For the 1964 World’s Fair, over 51 million people came to the massive New York State Pavilion in Queens, New York. The structure was custom-built for the Fair, where companies from all over the world showcased their budding advances in technology and transportation.
In the decades that followed, the Pavilion was abandoned and vandalised. Now the city hopes to restore it to its former glory.
To imagine what a revitalized Pavilion might look like, the nonprofits National Trust for Historic Preservation and People for the Pavilion launched a competition, asking designers from all over the world for ideas.
Out of more than 250 submissions, Washington-based designers Aidan Doyle and Sarah Wan’s “Hanging Meadow” won first place. It imagines the Pavilion as a lush, suspended garden. Inside, there would be a public park and pathways for people to explore.
The concrete columns would support the giant, enclosed garden, which would prioritise native plants. Looking out from the pathways, visitors would have a view of the city while standing amongst the plants, Doyle and Wan write.
The goal of the competition is to both raise interest and funds for the Pavilion’s restoration, Stephanie Meeks, CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, tells Business Insider.
A complete restoration would cost NYC an estimated $53 million, according to a Parks Department report from 2013. Queens Borough President Melinda Katz has already raised over $10 million for the restoration project, though there is no exact timeline for its construction. There’s no word yet if the Hanging Meadows design will be used even if the city raises enough money.
Whether the design is realised or not, those fighting for the renovation hope that the ’64 World Fair’s sense of optimistic wonder is preserved.
The Fair and Pavilion “represent a hopeful era in America when people looked to the moon landing, the potential of computers, and the arrival of the Ford Mustang as thrilling … moments,” Meeks says. “It is a symbol of hope and the potential for creativity in civic life for future generations.”
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