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Worlds Fair: The Latest Architecture and News

AD Classics: World's Columbian Exposition / Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted

16:30 - 9 October, 2018
AD Classics: World's Columbian Exposition / Daniel Burnham and Frederick Law Olmsted, Viewed from the far end of the Great Basin, the Administration Building looms over the court of honor and the surrounding great buildings of the fair. ImageCourtesy of Wikimedia user RillkeBot (Public Domain)
Viewed from the far end of the Great Basin, the Administration Building looms over the court of honor and the surrounding great buildings of the fair. ImageCourtesy of Wikimedia user RillkeBot (Public Domain)

The United States had made an admirable showing for itself at the very first World’s Fair, the Crystal Palace Exhibition, held in the United Kingdom in 1851. British newspapers were unreserved in their praise, declaring America’s displayed inventions to be more ingenious and useful than any others at the Fair; the Liverpool Times asserted “no longer to be ridiculed, much less despised.” Unlike various European governments, which spent lavishly on their national displays in the exhibitions that followed, the US Congress was hesitant to contribute funds, forcing exhibitors to rely on individuals for support. Interest in international exhibitions fell during the nation’s bloody Civil War; things recovered quickly enough in the wake of the conflict, however, that the country could host the Philadelphia Centennial Exhibition in 1876. Celebrating both American patriotism and technological progress, the Centennial Exhibition was a resounding success which set the stage for another great American fair: the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893.[1]

Courtesy of Wikimedia user RillkeBot (Public Domain) Although the building itself was handsome, the exhibits of the United States Government Building failed to entice many of the fair’s visitors. In the foreground stands the Ho-O-Den, a replica medieval Japanese palace. ImageCourtesy of Wikimedia user RillkeBot (Public Domain) Courtesy of Wikimedia user scewing (Public Domain A map of the 1893 Exposition shows how much of the fair’s buildings were laid out on axis with the court of honor. ImageCourtesy of Wikimedia user scewing (Public Domain) + 16

LBC-LA Collaborative Student Competition

19:30 - 27 June, 2017
LBC-LA Collaborative Student Competition, LBC-LA Student Competition 2017
LBC-LA Student Competition 2017

“Imagine a building designed and constructed to function as elegantly and efficiently as a flower: a building informed by its bioregion’s characteristics, and that generates all of its own energy with renewable resources, captures and treats all of its water, and operates efficiently and for maximum beauty.” Los Angeles World’s Fair (LAWF) is a social purpose company that aims to bring the World’s Fair to Los Angeles in 2022.

AD Classics: Trylon and Perisphere / Harrison and Fouilhoux

04:00 - 11 December, 2016
AD Classics: Trylon and Perisphere / Harrison and Fouilhoux, Courtesy of Flickr user Richard under CC BY 2.0
Courtesy of Flickr user Richard under CC BY 2.0

With the onset of the Great Depression in the 1930s, the great World’s Fairs that had been held around the globe since the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851 lost much of their momentum. With the specter of another global conflict looming like a stormcloud on the horizon in the latter half of the decade, prospects for the future only grew darker. It was in this air of uncertainty and fear that the gleaming white Trylon and Perisphere of the 1939 New York World’s Fair made their debuts, the centerpiece of an exhibition that presented a vision of hope for things to come.

Image via MetMuseum.org (Public Domain) A quarter section of the Perisphere reveals its steel skeletal structure. ImageImage via nyworldsfaircollections.tumblr.com (Public Domain) Image via nyworldsfaircollections.tumblr.com (Public Domain) The Helicline connected the Trylon and Perisphere and allowed visitors to make their way back to the ground from six stories up + 8

AD Classics: Space Needle / John Graham & Company

04:00 - 7 December, 2016
Courtesy of Wikimedia user Rattlhed (Public Domain)
Courtesy of Wikimedia user Rattlhed (Public Domain)

The opening of the Century 21 Exposition on April 21, 1962 transformed the image of Seattle and the American Northwest in the eyes of the world. The region, which had been known until that point more for its natural resources than as a cultural capital, established a new reputation as a center of emergent technologies and aerospace design. This new identity was embodied by the centerpiece of the exposition: the Space Needle, a slender assemblage of steel and reinforced concrete which became—and remains—Seattle’s most iconic landmark.[1]

The Space Needle under construction before its opening in April 1962. ImageCourtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives (Public Domain) Courtesy of Wikimedia user Cacophony (Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0) A 1962 cutaway drawing of the Space Needle's tophouse. ImageCourtesy of Flickr user James Vaughan (CC BY-NC-SA 2.0) This sketched rendering of the Space Needle dates to April 1961 – one year before its opening. ImageCourtesy of Seattle Municipal Archives (Public Domain) + 7

AD Classics: Eiffel Tower / Gustave Eiffel

06:15 - 2 December, 2016
AD Classics: Eiffel Tower / Gustave Eiffel, © Wikimedia user Jebulon (Public Domain)
© Wikimedia user Jebulon (Public Domain)

The world had never seen anything like the graceful iron form that rose from Paris’ Champ de Mars in the late 1880s. The “Eiffel Tower,” built as a temporary installation for the Exposition Universelle de 1889, became an immediate sensation for its unprecedented appearance and extraordinary height. It has long outlasted its intended lifespan and become not only one of Paris’ most popular landmarks, but one of the most recognizable structures in human history.

