The monochrome ball pit that graced Washingtonian's selfies last summer is making a comeback in Tampa, Fla., more than 800 miles from where it started. The Vinik Family Foundation—led by Jeff Vinick, the owner and chairman of Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, and his wife Penny—tapped The Beach, designed by New York firm Snarkitecture, to migrate south.
"After visiting The Beach DC last summer, I was inspired to share Snarkitecture’s vision with Tampa Bay," says Penny Vinik in a press release. "The Beach Tampa transforms the familiar beach experience into a truly unique, visually stimulating and tactile activity. It’s just pure fun."
The Beach Tampa opens at Amalie Arena on Aug. 5 and runs through Aug. 25. This second installation will be super-sized: 15,000 square feet, 1.2 million plastic balls, and 75 feet of "shoreline" to the National Building Museum's 10,000 square feet, approximately 650,000 to 700,000 plastic balls, and 50 feet of "shoreline."
"The Beach Tampa will actually be twice the size of its predecessor in DC," says Snarkitecture partner Ben Porto, AIA, in an email, "but the trick is to ensure that the same experience carries through, which is contingent on the relationship between the elements. So some pieces have just scaled up to accommodate the larger crowds like the pier, but we have also added new 'dune' seating, and taking advantage of the doubled number of balls we have wrapped mirrors on all three sides of the 'ocean' to create a real sense of vastness to the installation."
Unlike the original, this installation will be held in an events arena, not a museum. Ellerbe Beckett (acquired by AECOM in 2009) designed the 19-year-old arena, and Kansas City, Mo.–based Generator Studio recently finished a renovation of the venue. "This is the first time this type of event has been done in our arena," says event marketing manager, Angela Lanza, in an email, "and if research shows true, the first that an experience like this has been done in an arena format." The Beach Tampa will be held on the arena floor, using the same space as the hockey ice rink or the indoor football field, according to Lanza.
The National Building Museum is not involved in The Beach Tampa, according to Brett Rodgers, the museum's vice president for marketing and communications. "I’m very interested to see how the installation evolves in a new and very different context – the physical similarities and differences in terms of how it's built, the materials used, the language used to describe it, the setting and place, length of time of the run, and of course how the local community uses it and reacts to it," he says in an email.
But wait—didn't the National Building Museum hand over those plastic balls to Dupont Underground to make another site-specific installation?
Yes, those balls have reached the end of their Beach life. "[U]nfortunately, the balls in the Dupont Underground are glued together and can't be reused," Porto says. "The Beach Tampa will be using all new spheres. However, there are plans for The Beach to tour after Tampa so this next round of spheres will continue to be reused for the duration of the project."
Snarkitecture would not specify where the ball pit was headed next, so these could be coming to a city near you.
The Beach Tampa runs from Aug. 5 through 25. Admission is free. Tickets are available here.