New York Goes to the Fair | Building NYS

Tower Silhouettes


Governor Nelson D. Rockefeller drove the first pile in the 200-foot high observation tower of the New York State pavilion from which millions will have a sweeping view of the Fair's 646-acre site.

At the ceremonies held on October 9th, Lieutenant Governor Malcolm Wilson, who is chairman of the New York State Commission on the World's Fair, also revealed for the first time plans for the state's $5,000,000 installation.

Governor Nelson D. Rockefeller drives the first pile in the 200-foot high observation tower of the New York State pavilion. Left to right: President of the Fair Robert Moses, Mrs. Paul Peabody, Lt. Gov. Malcolm Wilson, Judge John Lomenzo, and Governor Rockefeller    Groundbreaking

Conceived as the "County Fair of the Future," the installation will combine the activity and the excitement of the traditional local fair with a dramatic and unique architectural treatment that envisions a world of tomorrow.

Consisting of three principal structures, the exhibit will include a theatre, a "Tent of Tomorrow," three observation towers, the tallest of which will be the highest point in the World's Fair grounds.

The "Tent of Tomorrow" will be the heart of the state exhibit. An elliptical shaped, 350-foot by 250-foot structure, whose outer support will be sixteen 100-foot tall, white concrete columns, the Tent will feature the world's largest suspension roof.

At the groundbreaking ceremony which was attended by various members of the New York State World's Fair Commission, Robert Moses, president of the Fair, greeted Governor Rockefeller and Lieutenant Governor Wilson and presented them with silver World's Fair Souvenir Medallions.

Following the presentation, governor Rockefeller, Lieutenant Governor Wilson, Mr. Moses and other members of the official group proceeded to the state's site where the three officials spoke briefly to the assembled workers and guests. Governor Rockefeller then tripped a valve, activating the pile driver, and the Fair's tallest structure was underway.

The Thompson-Starrett Construction company is building the "County Fair of the Future," which was designed by Philip Johnson.

Architect's rendering of the New York State pavilion being built at Flushing Meadow for the New York World's Fair, showing the theatre (circular building on lower left), the flag-bedecked "Tent of Tomorrow" and the three observation towers. Architect's rendering

Source: FAIR NEWS Official Bulletin of the New York World's Fair 1964/1965
Source: Vol. 1, No. 5 - October 16, 1962

Preparing the site

Construction on New York State Pavilion

Progress Report #6, September 12, 1962

Foundation work is underway for the New York State Pavilion

Progress Report #6, September 12, 1962 

Laying the foundations

Building NYS 

 The first four 100-foot white concrete columns for the Tent of Tomorrow are in place. There will be sixteen in all for the host state's pavilion.

FAIR NEWS, December 20, 1962

First four columns

Columns as viewed from the Westinghouse Site

Progress Report #7, January 24, 1963 

Column view from Westinghouse Monument

 Nicholson Company photograph


The Nicholson Company, one of the nation's leading engineer/contractor firms for almost 50 years, is used to the unusual challenges presented by the architect's design and the client's demands. And the New York State World's Fair Pavilion designed by Philip Johnson is no exception. In each of three stages, during the dead of winter, these mighty concrete columns -- reaching 100 feet in height -- were continuously poured in 5 days by the renowned Nicholson slip form method. The results: 16 attractively textured monolithic concrete structures.

Today Nicholson stands ready and able to provide outstanding services to architects and owners designing and building beautiful and utilitarian contemporary buildings. Speed and economy is assured by utilizing Nicholson's specialized techniques in the construction of the "cores" of high-rise buildings for containment of all services, including elevatoring and stairs.

For Nicholson there are no building problems -- only building challenges.

NEW YORK 20, N. Y. 
Source: Nicholson Company advertisement
Source: Architectural FORUM, June, 1963, Vol. 118, No. 6

Interior construction

Interior Construction on New York State

Progress Report #9, September 26, 1963

Aerial View of construction on New York State

Progress Report #9, September 26, 1963 

Aerial construction view

1964-65 WORLD'S FAIR
    November 18, 1963

The roof is supported by cables suspended from a steel truss compression ring to a steel tension ring in the center. The weight of the structural steel is 2,000 tons.

The shape of the Pavilion roof, steel truss, supporting columns, and promenade is an ellipse. The major axis of the ellipse at the steel truss is 305' and the minor axis is 225'.

There is an upper and lower suspended cable system composed of 48 cables for each system. The cable size varies from 1-11/16" to 2-1/4" diameter.

The compression ring is supported on 16 needle beams cantilevered from 16 concrete towers. Each tower is 98' high above the ground and was constructed by the slipform system. The outside diameter of each tower is 12' and the walls are 1' thick. The pile cap for each tower is supported on 50 wooden piles.

The roof is made of 1500 2-3/4" Kalwall structural plastic sandwich panels, consisting of a top and bottom skin of fiberglass on an aluminum grid system. The roof is translucent and is composed of 4 colors.


The promenade walkway will be 15' above the ground. The outer perimeter is elliptical in shape and the inner is a circle of 190' diameter.

There are 28 steel bents supporting the steel framed deck. The deck is reinforced concrete.



3 reinforced concrete Observation Towers

Top of Steel 
Height of tower No. 3 above ground 226' 
Height of tower No. 2 above ground 181' 
Height of tower No. 1 above ground 85' 

Each tower has an outside diameter of 12'-8" and the tower walls are 16" thick.

Structurally, the towers are prestressed by means of the Stressteel post-tensioning system.

Each Observation Tower platform is a steel platform 64' diameter suspended by cables from overhead cantilevered girders.

The foundation for the three towers is a large 7' thick pile cap supported by 207 steel pipe piles. The concrete work for the towers is by the slipform system, accomplished in three increments. The rate of slip is between 12" to 18" per hour.

The height of each platform above the ground is:

Platform No. 1 65' (Tower No. 1)
Platform No. 2  160' (Tower No. 2)
Platform No. 3 191' (Tower No. 3)
Platform No. 4 216' (Tower No. 3)


Outside Diameter 100'
Height 044'
Structure Reinforced Concrete
Finish Architectural Concrete
Vol. Concrete  1,600 C.Y.
Roof  Laminated Wood Roof
Piles 445
Partitions Concrete Block
Hung Ceiling - Basement Plaster
Hung Ceiling - Main Room 1" Sprayed Acoustic Asbestos
Circular (360o) Picture Screen 80' Diameter - 20' High
Wood Treatment Red Oak
Air Conditioned Theater  

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