IEEE-USA in Action

IEEE-USA Wins Mini Golf Hole for Best Design at National Building Museum

By Chris McManes

When IEEE-USA President-Elect Marc Apter attended the National Building Museum’s miniature golf awards ceremony in early September, he had no idea the hole IEEE-USA sponsored was going to be honored for Best Design.

“Hole in 1s and 0s,” part of the museum’s 12-hole mini golf course, was designed to represent the inside of a mobile device, such as a smartphone or tablet computer. It was created by GrizForm Design Architects of Washington, and built by Potomac Construction Services of Bethesda, Md.

Apter accepted the award from Chase Rynd, National Building Museum president and executive director. The museum is dedicated to telling the stories of architecture, engineering and design.

Apter enjoyed the round he played during the summer, and thinks it was a great project for IEEE-USA to participate in. He was particularly enthused about “Hole in 1s and 0s.”

“I loved that playing our hole allowed imagination, not just skill,” he said.

To see WTTG FOX 5 TV coverage of the hole, go to (The IEEE-USA portion begins at the 2:45 mark).


For a feature story on “Hole in 1s and 0s,” see

A Resounding Success

Rynd said the mini golf exhibition, which ran from the Fourth of July through Labor Day, was a far greater success than he and museum staff anticipated. In a letter to sponsors, designers and builders, he cited these positive outcomes:

  • More than 27,000 people played a round.
  • The course received 325 media hits.
  • Mini golf was re-tweeted to a combined audience of more than 100,000 Twitter users, making it the museum’s most-posted event on social media ever.
  • More than half of museum visitors who came to play mini golf also visited their other exhibitions. Museum attendance for July and August was 98,204, and more than 200 people joined as new members.
  • The lines to play were often so long ” particularly on weekends ” that waiting times could be as much as two hours. On Labor Day, one family waited two hours and 14 minutes.

“Our generous sponsors were truly the starting point for this entire endeavor, and all of the designers and builders brought each of these holes to life,” Rynd said in his letter. “All of you made this show a winner, and your thoughtful support of the Museum is greatly appreciated.”

Positive Publicity for Engineering

Mini golf was such a success that a new course will be open at the museum next Memorial Day through Labor Day, and is expected to have 18 holes. IEEE-USA has already committed to taking part.

IEEE-USA chose to participate to help raise public awareness of engineering. A nearby description of the hole told museum visitors how its name calls to mind binary code, the phenomenon that all computer functions are governed by ones and zeroes. A QR code on the structure took players to, where they could find out more about engineering careers and schools, and how engineers create solutions and turn ideas into reality.

IEEE-USA was pleased with the media coverage the course received, and its hole was cited in many online and print clips.


“I think IEEE-USA leveraged its sponsorship exceptionally well,” said Laura Brower Hagood, the Building Museum’s director of corporate, foundation and association relations. “They really took advantage of this opportunity to generate positive visibility for their organization and engineering.”

Other Award Winners

A jury of four was asked to rate each hole on a scale of 1 to 5 in three categories: design, fun factor and playability.

  • “Canal Park,” designed, built and sponsored by STUDIOS Architecture, OLIN, 3Form, Alliance Lighting, and Interface, won the Best in Show award, having received the highest overall score.
  • Highest Fun Factor: “Piranesi’s Half Pipe”
  • Sponsor: Linder & Associates Event Architects
  • Designer and Builder: District Design
  • Most Playable: “Woods and Irons”
  • Sponsor: The JBG Companies
  • Designer: Landscape Architecture Bureau
  • Builder: Monarc Construction
  • “Confluence,” designed, built and sponsored by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, won the People’s Choice award. This award was based on players displaying their fondness for a specific hole through donations in the exhibition’s last gallery.
  • Online Favorite: “Ball on the Mall”
  • Sponsor: Frank and Georgine Anton
  • Designer and Builder: E/L Studio

The Best in Show judges were:

  • Meg Bartow, senior vice president, Ogilvy Washington, and member of the National Building Museum Board of Trustees
  • Dennis  Carmichael, principal, ParkerRodriguez, and fellow of the American Society of Landscape Architects
  • Robert Ivy, executive vice president and CEO of the American Institute of Architects
  • Tommy Wells, Washington, D.C., council member, Ward 6

    Chris McManes is IEEE-USA’s public relations manager.

Guest Contributor

IEEE-USA is an organizational unit of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, Inc. (IEEE), created in 1973 to support the career and public policy interests of IEEE’s U.S. members. IEEE-USA is primarily supported by an annual assessment paid by U.S. IEEE Members.

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