The History of World Expositions
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The heart of the exhibition in Seattle was a group of five gleaming white box-like buildings representing the U.S. science pavilion. The “great practical value of science for peace efforts” was to be shown here. The facades of the buildings - arranged by architect Minoru Yamasaki around a water basin with a fountain - were decorated with neo-gothic intertwined floral patterns, the pattern being repeated in numerous versions in the whole building, from door knob to banister. The five freestanding arches in the yard, called “Science Arches” ended in neo-gothic bow shaped decorations. They towered above the buildings and softened the monotony of the arrangement.

Distinctively modern forms were used by architect Paul Thiry for the Washington State Coliseum, a sports hall for 18,000 spectators: a parabolic aluminium roof was suspended on prestressed concrete and steel supports covering 16,000 square metres. Here the World of Future could be seen, for instance self-steering cars without wheels or solar-heated houses with walls of air. In the libraries of the future books were excerpted by computers so that visitors could electronically retrieve chosen paragraphs from certain topics. At least this prediction came surprisingly close to modern reality.

In New York, the landmarks of the 1939 World’s Fair, Trylon and Perisphere, were replaced by the Unisphere – a 12 storey high model of the world globe (made from 470 tons of stainless steel) resting on three steel beams above a shallow water basin. Three rings around the globe were symbolising the orbit of human-made satellites.

Only a few buildings offered innovative architecture. The corporate giants at least presented themselves with elegant successful buildings with modern use of forms and some countries made an impression with clean constructions. The Austrian pavilion, for instance, was a wooden container suspended on three triangular supports made from laminated wood. The pointed structure could well be seen as an abstract symbol for the Alps – but such “talking architecture” was rare.

The pavilions were mostly steel frame constructions covered with curved sheet metal. Buildings “floating” over water basins and using mirror effects was standard, too. Some buildings used the new possibility of fibre glass and plastic panels for a light roof truss. A few roofs were supported with air systems or constructed as tents.

The at all world expositions ever popular replicas of traditional and exotic architecture were represented by old temples and churches as well as a Belgian village of around 1800 - and an Amusement Park.

The exposition design of many companies was inspired by the just upcoming Pop Art. Besides colourful light orgies, photo walls and gigantic blown-up company logos, painted tyres and moon surfaces in the painting style of James Rosenquist and Roy Lichtenstein could be seen. The artists themselves were present at the Fair. But they were not supposed to deal too critically or ironically with the American Way of Life. Andy Warhols monumental painting ‘Thirteen Most Wanted Men’ depicting the most wanted criminals of the States, was not up for long on the outer wall of the New York State pavilion. Warhols suggestion to replace the criminals with portraits of Robert Moses was not well received either.

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The Seattle World Exposition 1962 and the New York World Exposition 1964
A very colourful Mixture
Year: 1962City: SeattleCountry: USA
Duration: 21th April - 21th October 1962



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