ACL Project List

This project celebrates the relatively short life of an extraordinary building that played host to over six million visitors, the New York State Pavilion. Conceived, built, and in use as designed for only two years, the Pavilion was witness to one of the most popular events of the 1960s, the New York World’s Fair. However unlike the Fair, the Pavilion and its exhibits reflected the contradictions, doubt, and cultural revolution that would come to characterize post-industrial America. The Pavilion’s famous road map pavement, conceived by architect Philip Johnson, was among the first and largest public Pop Art monuments in the United States. The map pavement is also a unique example of terrazzo fabrication and utilized modern materials never before employed in terrazzo, such as colored glass aggregates and plastic insets. The representation of geographic locales in the form of a map pavement is an ancient tradition, which Johnson updated through the use of modern pop imagery and materials. Long neglected and hidden from public view since the 1970s when the Pavilion closed, the pavement presents unusual challenges in both its conservation and display.
      The University of Pennsylvania’s Architectural Conservation Laboratory (ACL) has promoted the preservation of the New York State Pavilion since 2003 through a series of research efforts. In 2006, with funding from the National Endowment for the Arts, the ACL was able to implement this research by developing a model conservation program for the map pavement and an exhibit on the Pavilion and its famous map pavement at the Queens Museum in 2008.

The New York State Pavilion offered a space age prediction of the future, yet its current status reminds us of how short-lived such visions of modernity can be.