Queens Theatre in the Park – 1964 World’s Fair Complex

Queens Theatre in the Park, 1964 World’s Fair complex, New York Building

Queens Theatre in the Park, NY

20th Century New York Architecture, USA – design by Caples Jefferson Architects

25 Sep 2011

Queens Theatre in the Park World’s Fair

Architect: Caples Jefferson Architects

Address: 14 United Nations Ave S, Queens, NY 11368, United States

Phone: +1 718-760-0064

The renovated Queens Theatre in the Park is a transparent curved wall pavilion and a major addition to the iconic 1964 World’s Fair complex designed by Philip Johnson.


This project has received several awards including Municipal Arts Society of New York 2011 MASterworks Award for Best Restoration, an A|L Design Award with special citation for Best Use of Color, the 2010 New York Construction Cultural Project of the Year, a Queens Chamber of Commerce Award and a NOMA National Award of Excellence in Architecture.

Queens Theatre in the Park World’s Fair Queens Theatre in the Park Queens Theatre World’s Fair complex Queens Theatre 1964 World’s Fair complex
photographs : Nic Lehoux

As described in the AIA Guide to New York City:
“One of the few pavilions of 1964 that attempted to use fresh technology as generator of form. In this case tubular perimeter columns (as well as those supporting the observation deck) were slip-formed of concrete in a continuous casting operation that proceeded vertically. The roof, originally sheathed in translucent colored plastic, is a double diaphragm of radial cables separated by vertical pencil rods to dampen flutter. It was the architectural star of the fair; a happy park building working with park space. The reconstructed Queens Theater-in-the-Park has brought sleek architecture and new vigor to this under-utilized complex.”

-p. 773, “Queens Theater-in-the-Park/originally Theaterama, 1964, Philip Johnson and Richard Foster, architects. Reconstruction, 1993, Alfredo De Vido. Expansion and reconstruction, 2006, Caples Jefferson Architects. www.queenstheatre.org

Queens Theatre in the Park World’s Fair Queens Theatre in the Park World’s Fair Queens Theatre in the Park World’s Fair
photographs : Nic Lehoux

Project Description

We see this as a place of reconnections, additions that build upon the playful circular geometries of the original 1964 Philip Johnson World’s Fair complex. Our new nebula room is a transparent viewing pavilion from which to appreciate the park’s dreams of futures past, the Unisphere and the Johnson observatory towers and pavilions still in search of rescue. It is a party room for the Borough, whose rich materials and sunset colors are understood as festive by a wide cross-section of the 109 ethnic cultures that are the glory of Queens. The new structure is a 600-person reception room for the Borough, standing on axis with the giant oval of Johnson’s New York State Pavilion.

Queens Theatre in the Park World’s Fair Queens Theatre in the Park World’s Fair Queens Theatre in the Park World’s Fair
photographs : Nic Lehoux

The challenge was to create the impression of round spiraling forms while living within a budget that permitted only large flat glazed units. Using the principles of Gestalt psychology and the art of perspective, we designed a structurally glazed wall with metal fins projecting at each vertical joint. The effect of the fins is to drive the mind’s eye to focus on the vanishing perspective that results from seeing them vanish around the curve. The spiraling slope of the ‘horizontal’ mullions further intensifies this perception of curved movement in space.

Queens Theatre in the Park World’s Fair Queens Theatre in the Park World’s Fair Queens Theatre in the Park World’s Fair
photographs : Julian Olivas

The design of the curtain wall utilizes a broad array of contemporary technologies including low emulsion coatings to reduce solar heat gain, silicone sealant joints in lieu of metal mullion caps, gas-filled insulating units to reduce heating costs, and laminated glass outer lights to increase unit size and provide vandalism resistance. Digital design and fabrication techniques enabled fabrication of over 5000 separate and unique glass panels that work in concert to create the illusion of perfect roundness. Construction completed in August 2011.

Queens Theatre in the Park World’s Fair
photograph : Nic Lehoux

Queens Theatre in the Park World’s Fair – Building Information

Clients: Queens Theatre-In-The-Park
NYC Department of Cultural Affairs
NYC Department pf Design & Construction
Construction Manager: Hill International
General Contractor: C & L Contracting
Curtainwall: Zimmcor
Mechanical Contractor: Northstar
Plumbing Contractor: Aspro
Electrical Contractor: Interphase

Joint Venture Architect: John M.Y. Lee / Michael Timchula
Structural: GACE
MEP Engineers:
Phase 1: Loring
Phase 2: Shenoy Engineers
Civil Engineers: Langan
Geotechnical Engineers:
Phase 1: Robert Alperstein
Phase 2: Louis Berger
Lighting Design Nebula: L’Observatoire
Lighting Design Cabaret: Berg Howland Associates
Landscape Architect: EKLA
Food Service: Pascoe-Jacobs
Cost Estimating: VJ Associates
Acoustics and Audio-Visual: Shen Milsom Wilke
Theatrical: Auerbach Pollack Friedlander
Building Department:
Phase 1: Metropolis
Phase 2: Berzak Schoen
Specifications: Aaron Pine, CSI
Curtainwall: Gordon Smith
Photography: Nic Lehoux, Aerial Photography: Julian Olivas

The Municipal Arts Society of New York just give it their MASterworks Award for Best Restoration.

Queens Theatre in the Park World’s Fair
photograph : Caples Jefferson Architects

Location: Flushing Meadows Corona Park, Queens, NY

Caples Jefferson Architects PC are based in Long Island City, NY

The 1964/1965 New York World’s Fair was the third major world’s fair to be held in New York City.

The fair ran for two six-month seasons, 22 Apr – 18 Oct, 1964 and 21 Apr – 17 Oct, 1965.

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Website: queenstheatre.org