By Patrick Donachie
A collection of organizations sponsored an event outside the Flushing Queens Library Sunday that encouraged the Flushing community to engage their imaginations on how best to use the New York State Pavilion site in Flushing Meadows Corona Park.
“We’re inviting folks to come and reimagine what it could be,” said Beatriz Gil, the co-founder of Hibridos Collective. “We feel very strongly about presenting it in a public forum.”
The New York State Pavilion was built as a part of the 1964 World’s Fair and included three towers; the “Tent of Tomorrow,” which included steel frameworks and a floor emblazoned with a Texaco map of New York State; and a performance venue currently housing the Queens Theatre. As the decades passed, the towers and the tent fell into disrepair and now sit unused.
In 2014, the city allocated about $5.8 million to restore the pavilion and last summer the tent’s steel framework was repainted. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and the People for the Pavilion teamed up earlier this year to organize the New York State Pavilion Ideas Competition, where community members could create designs and plans on how the space could best be used. Hibridos Collective was helping to organize the public events, saying that a previous session was held at the Queens Theatre last month.
“We’re still trying to get out information about the pavilion,” Salmaan Khan, the co-founder of People for the Pavilion, said. “It was always meant to be a fluid, functional public space.”
Khan said it was unheard of for such a vast swath of public space in the city to remain inaccessible.
“It’s so bizarre and antithetical to New York City, where we use every inch of space that we have,” he said.
Melissa Terrell said she was aware of the pavilion because she often drove past it on the highway, but she only knew of it as an unused property.
“It seems like something that was beautiful that just died,” she said, while she sketched a rendering of the pavilion that included a carousel, a drawing room and a telescope in one of the towers.
Khan said he hoped that the competition would increase awareness of the pavilion so New Yorkers might see it as more than an antiquated relic from the past.
“People see it as abandoned and that’s what will always be,” he said. “We want to show that that’s not the case.”
A selection of judges, including design experts, elected officials and Queens leaders, will decide on the top three designs, and there is also a chance to vote online for a fan favorite. All the designs can be viewed at www.nyspi
Reach reporter Patrick Donachie by e-mail at pdona