Rockwell Group Blankets the National Building Museum in Greenery

The New York–based firm, helmed by multihyphenate architect David Rockwell, has unveiled an immersive green space for the National Building Museum’s Summer Block Party series in Washington, DC.

All photography by Timothy Schenck

Lawn, an immersive pop-up installation by The LAB at Rockwell Group, has officially opened at the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. The installation, open until Sept. 2, invites attendees to unwind in an idyllic park-like environment suited for summertime activities. A vast, sloping green space, built on a scaffolding superstructure, takes up the entirety of the museum’s Great Hall. Clusters of communal lounging areas feature ceiling-suspended hammocks that contain hidden speakers programmed with pre-recorded audio in which beloved American cultural figures such as Venus Williams, Bette Midler, and Jose Andres recount summertime memories.

Meanwhile, opportunities for playful diversions abound. Lounge chairs, umbrella stands, and equipment for games such as cornhole, cricket, bocce, and dominoes are situated throughout. The LAB at Rockwell Group also developed a custom augmented reality game in which participants chase and collect fireflies throughout the green space. A scaffolding tower scales the height of the Museum’s third floor, offering never-before-seen views of the Great Hall’s Renaissance Revival architecture, eight monumental Corinthian columns, and sculptural busts lining the roof. Sustainability was also a factor—Lawn’s surface material, provided by SynLawn, is comprised of sustainably grown sugarcane and is 100% recyclable, and the scaffolding will be reused once the exhibition draws to a close.

“Whether it’s a backyard or a public green, lawns bring people together and foster a sense of community,” says David Rockwell, echoing sentiments that define his firm’s substantial portfolio of airport terminals, world-class hotels, and Tony Award–winning set designs. “Our goal was to create an indoor lawn that would inspire people to share stories, make memories, and daydream, while honoring the great tradition of summertime.” 

Lawn is the museum’s sixth Summer Block Party installation, following Fun House and The Beach by Snarkitecture, Hive by Studio Gang, ICEBERGS by James Corner Field Operations, and BIG Maze by Bjarke Ingels Group

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