When Vancouver, the largest city in Canada’s British Columbia province, hosted a Specialised Expo in 1986, it joined the Pacific Northwest’s other major cities, Seattle (1909, World Expo 1962), Portland (1905) and Spokane (Specialised Expo 1974) as hosts of international exhibitions. Looking back on the 35 years since Expo 1986 Vancouver, this event has also gained important symbolism as the last Expo hosted in North America, with the gap between then and now far longer than the previous interval (between 1940 and 1962) caused by the interruption of World War II.
Vancouver hosted a Specialised Expo back in 1986 that transformed the sleepy city on the Pacific coast to consistently being voted as one of the most livable cities, where last year it ranked sixth. Expo 1986 propelled the largest city in the Canadian province of British Colombia (BC) on the global spotlight and accelerated the economic development that was much needed to transform it to the global player it is now. Expo 1986 is even credited with helping get BC out of recession as well, which hit the province hard especially in 1982.
The last week of this A to Z of Expo architects is dedicated to Eberhard Zeidler, who designed the Canada Pavilion for Specialised Expo 1986 Vancouver, in partnership with Barry Downs.
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.