The Hirshorn’s Big Blue Balloon

DC’s  Hirshorn museum recently released plans to create a new meeting space that fills its courtyard and mushrooms above the roof. What’s fascinating about this is that it’s a balloon. Literally. A big blue one. To be blown up in May and October of each year to provide a temporary space for concerts, performing arts, and films. The New York Times loves the idea, the Washington Post is iffy. DC is often set on edge by these kinds of things (remember how the Corcoran trashed plans for an ultra-modern Frank Ghery addition a few years ago?). “What will the tourists think?” The Washington Post sums up their worries:

…if a precedent is established to build temporary structures so as to have greater aesthetic freedom (and less bureaucratic interference), then they may well proliferate, with further impact on the look and design of the city.

I suppose DC has a smaller footprint and a more consistent architectural style (Neo-classical/Beaux-Arts) than many other cities, but a little spice would liven it up. Though they’ve already tried “spice” with the Hirshorn’s architecture — the building is often called “Bunshaft’s oversize toilet seat”. Apparently they are still acclimating to Gordon Bunshaft’s 1974-designed building.

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