Friday, February 26, 2016

1964 World's Fair Pavilion--A Challenge to On the Brink Readers

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If you love mid century architecture and design as much as I do, you'll be glad to know that there is a group working hard to find a new purpose for the New York Pavilion, one of the last remaining structures left from the 1964 World's Fair that was held in Queens. I learned about this from a 2014 episode of my latest favorite podcast, The Bowery Boys New York History Podcast.

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The rebirth is in part the brainchild of local New York teacher and architecture aficionado Matthew Silva who is making a film about the pavilion. Matthew is also the co-founder of People for the Pavilion, a group that is advocating for its preservation and repurposing. Many are looking to the successful Manhattan High Line for inspiration as to how to rethink the use of the pavilion.

If you are not familiar with the pavilion, you probably have seen it if you've flown out of LaGuardia Airport. It is a weird looking structure with nearby towers and is part of Flushing Meadows Corona Park near Citi Field (home of the Mets). When I first moved to New York, I thought they were old abandoned water towers that needed repair. No, they were just abandoned mid century architecture. You might have seen the pavilion in films as well such as The Wiz or Men in Black. When the World's Fair was in operation, the pavilion was a highlight. One could take glass elevators to the top of the towers and the pavilion featured a number of performances and even had a giant terrazzo map of the state. After the fair closed, it housed some concerts and a roller rink, but has been largely abandoned.
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I have a challenge for On the Brink readers. In March, the National Trust for Historic Preservation is starting an ideas contest for reimagining the site. You can read about it here and sign up for updates as to when the challenge goes live. What ideas do you have for reusing the structures? If you are a teacher, take this project to your classes and ask your students to come up with ideas on how the space could be reused. If you do a quick Internet search you can find lots of maps and images of the park and the pavilion that you can use for references for students.

It is an exciting time for Queens and this park and anyone in the world can make suggestions on its future. Congratulations to everyone involved in this effort for getting it such wide attention. The world premier of Silva's film, Modern Ruin, will take place in March at the Queens World Film Festival.

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