A documentary revisiting the 1964 New York State Pavilion, a compendium by Thomas Heatherwick and a collection of pop-up installations that explore the “flexibilization” of urban environments.
Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion
Film directed by Matthew Silva
Aquarela Pictures (77 minutes)
The New York State Pavilion of the 1964 World’s Fair thrilled audiences with ideas of what lay ahead in the not-too-distant future, predicting space exploration, cars kitted out with computers and other technological advancements. The Jetsons-worthy structure, including three UFO-like observation towers and a fibreglass-topped rotunda, was the brainchild of Philip Johnson, who promised that his pavilion would indelibly change the neighbourhood. But as the city’s “master builder,” Robert Moses, states in archival footage at the outset of this film, “World’s fairs, as a rule, are ephemeral.”
Fifty years on, the lustre has worn off, and the once-inspiring Tent of Tomorrow stands derelict. Directed by People for the Pavilion co-founder Matthew Silva, Modern Ruin is a tribute to the lasting memories the fair instilled in those who crossed its terrazzo floors, and to the preservationists who are pushing to make this feat of architecture once again stand proud. By Kendra Jackson
Thomas Heatherwick: Making
Book by Thomas Heatherwick and Maisie Rowe
Monacelli Press (softcover, 640 pages)
Nearly one billion people watched the opening ceremonies of the London Olympics in 2012. For many, the headline-grabbing cauldron, assembled into a ring of fire one torch at a time, was their first exposure to Thomas Heatherwick’s work. Three years later, he has become an architectural juggernaut, on par with his British colleagues Dame Zaha Hadid and Sir Norman Foster.
This massive monograph brings together 140 projects of his 25-year career, from the largest – his plan to build a Garden Bridge over the Thames – to greeting cards no bigger than a postage stamp. Each illustrated example is introduced by a question; “How can a building represent a nation?” was the one that led to the U.K.’s bristly Seed Cathedral pavilion at the Shanghai World Expo 2010. Such inquiries speak to an explorative approach; it’s impossible to flip through the remarkable projects of Making without appreciating Heatherwick’s ability to see the world as a playground of ideas. By David Dick‑Agnew
Book by Jeroen Beekmans and Joop de Boer
BIS Publishers (hardcover, 290 pages)
Here today, gone tomorrow: the trend toward pop-ups is moving fast, sweeping up artists, restaurateurs, retailers and even ordinary people in its wake. In 2008, the authors started popupcity.net to document examples of temporary structures around the world. They contend that such installations signify the start of a paradigm shift toward “flexibilisation,” which emphasizes the need for adaptability in cities changing faster than ever before. Their crowd-funded hardcover collects many of these case studies: a street artist’s lean-to behind a billboard, Ikea’s flat-packed refugee shelters, a parasite theatre in an outdoor stairway, an independent zine kiosk, a 3-D printing studio on wheels.
These provide a jumping-off point for discussing broader issues of urbanism and the small acts that often define city life. In an age of hyper-connectivity, it’s understandable that we’re not so rooted in one place anymore. This hefty volume chronicles that temporary spirit – ironically, in a very permanent medium. By Catherine Sweeney