The National 'Lawn'

John Hill
9. July 2019
Photo: Timothy Schenck, courtesy of National Building Museum

A large undulating Lawn now covers the Great Hall of the National Building Museum in Washington, DC. Designed by the LAB at Rockwell Group, the installation is the setting for the museum's sixth annual Summer Block Party.

Lawn opened, appropriately enough, on July 4th, Independence Day, and will be in place until Labor Day on September 2nd. Its design, unveiled in May, consists of a synthetic green surface built atop terraced scaffolding, Adirondack chairs, hammocks, a swimming pool/fountain, cornhole boards, and speakers spread throughout the installation that emanate sounds of summer as well as stories read by such familiar voices as Whoopi Goldberg.

Photo: Timothy Schenck, courtesy of National Building Museum

The lawn of the installation's name can be seen as an armature for taking a break from the summer heat but also immersing oneself in a constructed, idealized summer, complete with an augmented-reality video game where children can catch "fireflies" and release them.

Photo: Timothy Schenck, courtesy of National Building Museum

David Rockwell — the Rockwell in Rockwell Group — wants Lawn to inspire visitors to daydream. With a portion of the installation built up to the museum’s third floor, those daydreams might just gravitate to the up-close Corinthian capitals of the Great Hall’s columns — another piece of abstract nature on view this summer at the National Building Museum. 

Photo: Timothy Schenck, courtesy of National Building Museum

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