AD Classics: Eiffel Tower / Gustave Eiffel Public Domain. ImageAugust 211888 Public Domain. ImageDecember 7 1887 AD Classics: Eiffel Tower / Gustave Eiffel + 11

AD Classics: Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes

04:00 - 19 August, 2016
AD Classics: Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes, The Exposition’s poster, designed by Robert Bonfils. ImageCourtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum
The Exposition’s poster, designed by Robert Bonfils. ImageCourtesy of the Victoria and Albert Museum

The end of the First World War did not mark the end of struggle in Europe. France, as the primary location of the conflict’s Western Front, suffered heavy losses in both manpower and industrial productivity; the resulting economic instability would plague the country well into the 1920s.[1] It was in the midst of these uncertain times that the French would signal their intention to look not to their recent troubled past, but to a brighter and more optimistic future. This signal came in the form of the Exposition Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes (International Exposition of Decorative Arts and Modern Industries) of 1925 – a landmark exhibition which both gave rise to a new international style and, ultimately, provided its name: Art Deco.

Courtesy of Wikimedia user François GOGLINS (Public Domain) Courtesy of Wikimedia user François GOGLINS (Public Domain) Horta’s Belgian Pavilion was a radical departure from his typically curvilinear Art Nouveau style. ImageCourtesy of Wikimedia user François GOGLINS (Public Domain) Courtesy of Wikimedia user François GOGLINS (Public Domain) + 14

AD Classics: Nordic Pavilion at Expo '70 / Sverre Fehn

04:00 - 22 March, 2016
AD Classics: Nordic Pavilion at Expo '70 / Sverre Fehn, Courtesy of Norwegian National Museum
Courtesy of Norwegian National Museum

Though architectural history is replete with bricks, stones, and steel, there is no rule that states that architecture must be ‘solid’. Sverre Fehn, one of the most prominent architects of postwar Norway, regularly made use of heavy materials like concrete and stone masonry in his projects [1]. In this way, his proposal for the Nordic Pavilion at the Osaka World Expo in 1970 could be seen as an atypical exploration of a more delicate structure. Representing a very different aspect of ‘Modernity’ than his usual work, Fehn’s “breathing balloon” pavilion stands not only in contradiction to Fehn’s design canon, but to that of traditional architecture as a whole.

Courtesy of Norwegian National Museum Courtesy of Norwegian National Museum Courtesy of Norwegian National Museum Courtesy of Norwegian National Museum + 10

Call for Submissions: New York State Pavilion Ideas Competition

16:00 - 21 March, 2016
Call for Submissions:  New York State Pavilion Ideas Competition

How do you reinvent an architectural icon for the 21st century? How can you inspire people to see potential in a structure that has been off limits for decades? And how do you activate a public space in a way that is sustainable for future generations? The National Trust and People for the Pavilion invite you to do just that by envisioning a bold and optimistic future for the New York State Pavilion.

Olson Kundig Architects Reinvents Site of Expo '74 World's Fair for 40th Anniversary

01:00 - 1 September, 2014
Olson Kundig Architects Reinvents Site of Expo '74 World's Fair for 40th Anniversary, Concept design for reuse of U.S. Federal Pavilion. Image © Olson Kundig Architects
Concept design for reuse of U.S. Federal Pavilion. Image © Olson Kundig Architects

Forty years ago, the Expo '74 World's Fair opened in Spokane, Washington to great fanfare as the world's first environmentally themed Expo. Perhaps equally as momentous, the former Soviet Union participated for the first time since World War II, and 5.6 million people attended throughout the course of the six month long Fair. This year, Olson Kundig Architects, led by design principal Tom Kundig, partnered with the City of Spokane to reinvent the original park with new concept designs for its structures, program, and facilities.

Concept design for Air Pavilion on Canada Island, night rendering. Image © Olson Kundig Architects Concept design for Water Pavilion. Image © Olson Kundig Architects Concept design for Earth Pavilion. Image © Olson Kundig Architects Concept design for Air Pavilion on Canada Island, day rendering. Image © Olson Kundig Architects + 6

The World’s Fair New York State Pavilion to Be Digitally Preserved

00:00 - 25 May, 2014
The World’s Fair New York State Pavilion to Be Digitally Preserved, CyArk And The University Of Central Florida Plan To Digitally Preserve The 1964 World’s Fair New York State Pavilion. Image © Marco Catini
CyArk And The University Of Central Florida Plan To Digitally Preserve The 1964 World’s Fair New York State Pavilion. Image © Marco Catini

If you haven't heard of CyArk yet, make sure to check out their recent Kickstarter project. The not-for-profit company digitally preserves some of the world's most important sites: including Easter Island, Mt. Rushmore and The Pantheon, to name a few. Now the group is headed to New York to preserve Philip Johnson and Lev Zetlin's 1964 World’s Fair New York State Pavilion. Since the fair ended, the pavilion has fallen into disrepair and been heavily vandalized. With assistance from the University of Central Florida, they plan to release the digitally preserved 3D files to the public, for free. To help preserve this "National Treasure," check out their Kickstarter page.