The iconic trio of Observation Towers in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in eastern Queens is getting a long-overdue upgrade. Restoration work on the monolith structures at the New York State Pavilion has reportedly begun according to Untapped Cities. Built for the 1964 World’s Fair, it’s no secret that the Philip Johnson- and Richard Foster-designed project has suffered from serious neglect over the last several decades, but the push to restore it to its original glory is well underway. The Pavilion was added to the National Register of Historic Places in November 2009, and two years ago, the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation announced its plans to fully restore the small site, making it a safe, walkable and event-centric destination for New Yorkers and tourists once again. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz first dedicated $14.5 million towards the project in 2014, and then the New York City Council and the mayor put aside more funds, bringing the total to $24.1 million. While several smaller albeit major renovation efforts on other parts of the Pavilion have occurred since 2015, including repainting the old steel framework on the Tent of Tomorrow, the project to rehabilitate the three Observation Towers has been five years in the making and physical indicators are finally starting to show. Set to take place over the next one-and-a-half years, work will include repairing all the deteriorating concrete found on the three, semi-stacked structures, as well as transitioning the finish on the plaza level floor from its current terrazzo-style linoleum to a methacrylate coating that will last longer. The external stairway on Tower 3—the tallest at 226 feet—and the internal stairs on all three stacked structures will be reconstructed. In addition, the waning suspension cables on each tower will be replaced and the electrical and drainage infrastructure in the basement of the site will be replaced and revamped respectively. One of the most visible changes set to come to the New York State Pavilion includes the restoration of the architectural lighting both on the towers and on the circular Tent next door. Bright lights will shine down from the bottoms of the observation platforms and columns of all four structures, ensuring the Pavilion’s presence on the night skyline of Queens for years to come. Construction is expected to wrap up in March 2021.
Posts tagged with "New York State Pavilion":
The famous—and famously neglected—New York State Pavilion in Queens is poised for a major revamp. The city last week announced it is giving the pavilion, in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, a $14.25 million redesign. Originally conceived by Philip Johnson and Lev Zetlin for the 1964 World's Fair, the pavilion is a far cry from Johnson's Glass House but became a New York City icon nonetheless. Now, though, the National Register–listed item is largely abandoned, looming over other World's Fair infrastructure that has been successfully incorporated into the park.
“The scope of the project includes structural conservation work on the observation towers, waterproofing of the tower bases, improvements to the electrical infrastructure and architectural lighting of the observation towers and the Tent of Tomorrow,” a NYC Parks Department spokesperson told the Queens Chronicle. This is far from the first time Johnson's pavilion has made news. An ideas competition last year solicited proposals for a revamp that ranged from the practical to the fanciful, while in 2015, the pavilion's Tent of Tomorrow was painted American Cheese Yellow to match its original color scheme. The Parks Department has approved the schematic design, and Queens Community Board 7 signed off on the plans. Now, other city agencies are reviewing the project for approval.
The work, however, depends on a successful bid for the project. If all goes well, construction is scheduled to start next spring and wrap in fall 2019.
This is the sixth in a series of guests posts that feature Archtober Building of the Day tours! As it stands today, the New York State Pavilion looks like it belongs in outer space—a little out of place but powerful in its presence. Anyone new to town who is driving on the Long Island Expressway or riding the train to Citi Field probably doesn’t give much thought to the oddly shaped structure, its historic significance, or the fact that it sits in the largest park in the borough. But as a huge fan of old buildings, when I first saw it just over a year ago, I was curious to know what this carnivalesque piece of architecture was doing in the middle of—what felt like, at the time—nowhere. By now I’ve educated myself on Queens history and have finally taken a tour of the famous fairgrounds with a crowd of Archtober enthusiasts. My initial observations about it were close: The New York State Pavilion is reminiscent of a big top circus; it was built for the 1964-65 World’s Fair. Originally designed by renowned architect Philip Johnson, the Pavilion is one of the city’s most iconic midcentury relics and a defining feature of the Queens skyline. It can be seen from the window of a plane on its way to LaGuardia Airport or from the numerous highways that encircle Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. The Pavilion is a concrete and steel structure made up of three distinct parts: a theater, a 226-foot tower with three observation decks, and a 100-foot high, spiky, bright yellow, open-air elliptical ring. These constructions were once known as the Theaterama, the Astro-View Towers, and the Tent of Tomorrow. Today’s tour was led by five passionate members of the New York State Pavilion Project: Jim Brown, John Piro, Gary Miller, Mitch Silverstein, and Stephanie Bohn. Their grassroots effort is dedicated to restoring and repainting the structures, as well as bringing awareness towards the Pavilion’s future—an idea that’s received a lot of attention lately thanks to the support of Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. While these gatekeepers regularly host open houses at the Pavilion, today’s sneak peek inside the stately structure felt more intimate. As we stood inside the ring, clearly deteriorating due to weather overexposure, I felt a sense of energy inside the place. Though now empty, I could imagine over 50 million people flooding the fairground in the early 1960s. Some fellow tour-goers had actually been to the Fair themselves and could recall personal memories inside the Tent of Tomorrow, like walking over the giant Texaco map of New York State or staring up at the stained glass ceiling. The Pavilion even game me serious New York State pride, and I’m from Kentucky. According to our guides, Philip Johnson once said that he loved the Pavilion more as a stand-alone, derelict structure than when it was at the height of its heyday. And much like it was in 1964, the building is the main attraction. Based on today’s tour, the people who are dedicated to preserving this national treasure seem to feel the same. About the author: Sydney Franklin is a content producer at the NYC Department of Design and Construction. She recently graduated from Syracuse University with a master’s degree in architectural journalism.
