National Building Museum Redefines “Green” Architecture

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Wednesday, August 1, 2012
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Confluence (Courtesy National Building Museum/Alison Dunn Photography)

Confluence (Courtesy National Building Museum/Alison Dunn Photography)

The National Building Museum‘s latest exhibit presents a new way to beat the summer heat—12 holes of mini-golf designed by prominent local architects, landscape architects, and developers. But if it’s windmills and castles you’re after, tee off elsewhere.  While the course is a challenge, it offers an intriguing (and very engaging) look at Washington’s architectural history and future.

Take Back the Streets! (Courtesy National Building Museum/Alison Dunn Photography)

Take Back the Streets! (Courtesy National Building Museum/Alison Dunn Photography)

The first hole, Take Back the Streets!, is presented by the American Society of Landscape Architects and was designed by students of the Virginia Tech Washington-Alexandria Architecture Center. The team built a segment of streetscape with dedicated transit and bike lanes, and players must aim through pedestrians and stormwater management swales that function as traps.

Canal Park (Courtesy National Building Museum/Alison Dunn Photography)

Canal Park (Courtesy National Building Museum/Alison Dunn Photography)

OLIN and STUDIOS Architecture created a hole based on their Canal Park project, set to open this fall near the Washington Navy Yard. Putters can aim up a ramp and through suspended cubes that mimic the development’s pavilions, and if that proves too difficult, around PVC pipes representing trees to a separate hole.

Ball on the Mall (Courtesy National Building Museum/Alison Dunn Photography)

Ball on the Mall (Courtesy National Building Museum/Alison Dunn Photography)

Ball on the Mall by E/L Studio forces players to navigate the iconic cartography of the National Mall. The design team used a CNC mill to map streets and cut grooves through which the golf ball travels. (You can blame l’Enfant for not making par on this one.)

Holes in 1s and 0s (Courtesy National Building Museum/Alison Dunn Photography)

Hole in 1s and 0s (Courtesy National Building Museum/Alison Dunn Photography)

Slightly more abstract is Grizform Design‘s Hole in 1s and 0s, a representation of a smart phone’s inner workings. Walls of the very three-dimensional hole are covered with lights and wires and ramps running down either side. Each forking ramp is made up of laminated laser-cut wood. Choose the right ramp and it’s an easy hole-in-one, choose the other and you may spend some time chasing after your ball. (Or take a mulligan; we won’t tell!)

Confluence (Courtesy National Building Museum/Alison Dunn Photography)

Confluence (Courtesy National Building Museum/Alison Dunn Photography)

Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, biggest name of the lot, presents a pixelated topography of the Potomac and Anacostia basins titled Confluence. The team overlayed an image of Pierre l’Enfant’s masterplan for Washington with a recent satellite image, extruding the pixels according to the density of development.

(Courtesy National Building Museum/Alison Dunn Photography)

(Courtesy National Building Museum/Alison Dunn Photography)

Feel up to the challenge of navigating Washington with a golf club? Visit the National Building Museum anytime from now through September 3. A round of mini-golf is $5 per person, $3 with Museum ticket or membership. And don’t forget to vote for your favorite design!

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