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Timeline of Events

A Proposed Air & Space Museum for Flushing Meadows

A Final Project Update

Timeline of Events


The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation commissions an engineering report from Gieger Engineers on the structural stability of the NY State Pavilion.Gieger's final report states that the pavilion is in a state of deterioration such that repairs would be required if occupancy is to be allowed. They determine that the pile foundations are sufficient to support the facility but will be insufficient with additional pile deterioration. They conclude that if an immediate repair of the deteriorated portion of the pile foundation is impractical, then the structure must be inspected on an every six month basis to assure that no significant settlement has occurred.


The New York City Department of Parks & Recreation commissions a study for the structural stabilization of the NY State Pavilion from John Ciardullo Associates Architects/Planners. Their final report says that, due to the continued rot of the support wood piles, immediate action must be taken to secure the Tent of Tomorrow from further deterioration and collapse. They state that the threat of collapse exists, as does damage to the adjacent Theaterama and the public and recommend that in the best interest of the City and for the safety of the general public, an emergency contract for either stabilization or demolition of the Tent of Tomorrow be issued forthwith. Ciardullo Associates conclude "Apart from the 'Theaterama,' the NYS Pavilion is in a state of gross deterioration. It requires immediate stabilization to maintain its mere existence, let alone enable future use."


Dan Doctoroff’s NYC2012 bid committee files, along with eight other cities, to have New York City be the U.S. candidate for the 2012 Olympic Games.


December 28 Phoenix, Arizona aviation executive Charles Aybar and Manhattan architect Frankie Campione connect through the online website Aybar has an idea to convert the derelict NY State Pavilion from the 1964/1965 New York World's Fair into an Air & Space Museum. Campione, aware of the pavilion's deterioration, decides to lend his support and the talents of his architectural firm, CREATE Architecture Planning and Design, to the idea.


January - May Throughout the winter and early spring of 2001, Aybar & Campione confer via telephone to develop the Air & Space Museum concept. They contact the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation (DP&R) and Assistant Parks Commissioner for Queens Estelle Cooper, who also serves as Commissioner of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park where the pavilion is located. She is cordial and initially enthusiastic toward their idea for restoration and reuse of the pavilion and allows Campione access to the site along with Edwin Kelly II, Vice President of Meyer Consulting Engineers Corporation (MCE) of Rockville, Maryland. MCE is a nationally known design & inspection consulting firm that Campione has worked with on past architectural projects and he enlists their help to study the pavilion's problems and to come up with a solution for stabilization. Assistant Commissioner Cooper allows access to DP&R personnel who, in turn, provide Aybar & Campione with architectural plans for the pavilion and past studies commissioned by the DP&R in 1992 and 1996 that show the structural condition of the NY State Pavilion.
May 14 A story and pictures of proposed 2012 Olympic venues appears in the New York Times The Olympic Games would have a major impact on Flushing Meadows-Corona Park with the park hosting the White Water Rafting Course at the former World's Fair Pool of Industry along with a major restructuring of Meadow and Willow Lakes to become the Olympic Rowing Basin. The NY State Pavilion appears in conceptual drawings but no plans for stabilization, restoration or reuse are announced in connection with the Olympic construction.
May 29 Campione & Aybar meet face-to-face for the first time at the offices of CREATE. Also present are multi-media specialist David Whitworth, Marc Williams, Craig Bavaro and Bill Young. Campione unveils conceptual drawings and a multi-media presentation on the project. Campione states that "the team" should go with the Air & Space Museum concept because it has "the potential to capture the most public and investor attention and support. However, everyone should realize that the idea may not be able to be sold and we must be willing to embrace other ideas. Above all, the focus should be to stabilize the pavilion first to prevent structural collapse and/or demolition and then determine a reuse after stabilization is completed -- be it an Air & Space Museum or some other concept."
June 01 First public announcement of the project and concept at the "Saturday in the Park" gathering of World's Fair enthusiasts in Queens, NY.
June 01 First presentation of the proposal with conceptual drawings and multi-media program to Assistant Parks Commissioner Estelle Cooper.
June 14 Campione presents the proposal with conceptual drawings and multi-media program to the office of Queens Borough President, Claire Schulman.
August 10 Aybar sends a letter asking for immediate attention to the stabilization issue to Queens Borough Vice-President Peter Magnani reminding him that MCE had some "strong words to say about the pavilion" and asks that the city act fast. He also vents his frustration to the team reiterating his fear that the pavilion will collapse, and his amazement that the city and the DP&R have not taken their own engineering studies seriously.
August 17 Assistant Parks Commissioner Cooper tells Aybar in a telephone conversation that the DP&R has no money to address stabilization and they are waiting for Schulman's office to address the issue.
August 21 Aybar & Campione receive a faxed letter, dated August 20, 2001, from Queens Borough President Claire Schulman thanking them for their presentation and commending them for their proposal. She states "the cost of such a proposal and the time-frame for the design and construction prohibits my office from supporting this proposal at this time." She goes on to say, "I continue to share your concerns on the foundation and stability of the structure and, to that end, I have composed a letter to Henry Stern Commissioner, New York City Depart Of Parks and Recreation (copy attached) requesting his agency provide an updated evaluation of the structure to ensure safety and stability of the structure. "
August 21

