D.C. is filled with architecturally interesting public spaces. To get an idea of how people are using these spaces, Curbed writers are spending twenty minutes in a given location and taking note. Want to nominate a place for this series? Hit up our tipline. Here's what happened between 4:20-4:40 p.m. today at the National Gallery of Art Sculpture Garden's Seasonal Ice Rink.
4:20 p.m. A couple walks into the garden hand in hand. Off to the left, two guys in their twenties (or thirties) are giggling hysterically. It seems that one of them is trying his best to attach a flexible tripod (and attached camera) to the thin little branches on the sculpture garden bushes. Meanwhile, the other holds two Starbucks cups in front of the red and yellow sculpture that says "AMOR." Good luck with that one, guys.
4:21 p.m. - A girl who looks like she's about eight years old passes by with her family. She looks at the sculputre. "Aa-mor?" she says, with the "a" sound rhyhiming with "at." "What's Aa-mor?"
4:22 p.m. - The gentleman trying fruitlessly to affix the tripod to a bush has found an adjoining bush with thicker branches. The tripod appears to stick to this one but upon looking at the results, both gentlemen laugh. They opt for a good old-fashioned selfie in front of the sculpture.
4:23 p.m. - Walking toward the rink, it's possible to hear kind of terrified and young sounding screams from the rink. There look to be roughly forty or fifty people on the ice and most of them are families. Two older teens laugh and hold hands as they move at a snail's pace, but the overarching sound is the intermittent terrified shrieks accompanying the soothing sounds of Kenny Loggins.*
4:25 p.m. - Hey, it's possible to see the Liechtenstein sculpture in front of the Hirshhorn from the northernmost side of the rink.
4:26 p.m. - A young adult encourages a girl in a white coat and a tiger hat. "You can do it! That's it," she says. The girl in the tiger hat eases her way along the bar, making sure to keep both hands on it.
4:27 p.m. - A young teen screeches and falls. That was the most graceful fall to the knees ever!
4:28 p.m. - The rink has a string of white Christmas lights overtop and two makeshift buildings on the east and west side that look like small Christmas train cars. Small evergreens in planters sit next to the makeshift buildings and marble benches with curved tops surround the rink. On the north end, the benches are empty.
4:29 p.m. - Upon closer inspection, the bench to the left of the entrance is extraordinarily muddy and covered in boot prints. It's probably a good bet that several people have been standing on the bench to take photos. Well, time to become part of the problem.
4:30 p.m. - There's a marble ledge in front of the walkway that circles the rink. One guy standing on it talks to his girlfriend as she asks him if he saw her attempt to skate backwards.
4:31 p.m. - Further to the right several people stand on the marble ledge. Why this beats sitting on the benches, who knows?
4:33 p.m. - The green building on the left is a makeshift ticket booth and skate rental facility. To the left of that is the National Gallery of Art's snack pavilion. The green metal spokes curve up and resemble trees around the doors as if forming an oasis in this increasingly cold sculpture garden. Suddenly wondering whether this was the best location to spend twenty minutes and seriously considering a hot chocolate.
4:36 p.m. - A voice comes over the PA announcing that the credit card machine is down and that they are only accepting cash. The voice over the PA tells the crowd (which is going down the ramp at the ticket booth) that there's an ATM one block away and due to the inconvenience, the skate rental will be free.
4:37 p.m. - After repeating the announcement a couple of times, the voice announces, "Happy New Year. There's only 1 day and 8 hours left." Eh, close enough.
4:38 p.m. - Some four year old boys have found a new use for the marble benches. C'mon, everyone knows marble benches are made for running!
4:40 p.m. - Upon exiting the garden, a father with two nine or ten year old girls passes by with a bag and hockey skates. They are prepared!
*Kenny Loggins actually does have a soothing children's album and we're aware of this, but "Footloose" was playing over the PA.