With funding and plans, revamp of Philip Johnson’s New York State Pavilion moves slowly forward

Posted On Mon, July 2, 2018 By

Posted On Mon, July 2, 2018 By In Architecture, Flushing

Image: NYC Design Awards.

Designed by starchitect Philip Johnson for the 1964-65 World’s Fair to embody the architectural essence of Space Age futurism, the New York State Pavilion, has, in the ensuing decades, become what amNY called a “hulking 54-year-old relic of the World’s Fair,” though it has never lost its modernist cachet and has gained value as an historic ruin of sorts. Recently, talk of restoring the pavilion beyond its current inglorious purgatory slowly appears to be moving toward actual plans with funding attached. City officials and preservationists have secured $14 million for specific repairs and improvements to the pavilion.


Photo via Wikimedia Commons

Among the winning designs in the city’s recently held 36th Annual Awards for Excellence in Design was a plan to restore the mid-century icon (specifically, the Pavilion Observation Towers and the Tent of Tomorrow) to its former glory with 21st century stardust added.

As 6sqft reported, the design for the $14.25 million pavilion project was led by Silman, with specific elements coming from the firms L’Observatoire International and Jan Hird Pokorny Associates, working with the Parks Department. The renovation plan includes structural preservation of the observation towers, waterproofing the tower bases, improvements to the electrical infrastructure and architectural lighting of observation towers and the Tent of Tomorrow (The Tent of Tomorrow received a pricy paint job in 2015, donning a nice “American Cheese” yellow for $3 million). Mayor de Blasio kicked in $6.45 million for the project, while Borough President Melinda Katz raised $6.45 million, with the remaining $800,000 coming from the City Council.

New York State Pavilion, Fountain of the Fairs, Queens, Philip Johnson
Photo via Wikimedia Commons

The road to restoration faces challenges, though: Finding a firm that can take on a project of this type and scope has proven difficult. Of only two construction companies that responded to a bid, neither were seen as viable by the Parks Department. The city will be soliciting more bids later this summer.

Parks Department spokeswoman Meghan Lalor said, “Pending successful bids, we anticipate completing procurement in early 2019.” The city says that once it begins, work for the pavilion restoration will last about a year and a half.

New York State Pavilion, Fountain of the Fairs, Queens, Philip Johnson
Rendering courtesy of Quennell Rothschild & Partners

Additionally, as 6sqft previously reported, the fountains leading up to the iconic Unisphere will be returned to their former glory. The currently dilapidated Fountain of the Fairs will undergo a $5 million renovation next year. Renderings from Quennell Rothschild & Partners show a Fog Garden, a walkway filled with misting fountains, as well as a children’s water park and another plaza for outdoor performances, all of which will be lined with new landscaping and seating.

[Via AMNY]

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