When I was a kid, one of the highlights of every McDonald’s trip was the ball pit. Feeling nothing but anticipation, my parents or grandparents or whomever would watch in awe as I inhaled Chicken McNuggets, french fries, and orange Hi-C, my eyes never leaving the black netting that encapsulated what I considered to be the world’s greatest recreational activity. The ball pit was complete anarchy and I was in love with it. So, needless to say when I found out about a 10,000 square foot ball pit that was erected by an architectural engineer firm in Washington, D.C., seven-year-old me literally wept.
From July 4 to Sep. 7, 2015, the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C. housed an interactive architectural installation called The Beach. It was glorious. Snarkitecture, the architectural engineer firm who designed and implemented the installation, took cues from what it considered a typical day at the beach, then morphed the natural and cultural elements into an abstract representation of the environment inside the National Building Museum’s Great Hall. From Smithsonian Magazine:
“Alex Mustonen, a co-founder at the firm, explains in a statement: ‘We see the commission 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.'”
Utilizing scaffolding, drywall, and mirrors, Snarkitecture was created an enclosure that led to a king’s ransom of white, recyclable plastic balls. About 750,000, actually. The architectural engineer firm welcomed visitors explore the installation, relax in beach chairs, sip drinks at a snack bar, and even play in the bleached “ocean.”
The Beach isn’t the only thing Snarkitecture is known for. The architectural engineer firm also created a marble run installation in the lobby of the Delano hotel in Miami Beach, collaborated with Daniel Arsham for an exhibition and performance art piece called Dig, which explored architectural elements of excavation, and even collaborated with Canadian electro-funk duo Chromeo on a Milk Gallery installation, The White Room.
Ted Mosby’s GNB building has nothing on The Beach.
All images used in this article were taken by Noah Kalina.