Imagine the New York Pavilion, once a stunning centerpiece of the 1964 World’s Fair, as something new. Imagine it as an enclosed garden, a performance space, a play area, or an art studio.
There’s hope, creativity and possibility for the now-deteriorating concrete structure in more than 250 designs submitted in a competition by People for the Pavilion and the National Trust for Historic Preservation. But there are no plans to make that hope a reality. That’s a shame. NYC should do better.
The Pavilion, built more than 50 years ago, consists of the Tent of Tomorrow and three observation towers. The iconic tent’s structure was known for its suspended cable roof, then the largest in the world, and its terrazzo floor with an enormous map of the state.
The roof is gone, and the floor was ruined by time and weather. The one-time symbol of the future now shows our lack of attention to the past. How easy it is to let our icons slip away. Last year’s fresh coat of paint added some color, but didn’t go far enough.
Ideas are plentiful. The Seattle architects who designed Hanging Meadows, the design competition’s winner, suggested a suspended glass-enclosed natural garden, with a planetarium and classrooms. The second- place entry included an events and festivals space. Others added restaurants to the towers, or made the tent sustainable through solar panels and gathered rainwater. Children created crayon drawings of museums and dance spaces.
The problem, unsurprisingly, comes down to money. NYC’s Department of Parks & Recreation estimates $52 million as a general price tag. City officials say they’ve put aside $12.9 million.
But there are other solutions. A public-private partnership could be a start. There could be a foundation that could fundraise for the remaking of the Pavilion.
Turn a symbol of the past into a possibility for the future.