James Corner creates huge iceberg installation for National Building Museum summer series

by Kim Megson | 10 Mar 2016

James Corner Field Operations have designed a vast glacial installation for the National Building Museum in Washington, which will make visitors feel as though they are walking through an underwater world of ice fields.

The urban design, landscape architecture and public realm practice – best-known for their acclaimed work on New York’s High Line – have designed the immersive installation for the museum’s returning Summer Block Party series, which will run from July to September.

Called ICEBERGS, the piece will span and climb the museum's Great Hall, occupying an area of 12,540sq ft (1,100sq m). Reusable construction materials such as scaffolding and polycarbonate paneling represent caves and grottoes on the ocean floor, and icebergs floating on the ‘water line’ – which is suspended 20ft high bisecting the vertical space.

Visitors will be able to ascend a viewing area inside the tallest iceberg – which rises 56ft and reaches the museum's third-storey balcony – cross an ‘undersea’ bridge and enjoy an educational programme exploring the relationship between landscape architecture, design, and the environment.

“ICEBERGS invokes the surreal underwater-world of glacial ice fields,” said James Corner, the studio’s founder and director. “Such a world is both beautiful and ominous given our current epoch of climate change, ice-melt, and rising seas. The installation creates an ambient field of texture, movement, and interaction, as in an unfolding landscape of multiples, distinct from a static, single object.”

Explaining the decision to commission the installation, museum executive director Chase W. Rynd said: “ICEBERGS symbolises an extreme counterpoint to the sweltering heat of the Washington D.C. summer. We hope that James Corner Field Operations’ striking design will provoke both serious public conversation about the complex relationship between design and landscape, while also eliciting a sense of wonder and play among visitors of all ages.”

ICEBERGS will be on display from 2 July to 5 September.

The Summer Block Party series has become a very popular annual event for the National Building Museum. Last year, over 180,000 visitors came to see an installation called BEACH, created by Snarkitecture, which was formed of 750,000 recyclable translucent plastic balls. In 2014, Bjarke Ingels Group filled the Great Hall with an enormous maze.

James Corner  Filed Operations  National Building Museum  Summer Block Series  Washington  architecture  design  environment 
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James Corner Field Operations have designed a vast glacial installation for the National Building Museum in Washington, which will make visitors feel as though they are walking through an underwater world of ice fields. The urban design, landscape architecture and public realm practice – best-known for their acclaimed work on New York’s High Line – have designed the immersive installation for the museum’s returning Summer Block Party series, which will
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Visitors will be able to ascend a viewing area inside the tallest iceberg – which rises 56ft and reaches the museum's third-storey balcony / James Corner Field Operations/National Building Museum
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