Campione & Aybar receive a copy of a letter that Queens Borough President Claire Schulman sends to NY City Parks Commissioner Henry Stern. Dated August 20, 2001, the letter states,

"As you are aware, we were recently presented with a proposal to utilize the NYS Pavilion as an Air and Space Museum. The presentation was done by Dr. Charles Aybar and Mr. Frankie Campione of CREATE Architects.

During the preparation stage of this proposal Dr. Aybar enlisted the services of Meyer Consulting Engineers Corporation to assess the structural integrity of the building and to determine its suitability for future use as a museum.

The consultant reviewed the two previous reports by John Ciardullo Associate (1996) and Gieger Engineers (1992) and, in conjunction with their own inspection, has strongly recommended that some action be taken immediately to prevent a potential catastrophic collapse of the structure.

The proximity of the Theater in the Park to the deteriorating Tent of the Future
[sic] is of the utmost concern since it is a heavily used facility which houses hundreds of people for the many shows and performances held there on a regular basis.

This office feels that we should heed this latest warning and that the appropriate steps be taken to either preserve the structure by addressing the deteriorating pile situation and other related structural components or entirely demolish the structure to avert a potential disaster. "

August 21 Aybar contacts Robert Yamuder of the Queens Borough President's Office to thank him for faxing the letter from President Schulman. Yamuder tells him that he and Campione are "still in the window of future opportunity to have the building rehabilitated. Schulman has not closed the window of opportunity, but is requiring us to make our proposal available to the new administration and to budget us for consideration in Fiscal Year 2003. She and her staff really like our idea. This phase will entail the funding of the study and design and construction phase requirement. He said we should request 10% of total project costs and the following two years request further payment for the total package."
August 21 Estelle Cooper tells Aybar in a telephone conversation that their proposal failed to address the parking situation at Flushing Meadows and that they cannot take up any more park space for that purpose. She also suggested he call NY City Parks Commissioner Stern directly to talk about stabilization.
August 22 Aybar speaks with an angry Parks Commissioner Henry Stern via telephone. Commissioner Stern tells him that he plans to put into his next budget funds sufficient to demolish the Tent of Tomorrow.
August 26 The New York Times publishes an article titled "A Queens Park's Past Shapes its Future." In the article, NY City DP&R Commissioner Stern goes on record as saying of the NY State Pavilion, "It's too good to tear down but not good enough to spend $20 million on to restore. So it remains.''
August 28 In a telephone call from Tom Compana, an engineer with the Queens Borough President's Office, Aybar is told that Commissioner Stern has not formally contacted Schulman about his decision to raze the NY State Pavilion. Schulman would have to authorize any such move. He also tells Aybar that he would like Schulman to authorize an immediate radar/sonar scope of the building's foundation to see where the steel piles are laid that were added at the time of the pavilion's construction to assist the wood piles in stabilizing the structure's massive columns. Aybar asks about the Queens Theater in the Park structure, which is a part of the original NY State Pavilion construction, and whether that building had any work done during its renovation to address its foundation. The answer is "no."
August 29 Campione meets Queens Borough Presidential candidate Helen Marshall at a political fund raiser. He briefs Marshall on the Air & Space Museum proposal and she tells him that her daughter knows the head of NASA. She advises Campione & Aybar to contact NASA and get their involvement and says that NASA should be made aware that Frankie "just met 'Donna Marshall's mom' and she says we should get in touch. " Marshall believes money will be an issue but feels that road could be crossed when they got there. She calls the proposal "Queens' own Rose Pavilion," referring to the new addition to the Natural History Museum which is a modern glass box. Campione also informs her that they were ready to start soliciting donations but would not be in a position while Henry Stern is quoting that the building will be torn down.
