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Achievements of local honorees recognized at Dec. 8 gala

Acknowledging Washington, D.C.’s accelerating creative cultural economy, Washington Business Journal gave the Dupont Underground (DU) a high five at their annual CEO of the Year Awards on Dec. 8, a black tie gala held at the Watergate Hotel.

After years of anticipation, the Arts Coalition for Dupont Underground reopened the abandoned streetcar station beneath Dupont Circle on April 30, 2016. Their first event, “Re-Ball: Raise/Raze,” transformed the east platform of the underground station into an immersive environment composed of hundreds of thousands of “ball pit” balls repurposed from the National Building Museum’s popular 2015 Beach installation. Raise/Raze was composed of building blocks made from the balls, that were reconfigurable by visitors as they passed through the space. The Washington Post called the installation “a playground for democracy.” “Since this is D.C., we definitely saw [the exhibit] as a democratic form of sculptural communication,” installation designer Josh de Sousa explained to the Post.

The art installation drew an audience of thousands, selling out the entire month-long run of the exhibition in twenty-four hours. Re-Ball: Raise-Raze demonstrated the DU’s creative potential and ability to bring alternative cultural and artistic programming to Washington D.C.

Re-Ball! was Dupont Underground’s international design competition that called on artists and designers to repurpose 650,000 ball-pit balls from the National Building Museum’s Beach installation. Raise/Raze – by New York design studio Hou de Souza won the competition from a field of over one hundred entries from nineteen different countries.

To create Raise/Raze more than 1400 enthusiastic volunteers worked in shifts over six weeks to assemble the ball-pit balls into cubes that were then used to create the re-configurable temporary structures and environments within the Dupont Underground. The installation attracted international recognition from the design and lay press.

“We are deeply appreciative of the nod from D.C.’s business community at this critical initial stage in Dupont Underground’s development.” DU board chair Lauren Victor stated. “Dupont Underground is excited about identifying ways to engage the city’s residents, and businesses as well as national and global reach in what we do in 2017.”

In 2017 the Dupont Underground will continue its cultural production with two initiatives, the Dupont Underground Workspace Residency Program (DUWR), and the Dupont Underground Sessions presented by Blue Microphones.

The Dupont Underground Workspace Residency Program provides selected artists the opportunity to work in our unique, centrally located space in the United States capital city and create a discrete project or add to a body of work that reveals new ways of looking at and understanding our world. Each residency will end with a month-long exhibition of the work created over the term.

Also for 2017, the Dupont Underground has partnered with Blue Microphones to foster the development of our live music series the Dupont Underground Sessions. Since April, we have been recording musicians of diverse genres attracted to our space to experiment in its unique acoustic environment. Blue Microphones – a California-based audio production company that specializes in the design of premium recording equipment – was excited by the opportunity to help us develop our recording program. Blue is the official microphone and headphone of our live sessions.

As a 2016 nonprofit of the year, the DU is proud to share the stage with Mi Casa, the Humane Rescue Alliance and Local Initiatives Support Corporation, and also with awardees in the categories of mergers and acquisitions, marketing campaigns, venturing funding rounds, and individuals nominated for “CEO of the year” and “lifetime achievement.” Information about awardees can be found here.