Interactive installation lets visitors enjoy the beach without leaving the district

WASHINGTON — Lots of folks are hitting the beach this holiday weekend and throughout the summer season.  If your jaunts won’t take you to Sandy Point State Beach on the Chesapeake Bay, or Ocean City and Virginia Beach on the Atlantic, the National Building Museum offers another option.  It’s called the BEACH, and it’s located in the museum’s Great Hall.

This summer installation “brings together and exposes all of the different disciplines that go into building,” says Brett Rodgers, the Building Museum’s Vice President for Marketing and Communications.

“Architecture and design are the obvious ones, and very important.  But what about engineering, construction, materials, historic concerns, historic building context, environmental concerns?  All those disciplines are in view,” he says.

This beach’s ocean contains about 750,000 translucent plastic balls, with a shoreline atmosphere complete with beach chairs and umbrellas on a surface that might fool your feet.

“It’s a special turf that the floor of the beach enclosures is lined with.  Everything in here is an intentional design choice,” Rodgers says.  “So this turf, rather than sand, it does kind of simulate the feeling of sand a little bit.”

Brooklyn-based Snarkitecture came up with the concept and design, and created the beach.

Not only is this indoor shore air conditioned, but it also includes an assortment of snacks that can one-up any traditional boardwalk offerings.  BEACH-goers can choose from several flavors of kombucha, to stuffed dates, gourmet popcorn and ice cream pops.

Visitors during the Independence Day opening seemed pleased with the installation.

“The beach exhibit is a lot of fun, definitely for kids and adults.  It doesn’t feel exactly like a real beach, but it’s pretty close if you’re never been to a real beach,” says Ryan Williams from Florida.

Emily Pregmon, also from Florida, agrees with Ryan about the feel of the beach.  “But it’s a lot more fun.  No sharks,” she adds with a chuckle. Her comment, a likely reference to the recent increase of shark attacks off of the North Carolina coast.

Michael Pregmon, 11, also had a blast.  “I would like a beach like this in Florida,” he noted.

The BEACH is open through Labor Day.

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