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closeup of Yucca Crater at night

An earthwork
you can
swim in.

USA Deputy Director of Communications & Marketing

Last fall, Ball-Nogues Studio, a young design and fabrication firm working at the intersection of public art with architecture and industrial design, installed Yucca Crater at Joshua Tree National Park. Yucca Crater is a 30 foot man-made earthwork and participatory installation. During opening weekend, it was also a swimming pool; visitors were invited to climb the exterior ladders and jump into 8 feet of water (a nod to the abandoned urban pools found throughout the desert).

This platform appealed to us because it allowed us to be in control of the timeline for funding. We were able to raise over $15,000 on USA Projects. In traditional funding sources, the timeline is prescribed by the organization giving money, which sometimes doesn’t work with your project’s timeline. This allowed us to be flexible in our approach. It creates hope for projects that might not get through the barrier.


Why did you and Gaston decide to use USA Projects to raise funds for Yucca Crater?

Gaston and I develop our process during the actual process, so it can be often challenging to create proposals for funding when the project hasn’t been completely worked out yet. Instead, this was a different approach, one based on popular discretion instead of a committee with an organizational mandate.


What do you mean by “flexible approach”?


Yucca Crater questions the notion of ownership in design. It was only meant to last for a weekend. It was as much of a performance as an object of design—it was a happening. We accept the deterioration and decay. Yucca Crater will disintegrate into the landscape like one of the homestead shacks that dot the Mojave Desert.


What was the concept behind Yucca Crater?

All photos © Ball-Nogues Studio

Actually, we were a little surprised that people came out to see it. Joshua Tree National Park is this beautiful barren park, miles from civilization, and people opted to go see this man-made thing. People have a tendency to indulge in things that are safe, that are man-made, instead of confronting the chaos of nature.


Why did you build it in the desert?