Though we’ve been concepting and implementing “Pop-Ups” for years, very few brands have recognized the economy, flexibility, and overall immersive effectiveness this business model can bring. Until recently. Like a tipping point (or perfect storm) more and more brands are cutting back on capital projects at the same time that Pop-Ups are being recognized for their better investment, per media hit, of advertising dollars. New York is awash with temporary outlets this holiday season.
And in a reversal of the traditional medium – art as the antennae of society – the Hirshhorn Museum of Modern Art is learning from the world of retail. The recent history of museum architecture has been awash in capital campaigns, bond issues, starchitects, and the promise of economic revival from Bilboa to Boston. But with the economy slagging and everyone trimming their budgets, everyone’s looking for a smarter alternative. The Smithsonian just announced an addition to their iconic Bunshaft-designed doughnut on the Mall in Washington. Designed By Diller Scofidio & Renfro (Ok – the starchitects are still here), the strikingly cheap addition ($5M) is flexible, temporary, and planned, of course, to be effective. the addition will literally inflate into the existing outdoor spaces to accommodate an entirely new program of contemporary art long ignored in stingy DC: film, performance and new media. And the punchline? Because it is a “temporary” construction, application and approval by the notoriously conservative DC review boards is not required. And like a true Pop-Up, if it doesn’t work, they can pack it up and chalk it up to a bold cultural experiment.
Maybe we’ll go back to the days when we confidently laid foundations and built things to last. For now, an architecture of “timelessness” takes on a whole new meaning.