A rendering of the cube-shaped maze at the National Building Museum, open July 4 to September 5.

Show Me the Way

The BIG Maze at the National Building Museum welcomes explorers of all ages

A visit to the National Building Museum this summer might require a bit more path finding than usual—if you dare to enter the BIG Maze, that is. The Danish architecture firm BIG-Bjarke Ingels Group partnered with the museum to construct its first large-scale building installation in 26 years: a maze that spans 3,721 square feet and reaches up to 18 feet tall. When the Baltic birch plywood structure opens to the public in the museum’s Great Hall on July 4th, visitors of all ages will be able to explore its complex passageways at ground level—or enjoy a bird’s-eye view of the action from the second- and third-floor balconies.

Towering walls conceal the inner workings of the cube-shaped maze, which measures 61 feet wide on each side. Inside, the walls decrease in height as travelers near the center, revealing the logic behind the design. “The concept is simple. As you travel deeper into a maze, your path typically becomes more convoluted,” says architect Bjarke Ingels of his design. “What if we invert this scenario and create a maze that brings clarity and visual understanding upon reaching the heart of the labyrinth?” At the center of the maze, a “grand reveal” will provide a 360-degree understanding of the pathway in and out.

In addition to the BIG Maze, a number of other special events will take place as part of the National Building Museum’s Summer Block Party. Highlights include special tours of the maze as it’s being constructed on June 27, June 30 and July 1; late-night hours; and pop-up cookouts on the museum’s West Lawn, catered by Hill Country Barbecue, every Thursday to Saturday until Labor Day. The BIG Maze remains open until September 1. For more information, visit nbm.org