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Documentarian Rallies To Save Decrepit World's Fair Pavilion

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One decaying remnant of the 1964-1965 World's Fair in Flushing Meadows Corona Park has found an advocate: 27-year-old Matthew Silva, a teacher who is making a documentary about the New York State Pavilion. A round structure with a ceiling of wired spokes designed by modernist architect Philip Johnson that also has two observation towers protruding above, what was once a retro-futuristic exhibition with a map of the roads of New York State at its base is now gray and full of cracks. Reincarnated briefly as a roller rink in the 1970s, it now stands abandoned?"a modern ruin," as Silva calls it. In time for the fair's 50th anniversary in April 2014, he is campaigning to save it via his in-progress documentary under his label Aquarela Pictures (all chronicled on his blog), plus rallying support via Facebook and Twitter. Silva is about halfway to his $5,000 fundraising goal, money to help him travel across the country for interviews.

In the video on his GoFundMe page (embedded below), Silva interviews Queens native and pavilion fan Nick Hirshon. "It's really sad when you look of photos and video of how it looked during the fair. It's magical. It looks so whimsical, all lit up?you can see if being the Eiffel Tower of Queens," he says. "I don't think it would be that hard to sell it as a museum or a restaurant or some kind of other use." A lack of vision on the part of officials at the time, like Robert Moses, is blamed for the pavilion's dormancy, as is a lack of initiative by every mayor since.

One advocate, who has been writing to officials asking if anything can be done to reinvent the building, posted a response from the administrator of Flushing Meadows Corona Park on Facebook, which says that the Parks department has done two structural surveys of the site to figure out its condition, and even tapped architecture firm Perkins + Will to explore "possible adaptive reuse scenarios for the NYS Pavilion Towers and Tent of Tomorrow, including obtaining the community's input on potential future uses."

Silva updates interested parties on his latest efforts, including his most recent interview subjects, including Joe Tirella, the author of an upcoming book about the World's Fair, who agrees that the pavilion needs to be repurposed and not just treated as "a remnant of another age." "Absolutely I think it's worth preserving. It's an architectural treasure. But they haven't done anything with it. Hopefully it's not too late," Tirella told Silva on camera. "It's basically the symbol of what's wrong with New York, and what continues to be wrong with New York, and how we continue to let our waterfronts, our artistic treasures, and our architectural treasures rot." This summer Silva plans to interview architect Robert Stern, historian of art and architecture John Kriskiewicz, and architecture critic Paul Goldberger.


[Photos via Facebook.]

· New York State Pavilion Documentary [GoFundMe]
· People for the New York State Pavilion [Facebook]
· Filmmaker Hopes Documenting Decaying Queens Landmark Can Help Save It [DNAinfo via Queens Crap]
· Preservation Watch archive [Curbed]