Photographer: Timothy Schenck

Hive - National Building Museum by Studio Gang | Installations ×

Photographer: Timothy Schenck

Hive - National Building Museum by Studio Gang | Installations ×

Photographer: Timothy Schenck

Hive - National Building Museum by Studio Gang | Installations ×

This summer, the National Building Museum will present a new, interactive installation designed by Studio Gang, an architecture and urban design practice based in Chicago and New York. Titled “Hive,” it will be the latest in the Museum’s imaginative Summer Block Party series of temporary structures inside its historic Great Hall. Complemented by a full schedule of concerts, tours, talks, and programs, Hive will be open to the public July 4–September 4, 2017. Soaring to the uppermost reaches of the Museum, Hive will be built entirely of more than 2,700 wound paper tubes, a construction material that is recyclable, lightweight, and renewable.

The tubes vary in size from several inches to 10 feet high and will be interlocked to create three dynamic interconnected, domed chambers. Reaching 60 feet tall, the installation’s tallest dome will feature an oculus over 10 feet in diameter. The tubes feature a reflective silver exterior and vivid magenta interior, creating a spectacular visual contrast with the Museum’s historic nineteenth-century interior and colossal Corinthian columns.

“Through their use of space and materials, Studio Gang pushes the limits of our summer series to new heights, literally and figuratively,” said Chase W. Rynd, Hon. ASLA, executive director of the National Building Museum. “They have ingeniously coopted a commonplace material—the paper tube—into the ultimate building block, capable of reaching dazzling heights and affecting the sound, light, and scale of our surrounding building.”

Hive’s form recalls other built and natural structures such as Saarinen’s Gateway Arch in St. Louis, Brunelleschi’s Dome at the Florence Cathedral in Italy, vernacular Musgum mud huts in Cameroon, and the curvature of a spider’s web. By utilizing the catenary shape, each chamber will balance structural forces and support its own weight, while attaining a height that enables a unique acoustic signature. The tall yet intimate forms will allow visitors to inhabit the installation at the ground level and to experience it from the Museum’s upper-floor balconies, providing a variety of exciting perspectives.

“When you enter the Great Hall you almost feel like you’re in an outside space because of the distance sound travels before it is reflected back and made audible,” said Studio Gang founding principal Jeanne Gang. “We’ve designed a series of chambers shaped by sound that are ideally suited for intimate conversations and gatherings as well as performances and acoustic experimentation. Using wound paper tubes, a common building material with unique sonic properties, and interlocking them to form a catenary dome, we create a hive for these activities, bringing people together to explore and engage the senses.”

Visitors will be invited to explore how a structure can modify and reflect sound, light, scale, and human interaction. Hive’s smaller chambers will promote organic, intimate encounters and play with tubular instruments ranging from simple drum-like tubes to chimes suspended within the space. Each chamber will have unique acoustic properties that will affect the instruments’ tone, reverberation, and reflection as well as visitors’ perceptions. The large main chamber will bring visitors together to engage with each other and the structure under a soaring dome that filters the natural light of the Great Hall and creates intricate light and shadow patterns in the space.

Just outside the installation, Philadelphia-based design educator Alex Gilliam’s notched cardboard Build It! Disks will provide a hands-on cooperative building activity. Founded by MacArthur Fellow Jeanne Gang, Studio Gang is an architecture and urban design practice based in Chicago and New York. Their award-winning projects range from the Arcus Center for Social Justice Leadership at Kalamazoo College in Michigan to the Aqua Tower in Chicago.

In addition to designing exhibitions for the Art Institute of Chicago, Design Miami at Art Basel Miami Beach, and the Chicago Architecture Biennial, the Studio was recently selected to design the expansion of the American Museum of Natural History in New York. Hive is the latest collaboration between the National Building Museum and Studio Gang. In 2003, Jeanne Gang exhibited a translucent marble curtain hung in tension for the exhibition Masonry Variations; she presented a lecture for the Museum’s 2009 Women of Architecture series on “Transforming Skylines and Communities”; and in 2010 Gang served as an advisor to the Intelligent Cities project.

Hive is part of the Museum’s Summer Block Party, an annual series of installations and events for visitors of all ages. Previous Summer Block Party collaborations include ICEBERGS by James Corner Field Operations (2016), the BEACH by Snarkitecture (2015), and the BIG Maze by the Bjarke Ingels Group (2014). Throughout the run of Hive, the Museum will reprise its popular “Late Nights,” offering special evening hours every Wednesday featuring live music as well as food and beverages from Hill Country’s Backyard Barbecue.

The dates of Wednesday Late Nights are July 5, July 12, July 19, July 26, August 2, August 9, August 16, August 23, and August 30. These after-hours events will be 6 to 9 pm. Tickets are required and will be available at go.nbm.org/hive. The Museum will once again host “Ward Days” in partnership with the Council of the District of Columbia. Ward Days feature free admission to Hive and the Museum’s exhibitions for residents of all 8 Wards of Washington, D.C.

Ward Day dates will be announced by June 2017. Free, drop-in programs to complement Hive will be offered most Thursdays and Saturdays, including collaborations for interactive theatrical and musical performances. Other Hive programs include behind-the-scenes construction tours; a special edition of the Spotlight on Design lecture series featuring MacArthur “Genius” Fellow and installation architect Jeanne Gang on July 6; summer reading lists for children and adults co-created with the DC Public Library; and an after-hours program for teens on August 10.

Studio Gang

Photographer: Timothy Schenck

Hive - National Building Museum by Studio Gang | Installations ×

Photographer: Timothy Schenck

Hive - National Building Museum by Studio Gang | Installations ×

Photographer: Timothy Schenck

Hive - National Building Museum by Studio Gang | Installations ×

Photographer: Timothy Schenck

Hive - National Building Museum by Studio Gang | Installations ×

Photographer: Timothy Schenck

Hive - National Building Museum by Studio Gang | Installations ×