A Birthday Balloon for MIT

Kyle Barker MIT Inflatable

Kyle Barker MIT Inflatable

Kyle Barker MIT Inflatable

Last month, MIT celebrated their 150-year long “culture of creativity and invention.” All kind of projects and/or installations popped up around campus for the sesquicentennial celebration– Fast Light– and the birthday party was not without balloons! Specifically, dodecahedral balloons fabricated and installed by a small team of graduate architecture students that happens to include one of my BFFs 4-EVER. Kyle Barker. Although it wasn’t our mutual love of architectural balloons, but our mutual love of post-exercise junk food that initially tied us in friendship.

The short life of this project keeps with the ephemeral nature of the balloons, celebrations, installations or any bag of gas. The geometry of the dodecahedron (an homage to Buckminster Fuller) undergoes a strange transformation from something normally rigid and structural to something malleable, mylar and turgid. At least the installation started off turgid but inevitably started to sag and lose buoyancy over the course of its brief life. The shape was large, some twenty feet in diameter, stretching taller as the helium pulled upward into the atrium, while the mylar migrated with even the faintest wind as far as its tethers would allow.

Kyle worked alongside Moe AmayaJuan Jofre, and Nick Polansky for this installation. The photos are by Claire Shafer and George Lin.

With such smart birthday balloons, where’s the cake?


June 14, 2011