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A Pavilion for the World
Design competition embodies World's Fair with temporary pavilion.
Pavilion proposal from Echomaterico.
Courtesy Echomaterico

On January 13, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri announced the five teams shortlisted for its Pavilion Project, a design competition in conjunction with its special exhibition Inventing the Modern World: Decorative Arts at the World's Fairs, 1851-1939. The competition, launched on November 23, asked teams to design and then build a temporary pavilion on-site by April 9, 2012. After renting a Ferris Wheel for the length of the exhibit proved cost prohibitive, the museum decided to develop their own pavilion, which will be used for flexible programming and events. Catherine Futter, the curator of the special exhibition, said, "We really wanted something that showcased innovation today in the spirit of the World's Fairs."

Proposed pavilions by AECOM (left), Hufft Projects (center), el dorado inc with Make + Design (right).
Courtesy AECOM, Hufft Projects, el dorado inc

The five shortlisted teams include AECOM, el dorado inc with MAKE + DESIGN (Kansas State University), Echomaterico, Generator Studio, and Hufft Projects. An in-house jury reviewed 15 entries before deciding on the final five, but the winner will be selected by the Director of the Nelson-Atkins Museum, Julian Zugazagoita, the exhibition curator, Catherine Futter, architect Steven Holl, and a still unnamed person from the Kansas City Missouri Parks and Recreation Department. The pavilion will be located in the front yard of the museum along Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard, in the foreground of the 2008 expansion of the museum designed by Steven Holl.

Time was not the only constraint in the competition. Teams were given a total design and materials budget of $20,000, required to provide their own power if needed, encouraged to use green materials, and prohibited from excavation on the site. At the end of the exhibition, which runs from April 14 to August 19, the teams must restore the site and ideally find a second home for the structure.

The exhibition will showcase decorative arts from every major World's Fair from 1851-1939. It includes 200 artistic and scientific objects, including such architectural gems as Alvar Aalto's Savoy Vase and Aalto Flower, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Barcelona Chair, and Marcel Breuer's Chaise Lounge No.313.

Said Futter, "We were very impressed with all of the entries from the local design community, and we are hopeful that this will turn into something the Museum will do more frequently." The finalists will continue to refine their ideas and provide a presentation to the museum's design committee before the winner is selected on February 1.

Gunnar Hand