Architecture, miniature golf, and air conditioning—all ingredients that make for a family-friendly outing during the sweltering summer months in Washington, D.C. Following the success of last year’s inaugural event, the National Building Museum has brought back its high-design, indoor Mini Golf exhibition. This year’s attraction, which opened on May 27, has expanded to include two nine-hole golf courses, Blue and Green (with Blue being the unwritten harder course).
Each hole was designed and constructed by a team of local architects, landscape architects, and contractors under the theme “Building the Future.” For example, for hole 5 on the Green course, titled “Capital City Crops,” designer Rippeteau Architects imagines a D.C. flooded by the Chesapeake Bay. Iconic structures have been encapsulated in glass domes—or mixing bowls—and must be viewed from an elevated National Mall that also serves as farmland. Look for an unexpected observer in the Washington Monument porthole.
Suitable for players ages 4 and up, the holes integrate many quirky and entertaining features such as interactive lights, miniature construction toys, and a confounding hologram. Though the fairways may look straightforward, many are deceptively challenging, as evidenced by players' frequent cheers, groans, and laughter. Be forewarned that carpet and polished wood can make for tough playing surfaces. The full course description with information on sponsors, designers, and design objectives is available on the National Building Museum’s website. Some of the memorable holes ARCHITECT staff members played are below.
After players have finished each course, they can vote for their favorite hole for the People’s Choice award. The Mini Golf exhibition is open during normal museum hours through Labor Day, Sept. 2. The museum also offers “Mini Golf Late Nights” featuring golfing, musical performances, and barbecue from local favorite Hill Country restaurant through 9 p.m. Five late night dates remain: June 27, July 11, July 24, Aug. 8, and Aug. 22. nbm.org