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Saving “Futuristic Relics” of the 1964-65 World’s Fair

Saving “Futuristic Relics” of the 1964-65 World’s Fair
Saving “Futuristic Relics” of the 1964-65 World’s Fair
Saving “Futuristic Relics” of the 1964-65 World’s Fair
Saving “Futuristic Relics” of the 1964-65 World’s Fair
Saving “Futuristic Relics” of the 1964-65 World’s Fair
Saving “Futuristic Relics” of the 1964-65 World’s Fair
Saving “Futuristic Relics” of the 1964-65 World’s Fair
Saving “Futuristic Relics” of the 1964-65 World’s Fair

Update: January 2014
The Conservancy helped fund an engineering and conservation study that analyzed two reinforced fiberglass pavilions that are relics of the 1964-65 World’s Fair. The structures, located near the marina in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, are highly unusual both in terms of their material and mode of assembly. They were part of an experiment in the structural application of fiberglass reinforced plastics (FRP). Other FRP pavilions were built at the World’s Fair but only these survive.

The study found that small circular discs called “roto-locks” were used to connect and fasten the different segments of the pavilion. Where these pieces are rusting and failing, the pavilions’ seams are opening up.

The report, which was completed this month, is intended to aid the Parks Department in making informed decisions on the maintenance and restoration of the structures. It will also assist in developing a phased work plan.

The report was prepared by Robert Silman Associates in collaboration with Jablonski Building Conservation. The team performed a structural and material evaluation of the two pavilions. They were analyzed and assessed to determine their stability and the effects of fifty years of weathering.

In general, the report recommends that both pavilions be temporarily disassembled into their original parts, that the interlocking pieces set within the seams be replaced, that repairs to the shell and internal foam be made, and that the pieces be re-assembled.

The history of fiberglass reinforced plastic dates back to 1932. The Corning Glass Company together with Owens-Illinois were the first to develop a glass fiber cloth that was lightweight and strong. The first RFP boat was built in 1942 and from there many other uses were found for the material.

May, 2013
The Candela Pavilions are two modernistic structures set in a leafy area by the marina in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. These eye-catching pavilions are relics from the 1964-65 New York World’s Fair. Originally featuring glass walls and housing informational exhibits, they have since lost their walls and are now open garden pavilions that provide shade and shelter to park goers.

Of the three original pavilions, two remain in their original locations. The third one, which was the subject of a New York Times article on May 19th, was moved to the Adirondacks. The pavilions are made of reinforced fiberglass, utilizing a thin-shell parabolic construction, which was perfected by early 20th-century architect Felix Candela, but he did not design these buildings. Architect Peter Schladermundt designed both the marina and the pavilions for the Fair.

The Parks Department has maintained the pavilions over the years and they were last restored about twenty years ago. However they are now showing serious signs of material failure evidenced by the opening up of seams and the presence of biological growth, which is a sign of moisture retention.

Before embarking on a new restoration campaign, the Parks Department needs a thorough, detailed structures report analyzing how the pavilions were built and how to address their deterioration. The Conservancy solicited two proposals from experts in the field and Parks picked the team headed by Ed Meade from Robert Silman Associates. The Conservancy will help defray the cost of the report. Once the report is in hand, Parks Department officials will know exactly what the restoration will entail and what amount of capital funds to seek in order to preserve these appealing mid-century modern structures.

You can read more about the structures and the third pavilion that now resides in the Adirondacks at the NY Times website.



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