August 30 Campione and Aybar issue the project's first Press Release titled "WORLD'S FAIR PROPOSED AIR MUSEUM FLIES HIGH." The release lays out the Air & Space Museum proposal and publicly questions the stability of the NY State Pavilion's foundation based on the copies of the DP&R studies commissioned in 1992 and 1996. Queens Borough newspapers follow up with stories on their proposal.
August 30 Campione meets with Alan Ritchie, business partner to the famed designer of the NY State Pavilion, Philip Johnson, at the Johnson/Ritchie Associates Architects offices in Manhattan. The meeting lasts about an hour during which the architectural renderings and multi-media presentation are shown. Ritchie keeps the presentation boards and audio-visual material to show Philip Johnson the following morning.
August 31 In a telephone call from New York City Parks Engineer John Natoli, Aybar is told that Commissioner Stern asked Natoli to respond to Schulman's letter of August 20, 2001. Natoli states that he wants to talk further about MCE's letter and that he is going to contact Edwin Kelly to see what the expenses and new methods are to stabilize the pavilion. Natoli states that Stern spoke very highly of Campione & Aybar.
September 5 In a telephone call from John Natoli, who is on site at the NY State Pavilion, Aybar is told that he wants to perform some preliminary excavation work underneath the pavilion to check on the piles and foundation. Natoli says, "I would hate to tear this building down; after all, it is a landmark. Let us see what we can do."
September 6 The Queens Chronicle publishes an article titled "Plans For Aerospace Museum Up In The Air At Flushing Meadows" In response to Aybar & Campione's August 30th Press Release questioning the pavilion's structural integrity, Commissioner Stern goes on record to say, "No one has the money to fix it up ... [a]nd there is no desire for another museum or cultural institution in the park. That building will be standing longer than I will.” He goes on to call Aybar "a promoter who has his own agenda for the site" and says that he would like money allocated to demolish the Tent of Tomorrow, but that the Towers have some "scenic aesthetic design going for them." Assistant Park Commissioner Estelle Cooper confirms that she met with Aybar and told him that the agency does not have the funds to do major stabilization work at this time. She goes on record emphasizing that the pavilion is not in danger saying, “We check it all the time. If it was in imminent danger, we’d take care of it.” Jeff Rosenstock, executive director of the Queens Theater in the Park, states that he believes Aybar is seeking publicity for his venture as a way to promote his project and that his allegations were both false and troublesome saying, "I work here every day and bring my children. I have no fear that the pavilion will collapse. If there had been a problem with the structure, we would not have been allowed to renovate ... [the Queens Theater building].” Rosenstock calls the proposal “a half-baked plan,” alleges that because Aybar received no special treatment when he came to Flushing Meadows, "he was tired of waiting and went public with his plan because he didn’t feel we offered him enough cooperation." In the article, Rosenstock goes on to say , “The Parks Department studies show that the open pavilion area is slowly deteriorating because of wood pilings and that the two towers are safer because they have steel pilings.”
September 10 Campione receives a favorable response from Johnson/Ritchie Architects. Mr. Ritchie says he and Philip Johnson spoke collectively at length about the project and that Mr. Johnson was excited by Campione & Aybar's efforts. At one point Mr. Ritchie notes that Mr. Johnson couldn't believe what Campione & Aybar had done to the building and commented that it "deserved saving on par with the Eero Saarinen designed TWA Terminal at Kennedy Airport," which Mr. Johnson had recently come forward as a proponent to save. Campione is told that Mr. Ritchie will put together a quote on the Johnson/Ritchie Architects approval of the project. Campione informs him he would like to "walk down the aisle" with him on this and says that the Johnson/Ritchie firm brings considerable clout to their efforts. Mr. Ritchie seems excited and welcomes Campione & Aybar back .
September 10 Campione & Aybar issue the project's second Press Release titled "AIR & SPACE MUSEUM BACKERS WANT HARMONY NOT DISCORD" following up on the comments of DP&R officials to the press.
