Parks Department Seeking Volunteers to Help Preserve New York State Pavilion

Designed by famed American architect Philip Johnson for the 1964 World’s Fair, the large-scale terrazzo art pavement was commissioned by Governor Nelson Rockefeller for the New York State Pavilion. Johnson’s Pavilion featured a complex of structures: a Theaterama building, three observation towers, and the “Tent of Tomorrow,” a 12-story open-air elliptical pavilion capped by the world’s largest suspended cable system roof fitted with colored acrylic panels. The “Tent of Tomorrow” became a symbol of the fair, and for its main floor, Johnson designed the largest-known representation of any area of the earth’s surface: a 130-foot by 166-foot terrazzo replica of a Texaco New York State road map.

Although the Fair buildings were intended as temporary, 1965 plans for creating Flushing Meadows-Corona Park identified the Pavilion for preservation and reuse. While the Theaterama was later successfully renovated as a community theater, the remaining complex is closed and derelict. Today the Tent is used for storage, and the Road Map is in an advanced state of deterioration from weathering, vandalism, and past inappropriate recreational uses.

We’re looking for 12-40 volunteers to help out onsite on SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21TH AND SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 28TH, performing a range of activities from removal of invasive vegetation, to the careful and systematic collection and bagging of map fragments that have been dislodged from the floor of the Pavilion. Instruction would be given to the volunteers on how to go about collecting the fragments before any work would begin. We’re looking for volunteers who are responsible, pay close attention to detail, and can follow instructions. Given the historical nature of the work, a certain degree of sensitivity is required. Everyday more of the famous map disappears, making the proposed conservation work critical.

Volunteers should meet at the New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows Park, Queens, by 9 a.m. All friends, family, co-workers and associates are welcome. There is a lot of work to be done and many volunteers are needed so please feel free to forward to others whom you think might be interested.

Additional details will be sent out closer to the volunteer work days. Please visit www.conlab.org to read about previous work done at the site by the University of Pennsylvania and the related exhibition held at the Queens Museum.

If you are interested, please RSVP as soon as possible at Michelle.Langlie@Parks.NYC.gov or at 718.760.6677.

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