Philip Johnson's New York State Pavilion, located in Queens, was once part of the 1964 Worlds Fair. Now it is the only remaining structure from the event. Years of neglect has seen the pavilion fall into a state of disrepair. However, all does not appear to be lost thanks to The National Trust for Historic Preservation, People for the Pavilion, and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz. Together, they have organized an ideas competition in an attempt to bring the pavilion back to life. The competition so far has received a number of submissions up for public vote. The current frontrunners are a hydroponic farm (essentially a farm that uses nutrient water instead of soil) and a flexible exhibition space. The former an ambitiously wants to demonstrate a process that could "feed cities into the next century" while the latter envisions an outdoor performance area and park. In recent memory, the pavilion's only claim to fame was its appearance in Iron Man 2 where it played host to the Stark Expo. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bchp8boR0Dc The pavilion's appearance on screen however, has done little to bolster its circumstances, although a fresh coat of paint was added in fall last year. The New York State Pavilion Ideas Competition now hopes to "spark a conversation about the value of historic preservation," citing Johnson's work as an "irreplaceable structure" that is one of Queens' "most significant assets." Submissions so far mostly depict colorful scenes that refer back to the pavilion's original red and yellow coloring. These include the "Queens Pavilion Cheeseburger Museum," "Trampoline Castle," "The Funland of art" (that promises to be "the most fun your kids will ever have"), and the "Pavilion for the People." Others proposals include an observatory, ice-rink, and planetarium. There are few constraints on putting forward an idea. Participants must be over the age of 13 and submit an original idea complete with an image. A Sketchup model of the pavilion has been made available to download to aid contributors. The competition is also free to enter. For now, the public has until July 1 to submit their ideas, with Deborah Berke, founding partner of Deborah Berke Partners and soon to be Dean of the Yale Architecture School and critic Paul Goldberger among others judging the submissions. The jury will select first, second and third place, of which will receive $3,000, $1,000 and $500. The voting system however, will be used to select a "fan favorite" with the winner taking home $500.
Until recently, the Tent of Tomorrow looked very yesterday. Part of the Philip Johnson–designed New York State Pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair has been restored to its original color, "American Cheese Yellow," earlier this month. New York City has allocated almost $8.9 million to shore up the tent, the pavilion, and other relics of the World's Fair in Queens' Flushing Meadows Corona Park (including the Unisphere). Designs for the structural reinforcement and preservation of the pavilion will be in by fall 2016, with construction to begin in 2017. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and preservation group People for the Pavilion, in partnership with the city, will begin soliciting ideas for design and programming in the space early next year. New Yorkers got a rare glimpse inside the relic at last week's Open House New York Weekend. Sixteen, 100-foot-tall columns support a 50,000-square-foot ceiling with colored clear panels. Three towers of 60 feet, 150 feet, and 226 feet—most recently famous as spaceships from the film Men in Black—stand adjacent to the tent. The shorter towers held cafeterias, while the tallest supported an observation deck. To fulfill apprenticeship requirements, 30 bridge painters from Painters DC 9 and the Painting Contractors Association worked for a combined 8,000 hours to bring the Tent of Tomorrow's steel diadem back to its original color. This phase of the project was done pro bono, with an estimated value of $3.25 million (really). The city estimates that the fresh paint will extend the life of the structure by about 15 years.