September 11 Two airliners are intentionally crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Center in lower Manhattan. The subsequent collapse of the structures kills more than 3,000 people and causes untold financial devastation to New York City and the aviation industry as a whole.
September 17 Campione retrieves the story boards for the presentation from the Johnson/Ritchie offices in Manhattan and briefly chats with Alan Ritchie who reiterates that Mr. Johnson was very interested and excited about the project but they did not have a chance to formulate anything formal regarding an endorsement.
September 21 World's Fair enthusiast Bruce Mentone passes along some information from the firm of Purdy & Henderson, dated September 11, 1964, regarding the foundations of the NY State Pavilion that states, "Grade slab supported on soil. Main tower columns and mezzanine carried on 20 ton untreated woodpiles and partially on 100-ton steel pipe piles (driven as remedials for deficient wood piles). Piles cut off from 8 to 14 feet above ground water. Towers supported by 50 ton steel pipe piles."
September 28 Campione meets with MCE and DP&R engineers at the NY State Pavilion site. Ed Kelly of MCE, Mike Cowell of Geo Structures and geo technical engineer Jules Reese of Independent Consultants & Engineers walk the DP&R engineers through the three scenarios of their plan to correct the stabilization problems. They concentrate only on the 16 columns around the Tent of Tomorrow. Chief of Construction John Natoli listens and, after just shy of two hours, MCE "let Parks do the math of how we propose to do the stabilization for about $2.5 million less than the report from '96." Natoli is intrigued and happy at the same time. He had not seen the proposal for the museum but was aware of it. Campione had brought along the renderings to show at the end of the presentation. Natoli and some of his associates note that Campione & Aybar should keep in touch with Peter Magnani (Queens Borough President's Office.)
October 12 Aybar speaks with Robert Yamuder of the Queens Borough President's Office. Mr. Yamuder tells him that a Request for Proposal (RFP) will be coming out "any day now" from the DP&R. for "foundation evaluation and scope of work" regarding the NY State Pavilion. Yamuder didn't know the details but eluded it included stabilization. He tells Aybar that if they need help with the process to contact his office. Mr. Yamuder also says that a "Letter of Request" needs to be drafted and addressed to the Honorable Claire Schulman, Borough President of Queens, requesting that they come back to present their proposal again in February 2002 to obtain Borough President Money. The letter must specify that they have already done this twice this year but because they missed the funding period they are asking to once again give the proposal.
October 15 Campione & Aybar submit a letter to the Borough President Schulman that says, "We would like to proceed ahead with our proposal. Please place our project on the agenda for further discussion in the month of February 2002, whereas we desire to re-present the concept to the newly appointed members of your office, including Borough President, for review and funding. The discretionary funds allotted to your office for such projects are what we are seeking over the next five years since our project will involve several different phases to completion."
October 15 Campione & Aybar receive a letter of endorsement from Johnson/Ritchie Associates Architects that says, "Mr. Johnson and I were delighted to hear that your proposal for the stabilization and adaptive reuse of the New York State Pavilion has been receiving favorable responses from the Parks Department and Queens Borough President Helen Marshall. We would like to confirm our enthusiasm and endorsement of the scheme and welcome the thought that the State Pavilion designed by our office will be preserved for future generations. We hope you will look to us to work with you on this project and assure you of our continued support."
October 19 Campione speaks with the DP&R's Department of Revenue about the project being considered Concessions rather than the approach they were taking. John Natoli had steered them in this direction. Concessions funding would include stabilization as part of the scope but direct the RFP towards Campione & Aybar. They felt at the Department of Revenue that it was time Campione & Aybar met with them.
October 21 Campione & Aybar issue the project's third Press Release titled "RENOWN ARCHITECTS PHILIP JOHNSON AND ALAN RITCHIE ENDORSE WORLD'S FAIR PAVILION PROPOSAL"
November 6 Helen Marshall is elected Queens Borough President.
December 21 New York City Parks Commissioner Henry Stern announces his retirement.


