designed another installation for the National Building Museum, a hanging translucent marble curtain that was part of  in the Masonry Variations exhibit. Firm founder Jeanne Gang has also served as an advisor for the National Building Museum’s Intelligent Cities project. “We are delighted to embark on a new collaboration with Studio Gang over the next year,” said Chase W. Rynd, executive director of the National Building Museum, in a press release. “With their creativity and impeccable design credentials, they are poised to reimagine the possibilities of this series.” Details will be announced in early 2017, with a public opening planned for July 4th through Labor Day 2017. “It’s great to return to the National Building Museum, where our Marble Curtain was such an important early project for Studio Gang, one that informed our thinking about material innovation and research,” remarked Jeanne Gang in a press release. “We are looking forward to building on the legacy and energy of the summer series, in the historic space of the Museum’s Great Hall.”
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James Corner Field Operations’ “ICEBERGS” exhibit opens at the National Building Museum

  A new installation at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. gives visitors an icy antidote to the city’s hot summer temperatures, which are expected to surge up to 100 degrees. Dubbed ICEBERGS, the exhibit lets visitors explore an underwater world of snow and ice. The exhibit, designed by the landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations, consists of “icebergs” made from reusable construction materials and a 50-foot “water line” topped by an airy outpost above. The total space of the exhibition is over 12,000 square feet. In addition to exploring icebergs and caves, guests can try a Japanese shaved ice snack called kakigori courtesy of Daikaya restaurant. Last summer the National Building Museum exhibited the Snarkitecture-designed THE BEACH, which featured a massive ball pit that encouraged visitors young and old to go play. THE BEACH also had a 50-foot “shoreline” with umbrellas and beach chairs, and a mirrored wall that made the sea of close to 1 million translucent plastic balls seem to go on forever. This glacial, underwater world contrasts with the hot, sticky Washington DC summer, but it’s also a reminder of climate change. “Such a world is both beautiful and ominous,” said James Corner Field Operations’ founder and director James Corner, “given our current epoch of climate change, ice-melt, and rising seas.” Learn more about the exhibit here.
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Re-Ball! winner Hou de Souse reuses 650,000 plastic balls for interactive installation in abandoned D.C. trolley station

It has been a little over two and a half weeks since the last submissions rolled in March 4 for Re-Ball!, an international competition hosted by Dupont Underground. Raise/Raze, the winning design by New York City-based architecture firm Hou de Sousa, emphasizes interactivity and social interaction, inviting users to make their own mark on the building (and destruction) process. Re-Ball! is an organization seeking to bring life to a defunct trolley station under Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C. The station opened in 1949 and was abandoned in 1962, when the city stopped its streetcar service. (Though in the 1960s parts were used as a fallout shelter and later a food court.) Dupont Underground signed a five-year lease with the city in 2014, and hopes to create a Low Line-like experience, yet with a more cultural bend, hosting art and design exhibitions, community and educational events. They also want to host pop up restaurants and retail, creative incubators, and more, both temporary and permanent. To start activating the Dupont space and get those creative juices flowing, the competition asked entrants to create a site-specific installation repurposing over 650,000 translucent white plastic balls used in a former National Building Museum installation last summer. They asked entrants to create a design to help fill the 14,000 square foot east platform, now mostly raw concrete and subway tile, beneath Dupont Circle. “The winning entry should be thoughtful, provocative, witty, safe, and executable on a limited budget, in a limited time frame, and within the confines of the site,” Dupont Underground wrote in their competition brief. “Raise/Raze is like sand in a massive sandbox; it allows its users to alter their surroundings with ease,” said the designers in a statement. To see the installation when it opens April 30, you’ll need to make a reservation. Advanced admission tickets are available via the Indiegogo campaign. The installation will run through June 1. Check out the finalists here and a gallery of all proposals over here.
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Stay Cool: ICEBERGS ahead at the National Building Museum

The National Building Museum, in Washington D.C., will open a radical new exhibition, ICEBERGS, on July 2 of this year. Designed by New York–based landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations, the exhibition will feature stunning underwater glacial ice fields that stretch across the Museum's Great Hall. The one-of-a-kind installation will focus on three recurring themes of construction, geometry, and landscape representation. Part of the museum's Summer Block Party series, Corner's ICEBERGS includes glacial-style landscaping throughout the Great Hall, all coming in a various sizes comprising reusable construction materials like scaffolding and polycarbonate paneling—often found in greenhouses. Hanging 20 feet from the ceiling, a "water line" divides the space which subsequently facilitates panoramic views from both the supposed ocean surface plane and down below by the icebergs. The "bergs" however, aren't exactly small. Designed to appear imposing and at times ominous, the tallest artificial iceberg area will rise to 56 feet, soaring above the waterline up to the third-story balcony. A viewing area has also been incorporated into the inside the largest iceberg, allowing visitors to step inside, walk along an undersea bridge, chill out in icy seabed grottos, choose from a selection of "shaved-ice snacks," and engage in educational programs on landscape architecture and the environment. Corner said in a press release,“ICEBERGS invokes the surreal underwater-world of glacial ice fields. Such a world is both beautiful and ominous given our current epoch of climate change, ice-melt, and rising seas. The installation creates an ambient field of texture, movement, and interaction, as in an unfolding landscape of multiples, distinct from a static, single object." All in all, ICEBERGS will take up 12,540 square feet within the museum. The exhibit runs through September 5, 2016.   “ICEBERGS symbolizes an extreme counterpoint to the sweltering heat of the Washington, D.C. summer,” said Chase W. Rynd, executive director of the National Building Museum. “We hope that James Corner Field Operations’ striking design will provoke both serious public conversation about the complex relationship between design and landscape, while also eliciting a sense of wonder and play among visitors of all ages.”
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James Corner Field Operations will design the National Building Museum’s summer 2016 installation

