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Design, The Design Process, and Design Education 

First Floor: G Street Side

Welcome to the Building Zone, a hands-on introduction to the building arts designed especially for the Museum’s youngest visitors, ages 2–6.
In this exploratory gallery, children can:

  • Build a tower or brick wall.
  • Curl up with an architecture picture book in the Book Nook.
  • Drive bulldozers and other construction play trucks in the Construction Zone.
  • Imagine being a craftsperson complete with a hard hat, tool belt, and goggles.
  • Explore the National Building Museum's Project Playhouse, a life-size custom built "green" house sponsored by HomeAid and built by Pardee Homes.

Just as a building's foundation lays the groundwork for a structure, child-initiated play lays a foundation for learning. Through imaginative play, children learn to interact with others, to recognize and solve problems, and to gain confidence. Play helps children make sense of their physical and social worlds and their place within them. We invite our youngest visitors and their families to enjoy this space as they explore the world we build for ourselves.

Hours & Admission

Building Zone hours:  10 am–4 pm, Monday through Saturday, and 11 am–4 pm on Sundays

Families interested in visiting the Building Zone only may purchase a $3 ticket per person ages 3 and up. As with the Museum's other exhibitions, the Building Zone is FREE for members. Otherwise, Building Zone entry is included in the admission ticket for all Museum exhibitions ($7 per child, $10 per adult). Admission to the Building Zone includes 45 minutes of play time. Building Zone play times start at 15 minutes after the hour and run to the top of the hour. Last entry is 3:15 pm. Find more Hours & Admission information.

Book of the Month Club

On the first Tuesday of each month, the Museum will introduce a new book during a read-aloud in the Building Zone's Book Nook. The books explore themes such as patterns, city planning, construction, and celebration of other cultures. Families will then be invited to participate in corresponding hands-on play activities in the Building Zone. Learn more about the Book of the Month club.

Toy of the Month: Chatter Phone

Toy of the Month
Fisher Price introduced the "Chatter Phone" in 1962 and it has remained one of its most popular toys since—even though most people don't use this kind of phone anymore.

Photo by Kevin Allen Photography

Please remember:

  • This gallery is designed for children ages 2 to 6.
  • Admission to the Building Zone includes 45 minutes of play time. Tickets are available on-site only, and are sold on a first-come, first-served basis. Tickets may sell out in advance.
  • An adult must accompany children at all times.
  • No food or drink is permitted in the gallery.
  • Maximum capacity is 40 visitors.
  • Photography is permitted.

Special Note for Groups: the Building Zone is designed for family visitors. The Museum reserves the right to ask groups of 10 visitors or more to split into smaller groups when visiting the exhibition. Peak visitation hours are 10 am–Noon.


The National Building Museum gratefully acknowledges The Morris and Gwendolyn Cafritz Foundation for its support of the Building Zone.