Architects Take a Swing at Mini Golf

By Stephanie Murg Comment

Why waste your time trying to angle a put into the gaping maw of a clown–or past a revolving windmill–when you can use a round of mini golf to reflect on the importance of green roofs, ponder the evolution of the office, or consider the utopian lineage of the sphere? These opportunities and more await you in Washington, D.C. at the National Building Museum, which has just opened an indoor Mini Golf exhibition in the form of eighteen holes designed and built by Washington-area architects, landscape architects, and contractors. The two nine-hole courses (each par 26), open through Labor Day, explore the participating designers’ visions of “Building the Future” alongside displays of items from the museum’s collections and against a backdrop of colorful murals studded with famous buildings and monuments.

“Players have a chance not only to practice their swing, but also to be inspired by the creative process behind 18 unique architectural marvels,” says Chase W. Rynd, the museum’s president and executive director. These range from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill’s glowing green “Holograph Hole,” inspired by state-of-the-art 3D applications, to “Capitol City Crops,” in which Rippeteau Architects envisions a future where urban farms dot the National Mall: golfers can choose to maneuver through the farm fields full of carrots and rutabagas or soar through the garden apartments at a bird’s eye view of the Washington Monument. Design Foundry’s “The 19th Crater” celebrates the idea of global expansion to the Moon while KUBE Architecture plays with other dimensions in “Urban Pinball,” a network of LED-lit “time tunnels” that explores uncertainty.

At the National Building Museum, mini golf holes designed by Wiencek + Associates Architects + Planners (left) and Inscape Publico (right).