ACL Project List

The New York State Pavilion, designed by architect Philip Johnson for the 1964-65 World’s Fair in Queens, New York was praised by both visitors and architectural critics during the fair. Today it remains a beloved landmark, especially for New Yorkers, despite its ruinous condition. Johnson’s design for the Pavilion included the Tent of Tomorrow, three observation towers (the tallest reaching 226 feet), and the Theaterama, the latter adorned with art, and especially the new Pop Art by artists Andy Warhol, Roy Lichtenstein, James Rosenquist, and Alexander Liberman. The Pavilion was a superlative structure: the tallest and the largest state building at the fair with the largest suspension roof of its type, and the world’s largest two-dimensional map, complementing the largest globe (Unisphere) and the largest scale model of a city located in the New York City Pavilion.

The New York State Pavilion during the World’s Fair (Official Postcard © Dexter Press).
After the closing of the fair the vast majority of the exhibitions were demolished or dismantled and used elsewhere. The Pavilion, however, was too expensive to demolish and was instead given to the City of New York.

  After the fair closed, the Pavilion was one of several structures to remain standing, partly due to its design excellence and the exorbitant cost of demolition. Attempts to find alternate uses included transforming the Tent of Tomorrow into a roller skating rink, known as the Roller Round in the 1970s.
After the pavilion was given to the City of New York, it functioned as a roller rink for a few years in the 1970s.

While the Theaterama was renovated into a theater for the arts in 1972 (and again in 2007-2008), the remainder of the complex was closed and fell into disrepair. For safety reasons, the suspended acrylic roofing panels of the famous cable roof were removed in 1976 exposing the map pavement to harsh environmental conditions.

The large central ring which connected the roof cabling now serves as a roosting spot for pigeons.