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Got a Plan for the Balls From “The Beach”? You Could Win $3,500

The Beach, in its prime. Photograph by Lauren Joseph.

It’s been nearly four months since a team of volunteers packed up the nearly 1 million plastic balls that filled the National Building Museum’s summertime ball pit known as “The Beach” and carted them off to the Dupont Underground. But just what does the long-planned subterranean arts space plan to do with all those balls?

On Monday, the Dupont Underground put it to the public: the organization behind the forthcoming venue is holding a contest for ideas of what to do with the balls. The winning designer will get $3,500, plus a $10,000 budget to install their vision in time for the Underground’s opening later this year.

“The whole idea is to engage the space,” says Braulio Agnese, the Dupont Underground’s managing director. “We’ve got all this space and all these balls.”

A six-member jury, which includes a representative from the Building Museum, will preside over the “Re-Ball!” contest, which is taking entries through March 4. A winner is scheduled to be announced a few weeks later, with the resulting exhibit installed in time for an April 30 opening at the 14,000-square-foot space.

Entrants have near-complete creative reign to do what they want with the balls. “[The balls] could be performance art, could be destroyed, could be strung together,” Agnese says.

There’s just one category of design that’ll be disqualified on sight: “No ball pit,” Agnese says. “We were never going to recreate the Beach.”

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Staff Writer

Benjamin Freed joined Washingtonian in August 2013 and covers politics, business, and media. He was previously the editor of DCist and has also written for Washington City Paper, the New York Times, the New Republic, Slate, and BuzzFeed. He lives in Adams Morgan.