Following in the stead of Snarkitecture and Bjarke Ingels, New York's James Corner Field Operations will create the National Building Museum's summer 2016 installation. The landscape architecture firm is best known for its outdoor projects such as the High Line, Santa Monica’s Tongva Park and Ken Genser Square, Race Street Pier in Philadelphia, and Seattle’s Central Waterfront. Field Operations will likely bring a fresh perspective inside the building's four-story Grand Hall. The National Building Museum opened in 1985 in the Pension Bureau building, originally built in 1887 and designed by Montgomery C. Meigs, the U.S. Army quartermaster general during the Civil War. Notably, the Italian Renaissance–style building features 75-foot-tall Corinthian columns in the Grand Hall and a 28-panel frieze by American sculptor Caspar Buberl.   A design will be revealed in the spring and the exhibition will run in tandem with the museum's summer block party series. “We are very excited about this opportunity to once again transform the Great Hall for summer spectacle and pleasure,” said James Corner, founder of James Corner Field Operations, in a press release. “It will be a great challenge to surpass the genius of previous installations, but also an opportunity to explore something new and unexpected.” Snarkitecture opted for a giant, monochromatic ball pit (Click to see AN's report on this installation) in 2015 and the year before, Bjarke Ingels took advantage of the hall's height to craft a giant maze (Read more about the maze here). Stay tuned to learn what Field Operations creates for the space. To learn more about Field Operations and its projects, check out the Miami Underline and Great Falls State Park.
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Watch 24 Architecture and Design Teams Create “Canstructions” in Time Lapse

On Sunday, November 22, twenty four teams from architecture and design firms in Washington, D.C. built sculptures out of canned food inside the National Building Museum. The theme this year is transportation and sculptures included the Scooby Doo Mystery Machine, a full-size smart car, a Mayflower bean soup ship, CAN-nook Chopper to the Rescue, a Lunar module, and more. Canstruction is a national food drive for the Capital Area Food Bank. Last year, Canstruction teams donated 56,000 pounds of food and $18,000—the equivalent of 42,000 meals. More than 275 tons of food has been donated through CanstructionDC since the event began in 1998. The sculptures will be on display until Monday, November 30, and visitors can vote for their favorite to win the “People’s Choice Award” by donating a can of food in the “ballot box” next to each sculpture. For those who can’t make it to D.C. (or who want to see more) Work Zone Cam created a time-lapse video for the event. To get completely up to speed on National Building events, check out The Beach by Snarkitecture from this past summer and The Maze by BIG, both in the National Building’s great hall. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JrixcmmsP3s To learn about Canstruction in your area, check out this website.
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This giant ball pit in New York City is all about “the transformative power of play”

By now you’ve surely seen a friend or relative’s selfie from the massive ball pit at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. The installation, dubbed The BEACH, was designed by Snarkitecture and includes nearly one-million all-white, translucent, recyclable plastic balls. It's like a McDonald's ball pit, but artsier and probably a little bit cleaner. As AN reported earlier this summer, “A mirrored wall at one end creates the illusion of an unending abyss of translucent orbs. Bordering the enclosure is a 50-foot ‘shoreline,’ filled with umbrellas and monochromatic beach chairs for lounging in the sunshine that filters through the window-laden ceiling four stories above.” If you’re not able to hit The BEACH before it closes on Labor Day, you now have another chance to swim through a sea of plastic and strangers. AMNY reported that New Yorkers are getting their very own ball pit from August 21st to September 21st. The installation, called JumpIn!, comes from the London- and New York–based creative agency Pearlfisher. According to the company, the installation is all about “promoting the transformative power of play.” While the ball pit will likely be quite popular, and a lot of fun, let’s not kid ourselves here: with a grand total of (only) 81,000 white plastic balls, JumpIn is a fraction of The Beach. (You win this round, Washington!) https://instagram.com/p/x16nbCpN3D/ JumpIn! will be at Pearlfisher's Soho offices, which are on the 5th floor of 455 Broadway. It's free to enjoy, but reservations must be made in advance. You can do that here. https://instagram.com/p/x6sSRKJN4y/ [h/t Curbed]
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Last year a labyrinth, now a giant ball pit: National Building Museum hosts indoor beach in its Great Hall

