Summer weather has arrived in full force for most of the country, but the National Building Museum’s latest installation, ICEBERGS, provides a stark contrast. Designed by New York–based James Corner Field Operations, an urban design and landscape architecture practice known for its work on the The High Line in New York and Tongva Park in Santa Monica, California, ICEBERGS is on view through September 5.
The installation evokes an underwater landscape of glacial ice fields in the museum’s Great Hall. It features various-sized “icebergs” made of scaffolding and polycarbonate paneling, which is commonly used to build greenhouses. Suspended 20 feet above the surface of the floor is the “water line,” and the tallest berg reaches above to a height of 56 feet, equivalent to the museum’s third-floor balcony. Vistors can ascend a viewing area inside this berg, cross an undersea bridge, take rides on “ice chute” slides from one of the bergs, or relax on bean bags distributed around the floor.
“ICEBERGS invokes the surreal underwater-world of glacial ice fields,” says James Corner, founder and director of James Corner Field Operations. “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.”
“ICEBERGS symbolizes an extreme counterpoint to the sweltering heat of the Washington, D.C., summer,” says Chase W. Rynd, Hon. ASLA, executive director of the National Building Museum. “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.”
All photos by Timothy Schenck.