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Rendering of The BEACH at the National Building Museum. Courtesy of Snarkitecture.

Rendering of The BEACH at the National Building Museum. Courtesy of Snarkitecture.

If you’re in the nation’s capital this summer, and it’s hot and steamy and nothing sounds better than a trip to the seashore, consider a visit to the National Building Museum instead. There, the Brooklyn-based collaborative Snarkitecture is creating The BEACH, an installation open between July 4 and Labor Day that epitomizes Snarkitecture’s philosophy of operating in “territories between art and architecture” and investigating “indefinable moments created by manipulating and reinterpreting existing materials, structures and programs to spectacular effect.”


The museum’s Great Hall has been transformed into this “beach,” complete with a pier, shoreline, and “ocean,” using silver scaffolding, gray wall board, white flooring, mesh, and nearly a million translucent plastic ball-pool balls. Monochromatic beach chairs and umbrellas will sprinkle the “shoreline,” and a mirrored wall at one end will create a seemingly endless reflected expanse. Visitors are welcome to “swim” in the ocean, or spend an afternoon at the “sea’s” edge reading a good book, play beach-related activities such as paddleball, grab a refreshing drink at the snack bar, or dangle their feet off the pier.

Chase W. Rynd, executive director of the National Building Museum, said in a release that The BEACH “turns our understanding of the natural environment on its head and offers us the opportunity to question our own expectations of the built environment and see where pushing the boundaries can take us.” In keeping with the museum’s mission to educate the public about the impact of the built environment, all the materials will be reused or recycled at the close of the project. It’s air-conditioned and close to the Metro. So dive right in.