One of the hottest spots in DC this summer was the Hive at the National Building Museum. This special exhibit closed on Labor Day. But there are plenty of reasons to visit now that the Hive has flown away.
The museum’s fourth “Summer Block Party” installation, like the others, appeared to be a crowd pleaser. The Hive was made of 2,700 paper construction tubes used for making concrete pillars and designed by the architect Jeanne Gang. The magenta color was inspired by the Women’s March in DC, Gang told The Architects Newpaper.
Inside were percussion instruments – made of tubes of course – for all to enjoy, and materials for hands-on building outside the structure. While I was there, someone was playing a wooden flute and the effect was quite magical as the sound floated throughout this large space.
Don’t wait until next summer’s “Block Party” to see what else the Building Museum has to offer.
Its Timber City exhibit is well worth a visit before it leaves on September 10th. It highlights wood as the old-new sustainable material for construction even for high-rises, including in New York City at 475 West 18th Street. I learned about new technologies in creating long-lasting and strong wood building materials for inside and out.
After my visit, I asked Travis Price, a neighbor and architect what he thought:
“I’m extremely fond of wood as an interior finish product and for modest size structural systems when using highly efficient engineered woods. Steel and concrete is a greater approach for most structural work to save ecology, to save lives, and to cut down significantly on cost/maintenance.
“I’m adamantly not fond of wood as an exterior product as it is a perpetual maintenance nightmare and it simply rots. It takes a load of fossil fuel products to keep outside wood stable. Metals and glass for me are the most ecological, resilient, and enduring exterior systems. They have the longest life span with the least carbon footprint from production and endurance.”
It was another Forest Hills neighbor, Rona Walters, who persuaded me to go. Walters offered a private tour of the museum, which is housed in what originally was the U.S. Pension Building and built between 1883 and 1887. She is a volunteer docent and enjoys talking about U.S. Army Quartermaster General Montgomery Meigs, who was the building’s architect and engineer. On our tour, she pointed out many of the building’s unique architectural features.
There are free daily tours at 11:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., and 1:30 p.m. They last 45 minutes. You might even get Rona!
The National Building Museum is quite convenient to the Red Line from Van Ness. It takes about ten minutes to get to Judiciary Square. Head to the Building Museum exit. The museum is directly across F Street from the Metro escalator and elevators.
Admission is free if you’re a museum member or are two years old and younger. Otherwise, tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for seniors (60+), students and youths (3-17).
The museum’s hours are Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sundays from 11 a..m. to 5 p.m. Find more information at nbm.org.