New York State Pavilion

Icons at Risk

New York State Pavilion

Location: New York City

Architect: Philip Johnson

Year: 1964

Constructed for the 1964 World's Fair, this futuristic pavilion was designed by Philip Johnson as an amphitheater and exhibition space. Featuring an elaborate mosaic map of New York State on its floor, the 350-by-250-foot elliptical structure boasts what was once the world's largest suspended-cable roof system, and sits next to a trio of towers crowned by viewing chambers shaped like flying saucers. The otherworldly pavilion has served as a set for the film version of The Wiz and figured in the more recent Men in Black, in which the towers turn out to conceal actual flying saucers. The encroachment of time and neglect now threaten the New York State Pavilion. The Queens Theatre in the Park has operated in the Theaterama at the foot of the towers since 1993, but the rest of the structure is crumbling. Proposals to turn it into an air-and-space museum or incorporate it into a new World's Fair in Queens for 2015 have been abandoned, and though minor restoration work has been performed on the mosaic, this last great reminder of an age when modernism meant the future does not have time on its side. 


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