It's been years since the state landmarked Philip Johnson's New York State Pavilion, a remaining relic of the 1964-65 World's Fair, but the structure still sits unused in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. In 2014, the city set aside about $6 million to begin restoring the pavilion, and last fall the place got a $3 million yellow paint job, just in time for the 50th anniversary of the World's Fair's closing ceremony. A full restoration is still something of a pipe dream, considering it'd cost about $52 million, but there's no harm in fantasizing—and that's exactly what New Yorkers were encouraged to do in a competition to imagine a "dramatic comeback" for the pavilion.
The competition is a joint venture between the National Trust for Historic Preservation and People for the Pavilion, along with Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who has previously arranged for the pavilion's structures to be illuminated in what might one day be a semi-permanent lighting installation. Submissions were accepted between March 1st and July 1st, and they're now available online for the public to vote on.
Though it's unlikely any of the designs will actually come to fruition any time soon, that's not really the point. Rather, the competition was meant to draw public awareness to the unused space and drum up excitement about its potential future uses: People for the Pavilion co-founder Salmaan Khan told the Wall Street Journal that "we wanted to get people to see this is an opportunity...not a lost cause."
The competition drew over 250 submissions, ranging from high-deas such as turning the pavilion into one gigantic cheeseburger to more practical suggestions that echoed the pavilion's early repurposing as a performance venue and recreation space, before it fell into disrepair and disuse. The proposal that currently has the most votes is to make the pavilion a street art museum; polling not too far behind that dramatic rendering is a child's hand-drawn plan for a family park, complete with "bumpy cars" and a 3D movie theater.
We've assembled some of the more thought-provoking, visually interesting, and/or amusing proposals in the gallery above—check them out, and cast your vote before July 15th if you feel so inclined. The proposal that receives the most votes will receive $500, while three winners chosen by a panel of architects, engineers, and community leaders will get $3,000, $1,000, and $500 each. That's petty cash compared to how much it'll cost to restore the pavilion, but perhaps the imaginative proposals will inspire billionaire and World's Fair superfan John Catsimatidis to foot the bill: in 2014, he said he'd be willing to do so, but that "you need people who have dreams. Americans need dreams. We don't have anybody that dreams anymore."