News / Art

A sprawling, beach-themed ball pit is coming to Navy Pier in January

The Beach Navy Pier
Photograph: Noah Kalina

Most of us haven't jumped into a ball pit since the days of the McDonald's PlayPlace, but a new art installation at Navy Pier will give you the chance to relive the feeling of being surrounded by plastic orbs. In January, the Aon Grand Ballroom will host The Beach Chicago, an 18,000-square-foot experience that features an ocean made up of more than 1.1 million recyclable antimicrobial plastic balls.

The Beach Chicago was conceived by New York-based design studio Snarkitecture, which debuted the installation at the National Building Museum in Washington, D.C., before taking in on the road to Tampa, Sydney, Paris and Bangkok. The stark white environment is meant to evoke the trappings of a day at the beach, complete with lounger chairs, umbrellas and a pier that extends into the sea of plastic balls. The Chicago activation was announced at this year's edition of EXPO Chicago, where attendees could jump into a tub filled with the translucent spheres.

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). It might not be as relaxing as an actual island vacation, but The Beach Chicago should provide a bit of an escape during the city's chilliest season.

The Beach

Photograph: Courtesy Snarkitecture

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