Studio Gang's intricate domed hive opens National Building Museum's summer series

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
– Jeanne Gang

UPDATE: Studio Gang's interactive installation for the National Building Museum’s 2017 Summer Block Series opened to the public yesterday (6 July) in Washington D.C.

The intricate structure, called Hive, is formed entirely by 2,700 wound interlocking paper tubes of different sizes – from several inches to 10ft high. They 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.”

Soaring to the uppermost reaches of the museum’s Great Hall, Studio Gang’s creation features three interconnected, domed chambers reaching 60ft in height. The tallest dome has an oculus over 10ft wide.

By utilising the catenary shape, each chamber balances structural forces and supports its own weight, while attaining a height that enables a unique acoustic signature. Visitors can inhabit the installation at both ground level and from the museum’s upper-floor balconies.

“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, who revealed the domed form is inspired by built structures such as Eero Saarinen’s Gateway Arch in St. Louis and Filippo Brunelleschi’s Dome at the Florence Cathedral in Italy.

“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.”

Hive’s smaller sections feature tubular instruments, ranging from simple drum-like tubes to chimes suspended within the space. These can be used by visitors as they explore the ways in which structures of different shapes and sizes can modify and reflect sound, light, scale, and human interaction.

“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, executive director of the National Building Museum. “They have ingeniously co-opted 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.”

The Hive will be open until September 4, 2017. During that time, the museum will hold regular ‘Late Nights’ every Wednesday featuring live music, discussions, talks and food and drink.

Previous Summer Block Party installations have been built by James Corner Field Operations, Snarkitecture and Bjarke Ingels Group, while in 2003 Gang exhibited a translucent marble curtain at the museum for an exhibition called ‘Masonry Variations’.

Jeanne Gang is the cover star of the latest issue of CLADmag. In an exclusive interview she discusses her past work, her most high-profile future projects and her belief that “design has the ability to manifest change in the world.”

Discussing the Summer Block Party commission, she said: “The theme of the past four years has been playfulness, so it’s an extension of that. People get so excited about being in a temporary space.

“More than any other art form, architecture is immersive. It gets people to respond to the environment.”

Studio Gang  Summer Block Party  National Building Museum  installations  architecture  design  Washington D.C.  Jeanne Gang 
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UPDATE: Studio Gang's interactive installation for the National Building Museum’s 2017 Summer Block Series opened to the public yesterday (6 July) in Washington D.C. The intricate structure, called Hive, is formed entirely by 2,700 wound interlocking paper tubes of different sizes – from several inches to 10ft high. They feature a reflective silver exterior and vivid magenta interior, “creating a spectacular visual contrast with the museum’s historic nineteenth-century interior and
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Yoga and other social activities take place in the Hive / Tim Schenck
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