Re-ball! The Dupont Underground Design Competition

Submission: March 04, 2016
Registration: March 04, 2016
Language: English
Location: Washington, USA
Prizes: 1st Prize: US$3,500 & Runner-Up Prize: US$500
Type: Open


Re-Ball! is an international open design competition to turn 650,000+ 3-inch, white, translucent plastic balls into a site-specific installation in the Dupont Underground’s 14,000-square-foot east platform. The balls were previously part of the National Building Museum’s blockbuster 2015 summer destination The Beach.
The winning concept will take the medium in a new direction, one that responds to the uniqueness of the installation site. From the open, light-filled box of the National Building Museum’s Great Hall to the curving concrete volume of the Dupont Underground’s east platform, Re-Ball! entries should transform the constituent materials — and the space itself — into an entirely new experience.
Re-Ball! is open to everyone across all disciplines: artists, architects, designers, and the general public. The winning entry should be thoughtful, provocative, witty, safe, and executable on a limited budget, in a limited time frame, and within the confines of the site.


Re-Ball! challenges entrants to create an installation re-using the 650,000+ ball-pit balls that first appeared in the Beach installation. The winning concept will take the medium in a new direction, one that responds to the uniqueness of the installation site. From the open, light-filled box of the National Building Museum’s Great Hall to the curving concrete volume of the Dupont Underground’s east platform, Re-Ball! entries should transform the constituent materials — and the space itself — into an entirely new experience.


The Re-Ball! balls are made of recyclable, hypoallergenic plastic. They are soft enough to be malleable, but firm enough to maintain their shape. They have a uniform surface with no holes and are easily punctured or cut. Entrants may use any other materials in conjunction with the balls and may alter the balls in any way they see fit to create their vision, provided that the proposal is constructible within the allotted space, time, and budget. The competition doesn’t require that every single ball be used (we estimate that there are between 650,000 and 700,000 of them), but the balls must feature prominently in the installation.


The Dupont Underground is raw, infrastructural space, all exposed concrete and, in the platforms, subway tile. Platforms are accessed by stairs from the sidewalks of surrounding streets. For the east platform installation space, one stairway — indicated by the red arrow in the image above — will be the access point for the installation. During the course of the Re-Ball! installation there will be no plumbing or HVAC, and only the most basic lighting. There will be power and the ability to use spot lighting as necessary.

The Dupont Underground is limited in the number of visitors that are allowed into the space at any given time. The largest group that will be allowed into the space at one time during the course of the installation is 99. This number could be smaller, depending on how the winning installation uses the space. We believe this is, in fact, an advantage, as it offers visitors a more intimate experience with the space and the installation. In its current form, the Dupont Underground is mysterious and catacomb-like, and the winning submission should play with these qualities.

The area for the Re-Ball! installation will be about 14,000 ft2 (1,400m2) of floor space. The installation does not need to use all of this space, or all of the balls, but we would like to see the design concept engage the space as much as possible. Please see the downloadable PDF and DWG files on the Resources page. There you will also find photos and links to other information pertaining to the space.


Re-Ball! is a single-stage competition, with one winner and three runners-up. If the winner is unable to proceed with the installation for any reason, the runners-up will be called upon in order of selection by the jury. The jury will select the winning submissions based on overall concept, spatial relationship to the site, creativity of materials use, and ease and appropriateness of construction.

The deadline for submissions is 11:59:59 p.m. (EDT) on Friday, March 4, 2016.

Winning entrants will be notified by March 15 and requested to develop construction drawings for submission to the Dupont Underground for technical review. Design development will involve input from the organization to ensure that construction is feasible and within budget.

The Dupont Underground will provide a small construction team, to be directed by the organization and the winning designer. The Dupont Underground will also assist in recruiting construction volunteers as needed to see the project to completion. Tools and equipment will be provided by the Dupont Underground as needed.

Upon completion of the technical review, the winning design team will be asked to submit final construction drawings as quickly as possible so that the space and materials can be prepared for the buildout of the Re-Ball! installation. Depending on the winning design, the design team or their representatives will most likely need to be present on site for at least part of the time it takes to realize the final installation. The winning team, or a representative, must be present for the weekend of the installation opening on April 29, 2016, for press events, presentations, and other gatherings. Thus, total time commitment in Washington, D.C., will vary from three days to two weeks. The Dupont Underground will provide a housing and meal stipend over this time.

The competition is open to everyone across all disciplines: artists, architects, designers, and the general public.


Entries must be sent electronically as two separate PDF files not to exceed 5MB each. Each entry must contain the following documents, written in English.

Part One: Installation Proposal:

  • Page One (11” x 17” or A3): project summary (include registration number).
  • Up to 500-word text describing the concept and presenting the experience offered to the visitors.
  • Layout of selected images & drawings describing the project.
  • Page Two (11” x 17” or A3): images & drawings (include registration number).
  • Four (4) main views or elevations, or an axonometric drawing of the installation. Indicate dimensions and specify structure and supplementary materials (entrant is free to choose the scale).
  • A perspective showing the installation in its entirety. The entrant is free to rearrange the order of these elements to best represent their project.

Part Two: Team Information: Four (4) page maximum, (8.5”x11” or A4)

  • Name of the project followed by your unique registration number (this number must also appear on each design proposal sheet). The registration number is a combination of letters and numbers to be chosen by the team, but must be anonymous and not identify the team in any way.
  • Design team member names with brief CV.
  • Name of contact person, including contact coordinates.
  • A 100-word description of the team, highlighting its focus and strengths.
  • Name, location, and date of recent projects, publications, exhibits, or performances.
  • Any professional memberships on the part of team members that are relevant to the project.
  • Four images of selected projects for which team members have been responsible, followed by a brief description of each project.
  • This information will be withheld from the jury until the final selection of winners.

The deadline to receive proposals electronically is 11:59:59 p.m. (EDT) on Friday, March 4, 2016.

Proposals may be presented as part of an online exhibition. By taking part in the Re-Ball! competition, entrants authorize the Dupont Underground to make public, exhibit, and disseminate their proposals. All copyrights remain with the entrants.

The selected project will be announced to the public on Monday, March 21, 2016.

The architect or designer will oversee the design and construction of the installation in collaboration with the project manager assigned by the Dupont Underground. The entrants chosen to participate in the competition agree to work to the schedule established by the Dupont Underground.


Early Registration (by February 4): US$60.00 (includes kit of three balls)

Late Registration (by close of entries on March 4): US$90.00


Competition launch: Monday, January 4, 2016

Early registration deadline: Thursday, February 4, 2016, 11:59:59PM EDT

Close of questions: Thursday, February 18, 2016, 11:59:59PM EDT

Close of entries: Friday, March 4, 2016, 11:59:59PM EDT

Jury review: March 7 to March 12, 2016

Winner notification: Friday, March 18, 2016

Technical review and design development: March 7 to March 31, 2016

Public announcement of winner: Monday, March 21, 2016

Installation buildout: April 6 to April 27, 2016

Re-Ball! Ball (opening party): Friday, April 29, 2016

Exhibition dates: April 30 to June 1, 2016


The budget for the creation and construction of the installation is US$10,000 (including taxes) for the purchase of additional materials and/or the employment of consultants necessary for the realization of the project. This budget is managed jointly by the Dupont Underground and the designer.

  • First-place prize: US$3,500
  • Runner-up prize: US$500
  • Up to US$1,000 is available for travel expenses for the winning design team. If the winning team is foreign, additional funds will be made available.
  • Room and board can be provided at reduced rates at the Embassy Row Hotel.

Go to the competition’s website