The magnificent, four-story Great Hall of the National Building Museum is now a site for executing cannonballs, rolling on the floor laughing, and other acts of gleeful revelry. A giant ball pit filled with recyclable translucent plastic orbs cuts between the colossal Corinthian columns, bounded by an enclosure made from scaffolding, wooden panels, and perforated mesh all painted stark white. A mirrored wall at one end creates the illusion of an unending abyss of translucent orbs. Bordering the enclosure is a 50-foot “shoreline,” filled with umbrellas and monochromatic beach chairs for lounging in the sunshine that filters through the window-laden ceiling four stories above. Adults can recline on “dry” land with a book, play paddleball, or have a drink at the snack bar. The installation, titled The BEACH was dreamed up by Brooklyn-based design firm Snarkitecture, which bills it as “an exciting opportunity to create an architectural installation that reimagines the qualities and possibilities of material, encourages exploration and interaction with one’s surroundings, and offers an unexpected and memorable landscape for visitors to relax and socialize within.” The fun-fest is part of the National Building Museum’s ‘Summer Block Party’ series, which last year hosted Big Maze by the Bjarke Ingels Group. Visitors wandered through an 18 foot-high maple plywood structure inspired by ancient labyrinths, garden and hedge mazes of 17th and 18th-century Europe and modern American corn mazes.
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Night at the Museum II: Bjarke Ingels to re-imagine National Building Museum for new exhibition

The Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is returning to the National Building Museum shortly after its hugely-popular, and highly-traversed maze installation in the building's Grand Hall. This January, the museum will present what is essentially a retrospective on BIG's work called HOT TO COLD: an odyssey of architectural adaptation. According to the National Building Museum, the exhibition “takes visitors from the hottest to the coldest parts of our planet and explores how BIG´s design solutions are shaped by their cultural and climatic contexts." For the exhibition, the museum will suspend 60 three-dimensional models of BIG's work and premier Iwan Baan photographs of some of BIG’s latest projects. “What's so special about HOT TO COLD is that BIG has perceived the National Building Museum more as a site for a project, rather than as a venue for an exhibition,” curator Susan Piedmont-Palladino said in a statement.
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On View> Designing for Disaster at the National Building Museum

Designing for Disaster National Building Museum 401 F Street NW, Washington, D.C. Through August 2, 2015 The National Building Museum’s newest exhibition, Designing for Disaster, will explore how communities assess risks from natural hazards and how we can create policies, plans, and designs that create safer, more disaster-resilient communities. The two central questions that the exhibit addresses are where and how we should build. Through the use of unique objects, captivating graphics, video testimonials, and more, the exhibition explores new solutions for, and historical responses to a range of natural hazards, including earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, storm surges, floods, sea level rise, tsunamis, and wildfires. A special focus of the show is disaster-resistant residential designs, which highlight the importance of resilient housing for a future that may involve a greater number of natural disasters. Other typologies are also explored, including hospitals, schools, airports, public arenas, stadiums, fire and police stations, public transportation networks, commercial buildings, and retail outlets. The selected buildings are geographically dispersed throughout the United States and have each been designed to address at least one sort of natural disaster in an exemplary way.      
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Little BIG Maze: Bjarke Ingels Group Designs Labyrinth for National Building Museum

The National Building Museum was smart to wait till April 2nd to announce their latest project, lest anyone think it was a cleverly crafted April Fool's prank. The Washington, D.C.–based institution said today over Twitter ("A-MAZE-ING NEWS") that Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) will design an unconventional maze to be temporarily housed in its grand atrium. Perhaps inspired by the summer tradition of the corn maze, the BIG installation will debut in the West Court of the building's cavernous Great Hall on July 4th, bringing new meaning to Independence Day to those wandering within its walls. In a material sense the Danish firm has opted to go against the grain, constructing their project out of Baltic birch plywood. Convention is also bucked in the experience of the maze itself. Traditionally a labyrinth grows more confounding as one descends deeper into its clutches. In the case of BIG's maze, penetration fosters clarity. The 18-foot-tall walls that establish the square perimeter of the structure slope towards its center, meaning that upon reaching the heart of the design, visitors are offered a 360 degree view of the entire layout of the labyrinth that, presumably, ensures a relatively painless escape. The maze will be installed through September 1st as part of the museum's Summer Block Party slate of programming. BIG is not the first firm in recent months to try their hand at such work within a museum context. The Royal Academy of Arts in London recruited seven international architects, including Diébédo Francis Kéré and Kengo Kuma to design labyrinthine installations for an exhibit entitled Sensing Spaces. The show opened in late January and runs through April 6th.