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.

 

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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Four-year renovation project to brighten up Le Grand Palais

Four-year renovation project to brighten up Le Grand Palais

Le Grand Palais – one of the most splendid buildings in Paris and a legacy of the city’s extraordinary World Expo in 1900 – is set to undergo a large-scale renovation, according to a recent announcement from its President, Sylvie Hubac. The aim of the works, which will take place between 2020 and 2024, is to bring greater flexibility and openness to the colossal structure, which is composed of several halls and venues.

The renovation programme will return the Grand Palais to its original splendour, removing internal walls and reusing the structure’s existing large bay windows and balconies. As a result, the capacity of the mammoth Nave – the main hall that hosts events including fashion shows, contemporary art fairs and show-jumping competitions - is set to double to 11,000 people.

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Seville’s Pavilion of the Future to host Andalusia’s unique Archive Centre

Seville’s Pavilion of the Future to host Andalusia’s unique Archive Centre

While the legacy of a World Expo is often judged in the weeks and months following its closure, the long term contribution to the host city continues to evolve over decades. The latest announcement from Seville - that the Pavilion of the Future from Expo 1992 will become a regional Archive Centre – proves this, showing that even 24 years later, a pavilion built for the Expo can continue to attract interest and investment.

The Pavilion of the Future was one of the largest and most iconic buildings built for Expo 1992 in Seville, hosting the thematic areas of the Universe, Telecommunications, Energy and the Environment. Designed by the architects Martorell, Bohigas, Macklay and engineer Peter Rice, the 25,019 m2 building features a waveform roof and a free-standing façade composed of 11 semi-circular stone arches made from Rosa Poriña granite from Galicia. Located on the city’s Isla de la Cartuja, the Pavilion of the Future neighbours the ‘Seville Rocket’, a full-scale replica of the Ariane Four launch system.

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Superman Day: when a comic superhero came to life

Superman Day: when a comic superhero came to life

The New York World’s Fair, which celebrated the 150th anniversary of George Washington’s presidential inauguration, was a momentous occasion for New Yorkers and for the world, attracting some 45 million visitors over its two seasons in 1939 and 1940. The Expo was also a remarkable event for fans of superheroes, as it staged the first ever appearance of Superman. Previously confined to comic books and radio shows, it was on 3 July 1940 that visitors could come to the Expo and for the very first time see the superhero in the flesh.

On this day, known as Superman Day, the cost of a children’s ticket to the Expo was reduced from 50 cents to 5 cents, encouraging visitors to attend. The event was the brainchild of publicist Allen ‘Duke’ Ducovny, with the aim of attracting more visitors to the Expo and boosting sales of the 100-page special edition of DC’s New York World’s Fair Comics, which was only on sale on the Expo site.

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