The Beach is Coming to Chicago!


In January, the Aon Grand Ballroom will host The Beach, an 18,000-square-foot experience that features an ocean made up of more than 1.1 million recyclable antimicrobial plastic balls. The Beach is an interactive installation from Snarkitecture produced by Navy Pier in partnership with EXPO CHICAGO that reimagines the familiar natural and cultural elements of a day at the beach, to create an unexpected and memorable experience for people of all ages. Visitors ascend a ramp before entering an all-white enclosure, where the floor descends towards the highlight of the experience – an ocean of over one million recyclable, antimicrobial plastic balls. A pier extends out into the ‘sea’, allowing people to stand in the center of the space and watch others, while an island invites exploration and discovery. Visual cues such as deck chairs, lifeguard chairs, umbrellas, and signage recall elements of the typical beach-going experience.

Initially commissioned in 2015 by the National Building Museum in Washington DC, The Beach has traveled to Tampa, Florida, courtesy of the Vinik Family Foundation; to Sydney for The Sydney Festival; to Paris in the Museum of Decorative Arts; and to Bangkok in the Central Embassy. Everyday materials, including scaffolding, paneling, and mirrors are used to allow for economical and sustainable re-installation of the project at venues around the world.

Thanks to a grant from the Chicago Free For All Fund, admission to The Beach Chicago is free. The installation opens on Saturday, January 19 and remain at Navy Pier for two weeks before closing on Sunday, February 3 (the hours of operation will be announced closer to the project's opening). Join me in escaping to a staycation at The Beach this winter! To learn more, visit Navy Pier’s website here.