Thanks to a donation of more than $1 million from Bloomberg LP, the Diller Scofidio + Renfro-designed pavilion, expected in 2013, will bear the company’s name. Though the project had informally been called ”The Bubble” ever since it was announced in 2009, the word “balloon” was swapped in to avoid the negative jokes about finance and bubbles.
The Bloomberg Balloon will protrude from the top of the cylindrical museum like a mushroom, and will house space for performance and lectures. When the project was announced, Post art critic Blake Gopnik expressed concern that the expansion would detract from the art. “Will the Hirshhorn's new structure send out those kind of art-first vibes? Or will it make such a big impact, each time it gets blown up, that it becomes more of a distraction than anything else?” Gopnik asked.
But if the Hirshhorn’s most recent launch of an architectural public art project is any indication, the Bloomberg Balloon will bring people to the museum to contemplate architecture’s role as art. Doug Aitken’s ”SONG 1,” which projected a film on the entire 360-degree exterior of the museum to create “liquid architecture,” debuted Thursday night to a crowd of enthralled visitors, who sat around the perimeter of the museum to watch the Gordon Bunshaft’s 1974 building host one of the most marvelous screens D.C. has ever seen.