January 24 On the advice of Robert Yamuder, Administrative Project Manager for the City of New York, Campione once again puts in writing a request for a formal presentation of the proposal to the new Borough President, Helen Marshall.
January 24 Campione speaks with Assistant Commissioner Cooper via telephone and she again states that she does not want a museum but that she would appreciate Campione & Aybar's assistance to stabilize the structure. She also notes "they" are taking a 25% funding cut and have no money. Campione reiterates to "give us the green light to fund raise and that you will allow us to stabilize and we will do just that. A million dollars is not that tough to raise."
January 25 Adrian Benepe is appointed Commissioner of the New York City Department of Parks & Recreation by newly elected mayor, Michael Bloomberg.
January 28 Campione & Aybar issue the project's fourth Press Release titled "AIR & SPACE MUSEUM PROPONENT ASKS NEW YORKERS TO "DREAM BIG" in response to those who might think that such a massive undertaking as an Air & Space Museum is now impossible in light of the terrorist attacks of 9/11/2001.
March 19 Campione presents the Air & Space Museum proposal to Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and her assembled staff, including Assistant Parks Commissioner Cooper and Thomas Campagana. The meeting goes well in Campione's estimate. Ms. Marshall liked the audio-visual and allowed Campione and Ed Kelly of MCE to not only explain the museum concept but also how the NY State Pavilion could be stabilized for 1/3 - 1/4 of the proposed cost from the DP&R's 1996 stabilization study. Queens Borough officials asked that he follow up the meeting with written minutes and proof of the findings from the reports of 1992 and 1996. Campione alerts them to the "alarmists state" of the reports from '92 and '96 and that while understanding the building is visually inspected every six months, "when they finally see fault visually it will then be too late." Commissioner Cooper states, "If you raise the million dollars for stabilization we will give you a permit tomorrow." Campione also learns that after his structural meeting with DP&R engineers in the autumn of 2001, a contract was to go out on the stabilization efforts. It turns out the contract has been "lost." Apparently another letter was written from the Borough President's office to the Parks Department regarding their concerns which were brought to light via all the meetings of 2001 concerning the condition of the structure. Parks Commissioner Henry Stern sent a return letter addressing the situation and "shrugging off " the eminent danger and collapse of the structure. Campione let everyone know that he found Stern's concerns to be out of line. The Air & Space Museum proposal was "not increasing the area of the structure and eating more park space, it was not cutting down any trees and, with regard to parking, it is already insufficient and will be more so with the impending expansion of the other two museums in the Park." The meeting lasted over an hour. Campione again reiterated, "If you don't like the museum let us know, we still want to save the pavilion. We'll stabilize, paint it yellow and walk away."
March 20 Campione & Aybar begin discussions on creating a Not-for-Profit Organization (NPO) to continue forward with the museum proposal.
March 27 Campione & Aybar formally request a meeting with New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg. The request is not granted and the letter is forwarded to Adrian Benepe.
March 28 Campione receives a letter from Bonnie McDonald, a Cornell Masters Candidate in
Historic Preservation who is working on her thesis on the preservation of the remaining
structures from the 1962 Seattle World's Fair and the 1964-65 New York World's Fair. She tells him of a letter she has discovered in the World's Fair Corporation files at the New York Public Library from Robert Moses to Malcolm Wilson, then Lieutenant Governor of New York, dated January 21, 1964 that reads, "There was considerable difficulty in constructing the foundations of the New York State building. The original wood pile clusters were so unsatisfactory for even temporary use that our engineers insisted that additional longer piles, steel instead of wood, be driven to assure safety." The letter was in regard to Wilson's request to keep the pavilion after the Fair which Moses did not want to do.
