The BEACH, a summer installation of 650,000 translucent plastic balls at the National Building Museum in the District was moved to Dupont Underground for a second installation and art competition Sept. 7.
Designed by architecture collective Snarkitecture, the BEACH was open at the NBM July 4 to Sept. 7. The interactive collection was modeled to resemble a beach, with beach chairs lining the “shore” and mirrored walls creating a seemingly infinite mirage.
The NBM’s Vice President for Marketing and Communications Brett Rodgers said the installation was a massive success this summer.
While the previous summer’s exhibition, an 18-foot maze, drew 50,000 visitors between July and September, The BEACH attracted 180,000 beachgoers within the same timeframe.
“It exceeded our expectations by a lot,” Rodgers said. “People enjoyed it a lot of different ways for a long amount of time and seemed to really appreciate that. Not to mention that it’s completely unique, there’s just literally nowhere else you can have this experience.”
After the installation closed in September, 100 volunteers moved the installation to Dupont Underground, an art collective that is transforming an abandoned trolley station under Dupont Circle into a retail, exhibit and performance space. The move required 25 hours of work, aided by four donated trucks from Bookstore Movers.
Dupont Underground Managing Director Braulio Agnese said The BEACH reinstallation was a chance opportunity, after meeting with representatives from the NBM and spontaneously offering to craft the plastic balls a new home.
“It’s something of a rarity, I think, for something like this to be repurposed,” Agnese said. “We are trying to open a 14,000 square foot space. … Here’s a chance to fill it with something unique and different, a chance to showcase our mission, what we’re trying to bring to the city. … It’s ambitious but I think it has amazing potential.”
To repurpose The BEACH’s balls, Dupont Underground plans to host a design contest for the unveiling of the space that makes use of the balls in an innovative way that differs from the NBM’s original setup.
The collective aims to closely tie the competition to the opening of the new exhibit, which will take place late October or early November.
Representatives from the NBM, Dupont Underground and the D.C. art community will judge the contest.
Agnese emphasized the versatile nature of the reinstallation contest and the Dupont Underground project.
“We always hope to have something that will interest different types of people who like different types of cultural activity, whether it’s a public event — we’re developing a relationship with D.C. Public Library — or it’s a pop-up, drink thing, retail experience or experimental theatre,” Agnese said. “We think there’ll be something to attract a lot of different types of crowds. We have ideas, and we know what the solutions are.”
Sabrina Landegger (COL ’19) visited The BEACH installation over the summer and said she enjoyed the interactive nature of the art piece.
“It’s a really fun way to bond with friends, if you’re looking for something outside of the Georgetown bubble to do,” Landegger said. “People were really happy. … It’s just really enjoyable, super random. You’re not going to find [it] anywhere again.”
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