Re-Ball! is an open design competition to turn 650,000+ 3-inch (76mm), white, translucent plastic balls into a site-specific installation in the Dupont Underground’s 14,000-square-foot (1,400m2) east platform. The balls were previously part of the National Building Museum’s blockbuster 2015 summer destination The Beach.

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.

Those who make the early registration deadline (11:59:59 p.m., February 4) will receive a kit of three plastic balls, to better understand the materials.


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.


The Dupont Underground is a 501(c)(3) cultural organization committed to developing multidisciplinary platforms for contemporary art and design at the intersection of technology and commerce. We are reimagining and reactivating a forgotten subterranean streetcar station in Washington, D.C., as a venue for creative exchange and an ongoing conversation about the future of the city. Dupont Underground comprises 75,000 square feet of infrastructural space and lies beneath the city’s iconic Dupont Circle, a nexus of cultural, civic, and commercial activity. There is no other venue like it in the District.


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 30, 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.


The Re-Ball! jury will review every project and select a short list of five to 10 projects for scrutiny. From this list, the top four will be ranked and reviewed for constructibility. Entrant information will not be known to the jury until after the projects are ranked.


Julian Hunt, Founder, Dupont Underground; architect and Co-Principal, Hunt Laudi Studio

Julian Hunt is an architect and writer, the founder of the Dupont Underground, and the co-founding principal of Hunt Laudi Studio, a Washington, D.C.–based practice dedicated to improving the public realm through design. The firms entry “A Great Inclined Plane” won the National Ideas Competition for the Washington Monument Grounds. Hunt Laudi Studio recently realized its winning design for a memorial park to commemorate the victims of the 2009 D.C. Metro train collision. 

Chase W. Rynd, Executive Director, National Building Museum

Chase W. Rynd is a nationally recognized leader in the museum and arts communities. Under his leadership, the National Building Museum has achieved a strong national profile through enhanced educational programs, scholarly and visually engaging exhibitions, and numerous outreach efforts. Prior to his work at the National Building Museum, Rynd was executive director and CEO of the Tacoma Art Museum, and held the same position at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts in Nashville, Tennessee.

Vesela Sretenović, Senior Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art, The Phillips Collection

Vesela Sretenović, Ph.D., directs the Phillips Collection’s contemporary art program, working with living artists, both nationally and internationally, to reinvigorate the Phillips’s legacy as a place for conversation, experimentation, and dialogue. Prior to her appointment at the Phillips, Sretenović was senior curator at the David Winton Bell Gallery at Brown University. She is a scholar of Joseph Beuys and specializes in the theoretical and practical aspects of installation art. She previously worked for the University at Buffalo Art Gallery and the Brooklyn Museum and has been an instructor in art history and art theory at the Rhode Island School of Design.

Michael Kubo, Co-Founding Partner, Collective–LOK

Michael Kubo is an architect, co-director of pinkcomma gallery in Boston, and the Wyeth Fellow of the Center for Advanced Study in the Visual Arts at the National Gallery of Art for 2015–2017. He is a founding partner of the design practice Collective–LOK, which is currently designing the 2016 Times Square Valentine Heart. In 2014, the practice was a finalist for the Young Architects Program at MoMA PS1 and received an honorable mention in the national design competition for a Peace Corps commemorative work in Washington, D.C. Kubo was Associate Curator for OfficeUS, the U.S. Pavilion at the 2014 International Architecture Biennale in Venice, and is a co-author of Heroic: Concrete Architecture and the New Boston (Monacelli Press, 2015).

Tendani Mpulubusi El, Founder, Tendani Studio

Tendani Mpulubusi El is a D.C.-based artist and entrepreneur who has produced multiple public art installations and runs Tendani Studio. As founder and head of the Ward 8 Arts & Culture Council, he facilitates socioeconomic development via arts, culture, and technology. He also works with the D.C. government to connect residents with opportunities for advancement and to help agencies achieve objectives. In 2008, Tendani Mpulubusi El was the youngest person ever to serve on a D.C. government board, as a commissioner of the Commission on the Arts and Humanities. He currently serves as a member of the District of Columbia Commemorative Works Committee.

