- The Washington Times - Monday, July 9, 2018

There’s a new white house in Washington, but don’t expect to see the Secret Service guarding it.

Titled “Fun House,” the interactive installation in the National Building Museum’s Great Hall showcases a monochromatic house, with a front yard and a back yard enclosed by a picket fence. And a swimming pool packed with thousands of plastic balls.

“It’s a good learning experience not just with the architecture that is in here, but also with the people,” said Monyka Randolph, a National Building Museum employee. “There’s a lot of people from different parts of the country that come here just to see this. It’s really fascinating to see how everyone adapts to the different things in here.”

Attracting more than 1,800 visitors daily since it opened on the Fourth of July, Fun House has connected Ms. Randolph with people from Brazil, Spain, France and Dubai who have traveled to Washington just to see the exhibit, she said.

The New York-based design studio Snarkitecture worked with curators to install the exhibit for the museum’s annual Summer Block Party.

Fun House was established by Snarkitecture co-founders Alex Mustonen and Daniel Arsham and architect Ben Porto, and celebrates the design firm’s 10-year anniversary via a retrospective that highlights 42 projects and installations the firm has created.

Some of the featured projects include installations from Milan’s design week and the “Beach” installation that was featured in the Building Museum’s Great Hall in 2015.

“We have taken these installations that they have done in other places and reconceived them for the house space, so they are built within and around the house,” said Cathy Frankel, the museum’s vice president for exhibitions and collections. “They [Snarkitecture] have the sensibility for creating environments that are fun and friendly, but beautiful at the same time.”

“It’s a unique experience that they will never experience anywhere else,” said Ms. Frankel, who noticed adults jumping into the swimming pool/ball pit with their children. “It’s beautiful, it’s fun and I do think its disarming people a little bit which I really like. It’s very photogenic, so people are taking pictures, but people are off the phones.”

Meredith Grady of Rockville was eager to dive into the pool.

“I came with my daughter today and its super fun getting to do all the things I did as a kid that I haven’t done in years,” Ms. Grady said. “I’m wearing a dress today, but I’m extremely tempted, so I think I am going to get in despite the dress.”

Fun House is the fifth installation to sit in the Great Hall and will be there until Labor Day. Ms. Frankel said the museum started planning Fun House with Snarkitecture last August.

“We started building on June 8 with a lot of preplanning,” said Ms. Frankel, who had a team of 24 workers build the house. “I have a four-page spreadsheet of every different object and item that is in the exhibition. We gathered all of that stuff and started building the house, platforms, and the pool.”

Visitors shared their favorite Fun House installations, which range from the Marble Run room with thousands of marbles covering the sculpture, the Pillow Fort of hundreds of cushions to stack and climb, and the bathroom, which features a bathtub filled with plastic balls.

“I think it’s so cool that they took something that is kind of mundane like a house and made every room into something really different,” said Katie Diller, 23, of Northwest. “I love how the paper towel things hang from the ceiling They turned a bathtub into a ball pit. It just makes it really fun for everyone to come.”

A child from Alexandria was excited to experience Fun House because he visited Snarkitecture’s Beach installation three years ago.

“The ball pit is my favorite,” said Travis Hayes, 8, who did a cannonball as he gave the interview.

Deb Daly of Boston said she enjoyed the Light Cavern — a one room featuring thousands of white, perforated fabric strips hanging from the ceiling.

“I think it’s a really good idea to change mundane things and turn them into something that is very unique and makes you think about textures, different things that you don’t think about every day,” Ms. Daly said as she sat in the bathtub with a friend. “I also think it is very fun for kids, but also like us we were just giggling and laughing around.”

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