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Restoration work begins at the NYS State Pavilion in Queens, NY

September 28, 2019

Once deemed “too expensive to be torn down,” The New York State Pavilion (1964) and Towers will enter a first phase of restoration in October. The project is expected to be completed in March 2021, according to People for Pavilion, a non-profit organization devoted to raising awareness of the Pavilion’s historic value.

Philip Johnson (1906–2005) and Lev Zetlin (1918–1992) designed the pavilion, with its circular “Tent of Tomorrow,” and adjacent towers for the 1964 World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, Queens. Both were intended to be permanent public structures after the fair but New York City’s financial crisis in the 1970s led to abandonment and decades of deterioration. The upcoming work is the first real investment in the structures since the fair. The restoration project first received $14.25 million in funding in 2017. That amount has increased to $24 million in joint funding from the Mayor’s Office, Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, and the City Council, NYC Parks reported.

Scope of the current project includes architectural lighting in the three observation towers and the Tent of Tomorrow, structural conservation work, and waterproofing of the tower bases. After completion the towers will still be closed to the public and access to the Pavilion will remain limited. Early studies estimated $22 million to fully restore the “Tent of Tomorrow” and an additional $30 million to make the towers publicly accessible. Nonetheless, the project is a welcome sign of serious efforts to reclaim one of the city’s most loved Modern ruins. 

“A relic of the 1964 World’s Fair will finally get restored in Queens,” Curbed NY, September, 9, 2019.

“Restoration Underway for Queens Pavilion Observation Towers,” NY1 News, September 24, 2019

Photo © Jeff Bachner
Photo courtesy NYC Parks Department