IEEE-USA’s Hole in
1s and 0s Part of Cool Mini Golf Course
By Chris McManes
During the multiple heat waves
that have overcome Washington, D.C., this
summer, the National Building Museum has been
one of the coolest places in town. And not just
because of its air conditioning.
The Museum moved way up on the
coolness scale with its first miniature golf
course. The unique, 12-hole ensemble has been a
big hit, particularly with families and couples
looking for some cool fun.
“Interest from the public has
been fantastic,” Building Museum Curator Sarah
The exhibition opened on
Independence Day and runs through Labor Day. The
holes were created by some of the Washington
area’s top architects, construction firms, urban
planners and designers. More than 25,000 people
are expected to play.
See for yourself at
here for more information.
Unlike exhibits at most museums,
this one encourages active participation.
“Absolutely,” Leavitt said.
“Hole in 1s and 0s”
IEEE-USA is sponsoring the
second hole and partnered with GrizForm Design
Architects and Potomac Construction Services to
have the hole designed and built.
IEEE-USA staff met with Griz
Dwight and three members of his staff on 11 June
and it was agreed that the hole should represent
the inside of a mobile device, e.g., a
smartphone or tablet computer.
IEEE-USA Managing Director Chris
Brantley came up with the name, “Hole in 1s and
0s,” which calls to mind binary code, the
phenomenon that all functions of a computer are
governed by ones and zeroes.
“Bringing together the varied
influences of our team and sponsors, the design
of ‘Hole in 1s and 0s’ is a celebration of
technology and the inner workings of the
contemporary digital device,” GrizForm Design’s
Justin Ware said in an email. “From the exterior
it appears as a simple closed form; however,
once inhabited, it presents the inner workings
as a miniature golf hole to be experienced as an
intimate and personal experience.”
The inside walls of the design
represent circuit boards, and you have three
options for “sending your text,” “completing
your call” or “going online.” You can stay on
the green — which is actually gray — or you can
choose either of two side tracks to reach the
You can even use your putter
like a pool cue, you know, the way Chevy Chase
did in the classic 1980 movie “Caddyshack.” The
fewer strokes you take to sink your putt, the
faster your connection.
Raising Public Awareness of
IEEE-USA chose to participate
primarily because of the opportunity to help
raise public awareness of engineering,
particularly in IEEE’s fields of interest.
Media coverage has been excellent.
“Hole in 1s and 0s” was featured
on the Washington FOX 5 Morning News on 16 July.
IEEE-USA’s portion of the video begins at about
the 2:45 mark:
Engineering awareness can also
be advanced by those who use their mobile device
to scan a QR code on IEEE-USA’s hole. The code
links to a
Web site featuring things like engineering
schools, careers and lesson plans, as well as
how engineers use their creativity to solve
problems and shape the world in which we live.
FOX 5 reporter Holly Morris, who
knows much more about engineering than most
broadcast journalists, graduated from Duke
University with a degree in civil and
environmental engineering. She likes the concept
behind IEEE-USA’s hole.
“I think, first and foremost, to
say, ‘hey, you’re looking at the inside of your
iPhone or the inside of your iPad or your
MacBook or whatever it may be — your laptop
computer’ — that really makes it pertinent to
today, and I think that grabs kids right away
because we have these amazing devices that we
hold but we don’t necessarily understand how
they work, and so to get to see inside that —
life-size — I think is pretty fascinating,”
She continued by discussing the
hole’s interpretation of high-speed data
“And then to see how the flow of
information or the flow of making the connection
can happen in different ways and, depending on
which way you choose, determines how fast that
happens. So how fast my call goes through, how
fast my Web search comes through, it makes it
tangible for a young person, and it makes it
visual for a young person to kind of understand
not only the basics of it, but also the
complexity of it. Because it’s so simple on one
side but it’s so complex on the other.
“And so, to help start to make
that make sense to a young person is really a
From Vision to Reality
The miniature golf exhibit was
largely the brainchild of Cathy Crane Frankel,
the Building Museum’s vice president for
exhibitions and collections.
“Then she brought it up with
some senior staff folks and everybody got pretty
excited about it,” Leavitt said. “As far as I
know … the turnaround was really fast.”
Leavitt was charged with
researching mini golf’s history and searching
the Museum’s holdings for photos and objects
related to the game. On the neatest things she
came across was an old highway sign advertising
“Tom Thumb Golf,” a patented miniature golf
course that originated in the late 1920s on
Lookout Mountain in Chattanooga, Tenn.
Here are some of mini golf “Fun
Facts” Building Museum players can read between
Miniature golf can be traced
to the “Ladies Putting Club” in 1867 in St.
The first U.S. course was on
a private estate in Pinehurst, N.C., in
Chattanooga hosted the first
miniature golf tournament in 1930.
By 1931, the United States
had about 25,000 courses. That number has
dwindled to around 5,000 today.
George W. Bush and his wife
Laura’s first date in 1977 was a game of
Fun for Everyone
IEEE-USA’s hole has been well
received by players, who, upon completion of
their round, can vote for their favorite. One of
the most popular holes is STUDIOS Architecture’s
interpretation of Canal Park, a project they
designed and is now being constructed in
southeast Washington, D.C. A jury of design
experts will decide which hole wins “Best in
For all of FOX 5’s mini golf
segments, including one on Canal Park, go to
The mini golf exhibition has
been so successful, it might return next summer.
“We’re really happy, and I think
people have been happy to play here,” Leavitt
said. “I’ve walked through the course during the
day and everyone seems like they’re having fun.
Hopefully they’re thinking a little bit about
the built environment or about architecture and
design while they’re in there.
“Probably they’re mostly just
having fun, and that’s cool, too.”
Meet the Hole in 1s and 0s
Designer, Builder and Host
GrizForm Design Architects
of Washington, D.C., is an
award-winning architecture firm
specializing in hospitality
projects. They push the
boundaries of design and
approach each project without
preconceived ideas. GrizForm was
founded in 2003 with an
understanding of the
construction world, a belief in
good design and a desire to
improve our built environment.
Potomac Construction Services
of Bethesda, Md., is a
full-service general contracting
firm specializing in the
restaurant and retail market
sector. It combines its passion
for customer service and
knowledge and experience in the
industry to deliver exceptional
The National Building Museum,
located in Washington, D.C., is
America’s leading cultural
institution dedicated to
advancing the quality of the
built environment by educating
people about its impact on their
lives. Through its exhibitions,
educational programs, online
content and publications, the
Museum has become a vital forum
for the exchange of ideas and
information about the world
people build for themselves.
Chris McManes is IEEE-USA’s
public relations manager.
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