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Life-size indoor maze takes over National Building Museum this summer
The BIG Maze construction, July 1. Photo by Museum Staff.
WASHINGTON, DC.- This summer, the National Building Museum, in partnership with BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, will create a never-before-seen large-scale maze for the Museum's historic home in Washington, D.C. Soaring approximately 18 feet high and measuring 60 feet by 60 feet, the maple plywood structure will boast a series of twists and turns for visitors to weave through and explore. The "BIG Maze" will be open July 4 to September 1, 2014.

Inspired by ancient labyrinths, garden and hedge mazes of 17th and 18th-century Europe, and modern American corn mazes, this contemporary maze will be located in the West Court of the National Building Museum's historic Great Hall. In addition to viewing the maze from the ground floor, visitors will be able to get an unexpected aerial perspective from the Museum's second- and third-floor balconies.

Bjarke Ingels said of his design: "The concept is simple: as you travel deeper into a maze, your path typically becomes more convoluted. What if we invert this scenario and create a maze that brings clarity and visual understanding upon reaching the heart of the labyrinth?" From outside, the maze's cube-like form hides the final reveal behind its 18-foot-tall walls. On the inside, the walls slowly descend towards the center which concludes with a grand reveal—a 360 degree understanding of your path in and how to get out.

This will be the first large-scale building installation inside the National Building Museum since 1988, when Frank Gehry designed a sheet metal structure to celebrate the centennial of the Sheet Metal Workers International Association for the exhibition Sheet Metal Craftsmanship: Progress in Building. The Maze is also the Museum's first collaboration with BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group, and is a preview for an upcoming exhibition which will explore the architectural design process through the work of the dynamic Danish firm. Titled amBIGuity, it is set to open at the National Building Museum in late 2014.

"This distinctive maze offers our visitors a chance to physically interact with the work of a cutting-edge, international design firm," said Chase W. Rynd, executive director of the National Building Museum. "It will be a great framework for exploring the exhibition later in the fall."

The BIG Maze is part of the National Building Museum's annual "Summer Block Party," a slate of programming, exhibitions, concerts, late nights, and Hill Country's Backyard Barbecue pop-up on the West Lawn.

BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group is a Copenhagen and New York based group of architects, designers, and thinkers operating within the fields of architecture, urbanism, research, and development. BIG is led by eight partners - Bjarke Ingels, Andreas Klok Pedersen, Finn Nørkjær, David Zahle, Jakob Lange, Thomas Christoffersen and Managing Partners, Sheela Maini Søgaard and Kai-Uwe Bergmann. With an international team of more than 200 people, BIG works on projects across a broad spectrum of industries and in more than 20 countries worldwide. We take a human-centered approach to our work—looking at how our urban environments can increase the quality of life in finding ways of designing cities and buildings as double ecosystems that are both ecologically and economically profitable. In our work process we put great focus on the necessary details in order to realize the BIG idea.

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