Tag Archives: MODERN RUIN: A World’s Fair Pavilion

NYS Pavilion documentary to premiere this May at Queens Theatre

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of Matthew Silva

More than 50 years after the World’s Fair, the New York State Pavilion is ready for another premiere.

“Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion,” a documentary about the history of the iconic Flushing Meadows Corona Park structure and the efforts to save the neglected relic, will debut to the public at the Queens Theatre this May.

The films tells the story of the pavilion, designed by architect Philip Johnson, from its glory days at the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair, to its time as a ‘60s concert venue and ‘70s roller rink, to its abandonment and today’s efforts to save and repurpose the structure.

Written, directed and edited by Matthew Silva, with executive producers Jake Gorst and Tracey Rennie Gorst, the documentary tries to make a case for why the pavilion should be kept around and brings to life the story behind the structure.

“It’s been really great to see how much people care about the building and I’m really eager to share this project with people in May,” Silva said.

“I really hope that people watch this movie and learn about what the building is and recognize the cultural and historic significance, and see what me and a lot of other people see,” he added.

Photo courtesy of Christine Rafalke

Roller skaters at the pavilion in the 1970s. (Photo courtesy of Christine Rafalke)

Silva, a video production teacher for Jericho Middle School and High School, had no professional filmmaking experience before he started making the documentary in February 2013. It took him two years and almost $25,000 — raised through GoFundMe and Kickstarter — to complete the project.

When Silva set out to do the film he didn’t feel like many people were talking about the pavilion, but that started to change after he began his production and the structure’s 50th anniversary in the spring of 2014 approached.

In November 2013, the Parks Department released plans to restore the pavilion, with cost estimates starting at $43 million. An option to tear it down would cost about $14 million. Support from the public and Borough President Melinda Katz, however, leaned toward preserving it.

To mark the pavilion’s 50th anniversary in April 2014, the Parks Department opened the pavilion to the public for the first time in decades. It was also named a “National Treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation for the anniversary.

world's fair 3

People line up to visit the pavilion during its anniversary last spring.

That June, Katz secured $5.8 million in funding to begin the restoration process. Part of that effort has included preliminary test runs of LED display lights for the pavilion’s observation decks on Feb. 27 and one scheduled for Tuesday night.

These increased efforts added to the narrative of the documentary, with Silva choosing to end the film with the opening of the pavilion on the anniversary.

“I could have never imagined that [the opening] could have been a part of the film when I set out to do the film,” he said.

Silva was also inspired to do more to help the pavilion’s preservation efforts while filming and co-founded the advocacy group People for the Pavilion in May 2013.

The efforts of individuals and groups like his own, such as the New York State Pavilion Paint Project, a volunteer organization dedicated to maintaining the structure through painting and other upkeep projects, are highlighted in his documentary.

Silva is hoping to incorporate some of those who contributed to its history and took part in the film at a Q&A with nonprofit documentation and conservation organization Docomomo US/New York Tri-State during the premiere — including Albert Fischer, a VIP guide at the ’64 fair; Charles Aybar, who worked as a pavilion skate guard; and Bill Cotter, an author and World’s Fair photo archivist.

world's fair 2

New York State Pavilion Paint Project at work.

The film will premiere at 8 p.m. on Friday, May 22, at the Queens Theatre, which was once part of the one of three structures, designed by Johnson along with the Tent of Tomorrow and observation towers, to comprise the pavilion. For now, the May screening is the only one scheduled, but Silva said more are in the works.

“I hope [the film] helps perpetuate understanding and get more people interested in the building that can bring more positive growth and renewal to the park and to Queens,” he said.

For tickets and more information about the premiere, visit https://web.ovationtix.com/trs/pe.c/9994545. To learn more about the film, visit www.aquarelapictures.com.


Star of Queens: Matthew Silva, co-founder, People for the Pavilion

By Queens Courier Staff | editorial@queenscourier.com

Matthew silva

COMMUNITY SERVICE: Matthew Silva is co-founder of People for the Pavilion, an organization created in May of 2013 to fight for the preservation of the New York State Pavilion.

BACKGROUND: Born at Flushing Hospital, Queens, Silva lived in Middle Village until his family moved to Stony Brook, Long Island, when he was three.

“When in Queens, I would always see the buildings looking out the window of my parents’ car and I always wondered what they were,” said Silva.

Silva attended SUNY Oswego, where he studied technology and video production. He now works as an educator, teaching technology.

After learning the history of the New York State Pavilion, he started making a film to educate people about the significance of the site.

Two years ago, Silva involved his eighth grade class in his passion for the Pavilion and created a project allowing them to redesign the building for community use. “They loved it, and that’s part of what started the group [People for the Pavilion] –I realized there were a lot of people out there who had a connection to these buildings.”

While promoting his film last May, he met Christian Doran, and they came together and decided they would form an organization that would work to save the New York State Pavilion.

FAVORITE MEMORY: Because the organization is still so new, Silva says he is still enjoying every part of this adventure.

“This all began with a film, and film is a very powerful medium, so I would just say the most exciting part of all of this is the next milestone we reach.”

BIGGEST INSPIRATION: Although so many things inspire him today, Silva’s biggest inspiration is Phillip Johnson, architect of the New York State Pavilion.

“He [Johnson] was such a champion for the city and for arts and architecture, so I felt someone had to fight for his ailing work,” said Silva.

Silva finds that many people have a connection to these buildings and hopes that people will visit his Kickstarter page called “Modern Ruin: A World’s Fair Pavilion” and help in any way they can.

BIGGEST CHALLENGE: Silva and People for the Pavilion have had a lot of good luck since launching, but Silva feels the biggest challenge will be convincing the masses of the need to save the Pavilion and finding and funding an adaptive reuse that captures the imagination of people.



Public comes out to support restoring NY State Pavilion

| ctumola@queenscourier.com

Photos courtesy of People for the New York State Pavilion Facebook page

As the 1964-1965 New York World’s Fair is set to mark its 50th anniversary, the Parks Department and an advocacy group are asking the community to share its vision for one of the event’s iconic structures.

The New York State Pavilion, located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park, is in need of both external and internal repairs. In November, the Parks Department released plans to restore it, with cost estimates starting at $43 million. An option to tear it down would cost about $14 million.

The Parks Department gave three public presentations this past week on those plans.

“Nearly everyone who attended the visioning sessions favored preserving or restoring the Pavilion,” a Parks Department spokesperson said.

An online survey will be posted on the Department’s website until March 15 for those who weren’t able to come. The Parks Department will then meet with elected officials to discuss funding options.

People For the Pavilion, an advocacy group for the site, held its own event on Saturday, January 25 on the history of the structure and to get feedback on its future.

Close to 300 people attended, and were enthusiastic about saving the structure, People For the Pavilion member Matthew Silva said. The group would like to hold similar events in the future.

“We want to work hand in hand with the Parks Department in supporting their efforts,” said Silva.

One idea suggested at that meeting was to spruce up the Pavilion with paint, and possibly lighting, he said. “It would be a step in the right direction,” Silva said, adding smaller restorations would change its public perception and help it from deteriorating.

Silva has also created a film to help the effort. “MODERN RUIN: A World’s Fair Pavilion” chronicles the history of the structure from its debut at the World’s Fair to its years of neglect.

To complete post production, Silva needs $10,000 and has started a fundraiser through Kickstarter to reach that goal.

11-18-13 NYS Pavilion Borough Board Presentation

Courtesy of NYC Parks Department