Ultramoderne, Yasmin Vobis and Aaron Forrest, Principals

Ultramoderne is the award-winning architecture practice of Yasmin Vobis and Aaron Forrest. Recently, the duo’s “Chicago Horizon” won the 2015 Chicago Architecture Biennial's Lake Front Kiosk competition. In 2014, Ultramoderne was a finalist in the Van Alen Institute's National Parks Now competition, creating a unique wayfinding system for the Weir Farm National Historic Site. Yasmin and Aaron were residents at MoMA PS1 for the Rising Currents charrette and exhibition and are finalists in the 2016 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program. They have taught architecture and design at the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton University and currently teach at the Rhode Island School of Design.



Entrants must register at


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.



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.


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

Exhibition dates: April 30 to June 1, 2016



  • Is the installation to provide public access to an internal space, or is the intent for the installation to only be viewed?

The installation could have an internal space, or many for that matter. Ideally, it should be more than just viewed.

  • Will there be any power supplied for the installation?

Yes, there will be an electrical supply, and sound or lighting may be part of the design.

  • Can part of the construction budget be used to purchase equipment such as batteries, lights, etc.? 

Yes, you may allocate some of the budget toward these items. 

  • Will there be any access to water? 

For purposes of the installation, water will be available only on a very limited basis. The Dupont Underground space is not yet connected to the city’s water supply.

  • Can an entrant use materials provided free-of-charge by the entrant’s contacts?

Yes, you may use materials provided for free if you wish.

  • Is it possible to propose to forego some/all of the honorarium to the designer to allow for the increase of the construction budget?

Yes, you may use some or all of your honorarium toward the construction budget if you wish.

  • If donations are made to the competition to facilitate completion of the project, is it tax-deductible?

Yes, the Dupont Underground is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit entity, and all donations are tax-deductible.

  • Can we modify the surfaces of the space in any way (such as painting)?

Yes, you may modify surfaces, within limits. Surfaces may be used for securing elements of the installation, provided major remediation will not be required after the installation. Depending on extent and nature of the painting, it may or may not be allowed. Entrants should avoid proposing vast amounts of paint as part of their submissions.

  • Who owns the structure at the end of the display, and what happens to the installation?

The Dupont Underground owns the installation at the end of the exhibition. The installation will most likely be dismantled, and the materials either recycled or donated. We are interested in pursuing a third life for the plastic balls, if possible.

  • If teams receive a donation of materials would they be able to acknowledge the supplier's sponsorship?

Yes, you may credit the supplier’s sponsorship. 

  • Is there a limit to the number of submissions entrants can send in?

There is no limit to the number of submissions competition participants can submit.

  • What if team members collaborate on one or more teams? Are they eligible to enter multiple entries in that fashion?

There is no limit to the number of teams competition participants can be a part of.

  • Can we see the space prior to entering our design?

We are not allowing entrants from the D.C. area to visit the venue prior to entering the competition, as this would provide an unfair advantage over those entrants outside the District who won't have the possibility of seeing the space.


  • How many hours per day will the space be open? What hours? How will you handle keeping the total number at 99 maximum at one time? Will folks have tickets, or be admitted in waves?

During the Re-Ball installation there will be an online sign-up system and the installation will be viewable by a specific number of people at a time, they will have tickets and be given access in waves. We have not yet established our open hours during the installation but it will most likely be 4 to 6 days a week, all day on the weekends and skewed towards the evening on weekdays. 

  • Are the train tracks useable for a transport vehicle?

The train tracks can be used, but there is no access to the exterior via the tracks, so whatever you envision might use the tracks would have to be brought down the steps or assembled in the space. 

