A Sneak Peek at DC’s BIG Maze

by Lark Turner

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The National Building Museum’s latest drive to get visitors in the door may end up trapping them, too. A labyrinth-inspired maze designed to let explorers get lost will debut in the museum’s Great Hall on July 4.

UrbanTurf got a sneak peek at the BIG Maze’s construction this week. Building began in earnest on June 16 and will continue right up until its opening, said Cathy Frankel, the museum’s head of exhibitions.

The 60-by-60 foot structure designed by the Bjarke Ingels Group (hence the maze’s BIG name) is clad in an exposed, untreated maple-faced plywood. The material is intended to look unfinished and play off the color of the museum’s interior. Other options were considered, including mirrors, PVC pipe and a stark, glossy white, but all were dismissed due to financial constraints and a lack of time. The Great Hall, which is the size of a football field, is an in-demand location for events, and it’s only during late summer that part of the space can be taken up by an exhibition for any length of time.

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The maze’s walls are sloped and decrease in size from 18 feet at their highest exterior point to just three feet in the innermost space of the structure. The shape looks a bit like a square compressed by a ball, creating a “play on perspective,” said Brett Rodgers, the museum’s spokesman.

Because the walls in the middle are the smallest, Frankel said visitors will be able to see where they’ve come from — and where they still need to go — once they reach the midway point.

“We hope it’ll force people to look up and look at the building in ways they haven’t before,” she said. “It’ll be interesting to see if people can figure out by looking up where they are.”

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The temporary structure also plays on the museum’s mission, Frankel said.

“The concept of the maze is similar to the way that we operate here and how we’re trying to educate people,” she said. “We’re not just about form and the built environment. We’re about the process. We’re about peeling back the layers and revealing what’s there, and the way this is designed, the structure reveals itself more and more as you move toward the center.”

The exhibition will be open during regular museum hours until September 1, as well as during several special “late night” events on July 31 and August 7, 14, 21 and 28.

See other articles related to: building museum, bjarke ingels, big maze

This article originally published at http://dc.urbanturf.com/articles/blog/a_sneak_peek_at_the_building_museums_big_maze/8664

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