This Friday, catch the world premiere of "Modern Ruin" all about the New York State Pavilion from the 1964 World's Fair
World Premiere of Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion Friday, May 22nd, 2015 Cocktails 7:00–8:00p.m., Screening 8:00–9:30p.m. Queens Theatre, 14 United Nations Avenue South Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens Philip Johnson and Lev Zetlin's New York State Pavilion for the 1964 World's Fair in Queens' Flushing Meadows Corona Park should be more than an eyebrow raiser as those curious, disc-on-pole structures seen when driving to JFK airport. It was Munchkinland, the starting place for Dorothy's journey to Manhattan—correction, Oz—in the 1978 film The Wiz. It was an alien spacecraft tower in the original 1997 Men in Black which crashes into the nearby Unisphere. And it was the site of Tony Stark/Ironman's confrontation with his adversaries in Iron Man 2 on the grounds of Stark Expo 2010, a digitally updated 1964 World's Fair grounds (director Jon Favreau's childhood home overlooked the park). And it will appear in the new film Tomorrowland starring George Clooney that opens May 22. But the common current perception of what Ada Louise Huxtable called “sophisticated frivolity" when the buildings opened is one of dereliction, decay, and outmodedness. That is, except for a number of dedicated citizens called People for the Pavilion and architectural simpaticos, who rightly see this as a preservation issue. What results is a new documentary called Modern Ruin: A World's Fair Pavilion by Matthew Silva and executive produced by the makers of Modern Tide: Midcentury Architecture on Long Island (2014), Jake Gorst and Tracey Rennie Gorst, which will premiere the same day as Tomorrowland. The towers were a favorite of master-builder and fair impresario Robert Moses, who saw these structures as one of the few 1964 World's Fair buildings intended to live beyond the event. Paul Goldberger said it used "advanced engineering combined with a very exquisite sense of architectural composition, to make something that was both aesthetically and structurally quite beautiful and fully resolved." The pavilion consists of three components made of reinforced concrete and steel: the "Tent of Tomorrow," the Observation Towers, and the "Theaterama." The elliptical “Tent of Tomorrow” measured 350-feet by 250-feet with sixteen 100-foot-tall columns supporting a 50,000 square foot roof of multi-colored fiberglass panels—like a Rose window over a circus tent—once the largest cable suspension roof in the world. The Observation Towers are three concrete structures, the tallest at 226 feet high, with observation platforms once accessed by two "Sky Streak capsule" elevators. The adjacent “Theaterama” was originally a single drum-shaped volume of reinforced concrete where pop artworks by Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, Robert Indiana, and Ellsworth Kelly—plus art from local museums—were exhibited alongside a display from the New York State Power Authority featuring a 26-foot scale replica of the St. Lawrence hydroelectric plant. A 360-degree film about the wonders of New York State, from Jones Beach to Niagara Falls, was screened inside. Warhol’s specially-commissioned Thirteen Most Wanted Men series depicting criminals' mug shots straight on and in profile, displayed on the exterior had a fate reminiscent of Diego Rivera's censored murals at Rockefeller Center: Nelson Rockefeller had it covered over, here because too many Italian Americans were depicted as criminals. (In 2014, the complete series was displayed at the Queens Museum, just 200 yards from the New York State Pavilion.) The Theaterama was converted to the Queens Playhouse in 1972 and is now the Queens Theatre where Modern Ruin: A World's Fair Pavilion will be screened. Connecting the complex was a floor made of 4-foot-by-4-foot terrazzo panels that formed a map of New York State. In fact, it was a Texaco roadmap and was a great hit with people finding their home towns and navigating across the state. At the end of the fair, the floor was supposed to be moved to a building in Albany, but instead was left and became a roller rink—terrazzo is a great skating surface. The site was largely intact until the mid-1970s (the Grateful Dead and Led Zeppelin performed there), but its fate was part of New York City's downslide. The roller rink closed, the roof was taken out. Left open to the elements, the mapped floor was destroyed. Since that time, the complex has continued to deteriorate, but a handful of dedicated citizens have devoted themselves to resurrecting the space. Volunteers for the New York State Paint Project are sprucing up the tent with a fresh coat of paint. CREATE Architecture Planning and Design came up with an idea to make it into an Air & Space Museum—that plan went nowhere. In 2014, New York City government announced a pledge of $5.8 million towards rehab of the structure, and Governor Cuomo’s office pledged $127,000, but estimates for the complete rehabilitation have climbed to a staggering $75 million. The film is a loving portrait with intelligent interviews with Frank Sanchis (World Monuments Fund), Robert A.M. Stern, and Paul Goldberger laced among those who created, remember, and are saving the site.
After decaying for years, the New York State Pavilion from the 1964 World's Fair is getting some TLC. The New York Times reported that $5.8 million was allocated in New York City’s budget to stabilize the Philip Johnson–designed pavilion in Queens. A NYC Parks Department spokesperson told the Times that the exact use of the money has not yet been determined yet, but it will likely go toward electrical and structural work at the site’s iconic towers. The decaying Tent of Tomorrow will be getting some love as well. According to engineering studies from the Parks Department, it would cost an estimated $14 million to raze the pavilion, $43 million to stabilize it, and $52 million to restore the towers' elevators. Any attention to the park is a good sign, but considering the high cost of doing just about anything to the pavilion, this is a relatively small investment. But it is a start.