  • Is it necessary to have a team?

Teams are encouraged, but not required.

  • What is the mass of each ball?

Each ball weighs approximately 13g.

  • Can a vendor, such as a small coffee stand be included in the proposal?

Yes, ideas such as additional programs for the space are welcome.

  • Are there any guidelines we have to follow about exit safety and fire safety? Can the installation be placed in front of the other escape ways? Are they closed or open for emergency during the installation? 

We will need clearance around entry and exit, and lines of sight between exits and emergency signage need to be maintained.  The configuration of the installation may impact how many people the city will allow up to have in the space at once. It is not advisable to design it in a way that blocks the access. The winning design will go through a code and fire marshal review, and may be adjusted to conform.

  • Is it possible to place the installation in front of the elongation of the tunnel by closing the space/path with the installation?

Yes, you can block the tunnel access points, they will not be accessible to the public. We will have temporary walls in the tunnels to prevent visitors from wandering off.

  • The lighting provided is only the original ceiling bulbs above the platform?  What type of bulb/wattage/all functioning?

Yes, lighting is from original fixtures. The bulbs are 18 watt energy usage LED with 100 Watt equivalence, they are all functioning

  • Will there be an organized effort to re-use/donate construction materials?

Yes, we already are receiving unsolicited proposals for the third life of the balls. If a proposed third life is part of your project that would be great, but not required.

  • Will Dupont Underground provide staffing for the exhibition duration, if so what type?

Yes, we will be providing staffing of 2 volunteer docents and 2 safety/fire watch patrols at all open hours.

  • What are the restrictions for drilling into the ceiling, floors, or walls? 

You may drill into the ceiling floor and walls. We'd prefer a minimum of drilling on the tiled wall (the outer wall of the half circle) but some drilling will be allowed.

  • Are we allowed to build on top of the track? Will visitors be allowed to walk on the track? 

Yes and yes. The track is now fairly flush to the floor, although there is a 3" drop from the platform to the track. On the resources page the current photographs are more accurate than the historic ones.

  • Are we allowed to close off egress #1 and #4 if this is a key part of the design? 

They need to be accessible as emergency egress, but you can limit and guide the flow of people so that under normal circumstances they do use those exits.

  • Is a cost break down of the proposal required? 

No, you do not need to include a complete cost breakdown, but the thoroughness of your proposal is important. It will be helpful to the jury to have a sense that you have run the numbers, thought about hardware and material requirements and their costs. 

  • In the submission requirements, it is stated that we should provide "four main views or elevations". Are the "views" considered renders? Are we allowed to submit four sections or section perspectives instead for example? Or, is the statement saying that if it is a drawing then it must be an elevation?

The views can be any form, including renders, elevations, or diagrams. Whatever works best to explain your vision.


Copyrights for Re-Ball! project submissions shall remain the property of the author(s).

Materials for the Re-Ball! competition should not be released nor exposed to the public, the press, or in any forum before the announcement of a winning entry or the cancelation of the competition. Entrants who violate this rule will be disqualified.

Participants agree to permit the Dupont Underground to use materials submitted to the Re-Ball! competition in public posts, publications, or exhibitions, or for archival, promotional, educational, and other purposes at its discretion. The Dupont Underground reserves the right to cancel or suspend the competition for any reason.

The Dupont Underground assumes no responsibility for e-mail, electronic, or technical conditions that prevent the receipt or judging of a submission.

The Dupont Underground reserves the right to amend these guidelines at any time, without notice.

No information contained in Re-Ball! submissions shall be deemed confidential, and such information may be shared with local or federal governmental entities. Therefore, please do not submit any information that may be deemed proprietary in nature. The Dupont Underground shall not be liable for any costs incurred by any competition entrant in the preparation, submittal, presentation, or revision of their submission. The Dupont Underground shall not be obligated to pay and shall not pay any costs in connection with the preparation of such submissions.