World Expos have long been important in advancing architectural innovation and discourse. Many of our most beloved monuments were designed and constructed specifically for world’s fairs, only to remain as iconic fixtures in the cities that host them. But what is it about Expos that seem to create such lasting architectural landmarks, and is this still the case today? Throughout history, each new Expo offered architects an opportunity to present radical ideas and use these events as a creative laboratory for testing bold innovations in design and building technology. World’s fairs inevitably encourage competition, with every country striving to put their best foot forward at almost any cost. This carte blanche of sorts allows architects to eschew many of the programmatic constraints of everyday commissions and concentrate on expressing ideas in their purest form. Many masterworks such as Mies van der Rohe’s German Pavilion (better known as the Barcelona Pavilion) for the 1929 Barcelona International Exposition are so wholeheartedly devoted to their conceptual approach that they could only be possible in the context of an Exposition pavilion.
To celebrate the opening of Expo Milano 2015 tomorrow, we’ve rounded up a few of history’s most noteworthy World Expositions to take a closer look at their impact on architectural development.
Architects: Robert Edson Swain Architecture + Design
Location: Seattle, WA, USA
Area: 1125.0 ft2
Photographs: Ken Gutmaker , Courtesy of Robert Edson Swain Architecture + Design
The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation Unveils Janet Echelman’s Latest Work: “Impatient Optimist” in Seattle
A new aerial sculpture by renowned artist Janet Echelman has been installed at the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation campus in Seattle. Entitled “Impatient Optimist,” the sculpture consists of a custom net structure suspended above the courtyard, resulting in an ethereal floating surface which seems to defy gravity. The award-winning artist’s piece hovers above the city as a symbol of connectivity and stands as a testament to the impact an individual can have on a broader scale.
Downtown Seattle was transformed into a playground for people of all ages in September with Pop-Up! Street Furniture, an creative take on interactivity in the built environment. Eight movable modules combine to create endless configurations capable of forming either seating or play space for a dozen people. The project was realized by Seattle-based LMN Architects, leading an inter-disciplinary team of students, professionals, designers, manufacturers, and contractors, intent on stimulating ordinary streets in the city’s downtown core. Created for the Seattle Design Festival, the project created a temporary hub for conversation, play, and engagement.
Read more after the break on the many uses of Pop-Up! Street Furniture in Seattle
Seattle based firm goCstudio have designed a wood-fired floating sauna, a project resonant with the culture of the Pacific Northwest. Aiming to begin construction in spring of 2015 and open in summer, the firm has recently launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund the building of their first model. Easily transportable and accessible by kayak, the floating sauna fits within the dimensions of a standard size trailer. Providing a space of refuge and revitalization, along with a uniquely interactive way to experience the landscape of Seattle, the project, named “wa_sauna“, requires $43,000 to become a reality. Learn more about the project and how you can help at the firm’s Kickstarter page, here. More images after the break.
Brooks + Scarpa has won a competition to design a new park-and-ride plaza for the future Angle Lake light rail station in Seattle. As part of the 1.6-mile South 200th Link Extension, which will connect Angle Lake to the airport and downtown area by 2016, the $30 million complex will provide the station’s anticipated 5,400 passengers with a pedestrianized plaza, drop-off and retail area, as well as a 1,050-stall parking garage and 35,000 square feet of reserved space for future transit-oriented development.