After decades of neglect, Flushing Meadows-Corona Park’s under-utilized 1964 World’s Fair structures are getting a new lease on life—at least in theory. The National Trust For Historic Preservation issued a design competition to rethink the future of the aging New York State Pavilion in March; the submission period for designs wrapped up on Friday, with voting now underway. While the proposal won’t be put into effect at the site, the competition will breathe life into one of NYC’s most important and underserved architectural artifacts.
Per the Wall Street Journal, the design competition drew more than 250 proposals from the world over, with submissions ranging from the practical to the imaginative. In the time after the World’s Fair, the Philip Johnson-designed pavilion was transformed into a roller skating rink and performance space, and has been used as a backdrop in films like The Wiz and Men In Black.
Some of the proposals make the pavilion’s past uses—Led Zeppelin once performed on its stage—seem rather boring. One proposal imagines the structures as a brewery with a hydroponic farm used for growing hops. Another reimagines the Tent of Tomorrow as the base for a glowing tower that, "through a synchronized dialogue of lights," communicates with the Empire State Building. One of the proposals leading in the competition at this time seeks to bring LED technology to the pavilion in order to infuse the analog space with digital capabilities.
One of the more bizarre proposals seeks to erect a loud and proud ode to the cheeseburger at the site. (Here’s a sampling of the proposal text: "The shape of Philip Johnson’s historic pavilion could be immortalized in juicy flavorful burgery goodness and the grease would prevent weathering from New York’s harsh winter conditions.") Another wants to transform the structures into a trampoline base and observation deck. A third wants to turn the Tent of Tomorrow into the world’s first official UFO landing site.
The submissions will be judged by a panel including architect Deborah Berke and architecture critic Paul Goldberger, alongside community officials. While community votes won’t determine which proposal plows ahead, it will go towards determining the competition’s "Fan Favorite." Winners will be awarded $3,000 in cash. Voting closes on July 15, and can be done here.