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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Recognizing architects’ increased use of installations for experimentation and prototyping, the "Bigger than a Breadbox, Smaller than a Building" competition awards project proposals that use the medium for spatial exploration. This year’s selected winner is The Pulp Canopy by Katie Donahue and Mason Limke of MYKA, who explore architectural applications of cellulose fiber (paper pulp), considered the “most abundant raw material on the planet.” The architects collected discarded paper products, transformed them into pulp and reshaped the pliable mulch into modules of varying thinness, transparency, and texture. Originally conceptualized as The Pulp Wall, Donahue and Limke reimagined it as a canopy for the competition, which requires entrants to re-envision a previous installation in the context of the competition brief rather than produce an original proposal. The work of art will hang from the ceiling in the lobby of the Boston Society of Architects headquarters at 290 Congress Street. In the meantime, the honorable mention teams such as Beta-Field, Alibi Studio, Justin Diles, and Studio Modo, are also preparing their projects for exhibition in Bigger than a Breadbox, opening June 17. The exhibition as a whole examines the “appropriation” of installation in contemporary architectural practice as an investigative tool for experimenting with new materials and technologies. Space constraints are part of the challenge: the double-height lobby of the building allows for an installation covering 150 square feet of floor space and extending up to 8 feet high. A further stipulation is that the installation must actively engage building occupants and visitors to the gallery. Winning designs for "Bigger than a Breadbox, Smaller than a Building 2015" were selected by the following jury members:
- Benjamin Ball, Ball-Nogues Studio (Los Angeles, CA)
- Shauna Gilles-Smith, Ground (Boston, MA)
- Monica Ponce de Leon, MPdL Studio (Ann Arbor, MI; New York, NY; Boston, MA)
- Jenny Sabin, Jenny Sabin Studio (Philadelphia, PA)
- J. Frano Violich, Kennedy Violich Architecture, Ltd. (Boston, MA)