Expo Blog

The Expo Blog is a space for posts on the history, themes, legacies and experience of Expos. It includes articles from the BIE and external contributors.

 

James Ogul is a specialist in World Expos who worked at the U.S. State Department for over 30 years. Ogul has worked on U.S. pavilions at ten Expos, starting at Expo 1982 in Knoxville.

A Space Odyssey: the U.S. Pavilion at Expo 1986 Vancouver

A Space Odyssey: the U.S. Pavilion at Expo 1986 Vancouver

I got a call while on break in Hawaii on the way home from Expo 1985 Tsukuba where I had served as U.S. Pavilion Exhibits Director asking me to be U.S. Pavilion Director for Expo 1986 Vancouver. I accepted and the family rerouted to Vancouver. Our two sons who had spent a year living in Japan now had to adjust to living in Vancouver. Arriving there in November of 1985, the Expo was already under construction and at that particular stage it echoed the appearance of Tsukuba coming down. It was a kind of déjà vu experience and a reminder of how close together Expos had been occurring.

Expo 86 took place between 2 May and 13 October 1986, and as it turned out this would be the last Expo in North America, although Calgary made a failed bid for 2005, and Edmonton for 2017, among others.

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Sketching the future: the U.S. Pavilion at Expo 1985 Tsukuba

Sketching the future: the U.S. Pavilion at Expo 1985 Tsukuba

After serving as U.S. Pavilion Exhibits Director at Expo 1984 in New Orleans, I left the Commerce Department and joined the U.S. Information Agency as Exhibits Director for the U.S. Pavilion at Expo 1985 in the Japanese city of Tsukuba. Our family, my wife and two sons aged five and one arrived in December 1984. The theme of the expo was "Dwellings and Surroundings - Science and Technology for Man at Home" and our pavilion took Artificial Intelligence as its theme. Expo 1985 ran from 17 March to 16 September. It was ranked a huge success with 20,334,727 visitors attending and 111 countries participating, plus an impressive array of 18 corporate pavilions featuring state of the art technology including robots and giant screen presentations.

The 3,000m2 US Pavilion at Expo 1985 was in a generic building provided by the organisers, situated on a 5,000m2 plot at the north-western corner of the Expo grounds. It consisted of two courtyards, two plazas and three separate buildings: Theme Pavilion, Theatre and Corporate Pavilion. The larger and taller theme pavilion to the right and the smaller Corporate Pavilion to the left were both housed under cable tensioned polymer fabric roofs. Between them was a Trapezoid Theatre where “To Think”, a 15-minute film by Joseph Aloysius Becker, was shown. The corporate building which also included a restaurant and a gift shop housed exhibits by Texas Instruments, DuPont, Polaroid and TRW. The idea of separating out the corporate section was new to our pavilions and worked well. The Federal budget for the pavilion was US $9,535,962. Attendance totalled five million visitors.

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Flying visitors to the moon: the US pavilion at Expo 1984

Flying visitors to the moon: the US pavilion at Expo 1984

New Orleans ’84; the Louisiana World Exposition. Coming just two years after Knoxville, work on the U.S. Pavilion for New Orleans Expo had already begun before Knoxville’s run had ended. In my role as Exhibits Director for the US pavilion, I was responsible for coordinating the design, fabrication and installation of the exhibits and production of a 3-D film.

By negotiation with the expo organising committee, the Expo would provide the 9,290m2 building that housed the US pavilion, valued at approximately $10 million, and the U.S. Department of Commerce would provide the exhibits and operations with a matching budget. The building was designed, built and paid for by the fair corporation and owner, Louisiana World Exposition, Inc.

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Opinions given by external contributors to the Expo Blog do not necessarily reflect the views and position of the BIE