April 29 Aybar sends a letter to Queens Borough President Helen Marshall, asking that she announce her support for the proposal so that Campione & Aybar can move forward with appropriate fund raising opportunities and find ways in assisting the City with the initial expense of stabilization, which is phase one of the project. He reminds her that there are no other parties, in the past and present, that have such a drive and affection with an idea for the pavilion and says "If anyone can get this project moving, it will involve all of us as one team."
July 15 Campione is contacted by Amy Freitag, newly appointed Deputy Commissioner of Capital Projects for the New York City DP&R -- a post that had been unfilled for the previous five years. Ms. Freitag is an alumni of the University of Pennsylvania and her specialty is Historic Preservation. She requests Campione to present the Air & Space Museum proposal to her. Campione agrees to do so.
August 27 Campione presents the proposal to Deputy Commissioner Freitag and Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe. Assistant Parks Commissioner Estelle Cooper is also in attendance along with the engineering staff from the DP&R. Commissioner Benepe asks if Aybar & Campione have the money to back the project -- the $1 to $2 million for the stabilization and the backing from museums for the Air & Space Museum. Campione notes that the stabilization costs could be absorbed in the overall project budget if they were given a green light to begin fund raising but also notes that they have made a strong point on numerous occasions that the current state of the structure was a Parks Department issue and that they had already "brought to the table methods to do the stabilization at a substantially lower cost than previous estimates." He notes that he and Charles Aybar are not alarmists, but that the reports they are using to support stabilization were from the DP&R's own commissioned reports done in 1992 and 1996. He informs Benepe and the audience of the details of their structural stability proposal and those that attend the meeting acknowledge that the concept is deemed viable and a good approach to stabilization of the Tent of Tomorrow. When questioned more about the money and whether they had backing, Campione responds by noting that they cannot pursue a partnership with a national museum or begin fund raising until the Parks Department gives them a green light to begin fund raising. Benepe believes that the best way to go would be in a partnership with a successful museum and at one point suggests the Museum of Natural History. Lastly, Ms. Freitag suggests giving Campione & Aybar "developer rights" for 24 - 36 months to secure the project and funding. Commissioner Benepe indicates that they will consider the project further and will review the proposal. He says given his options he would much rather save the pavilion and needs to figure out whether the project could be "sole sourced to us or if it had to be put out to RFP."
October 11 Aybar speaks with Amy Freitag who says Commissioner Benepe agrees the best solution for the pavilion is the Air & Space Museum proposal and that he wants to see it move along. She indicates that that the Parks Department does not have any money for the stabilization process "or anything else" and Campione & Aybar would have to raise money accordingly. She adds that the Parks Department would assist them to move the project along and that Campione should contact her for another meeting to get things rolling. Aybar feels they must get a "Letter of Intent" and some sort of commitment in writing that states that the DP&R believes the project is feasible and that Campione & Aybar have their permission to proceed. With a letter of commitment in hand, Campione & Aybar can form an NPO and start raising funds. For his part Campione is pessimistic. He wonders to Aybar if the Parks Department is playing games with them -- giving them a green light to fail and then take their concept to another developer. He also feels that the Parks Department must at least already have in their possession matching funds for the stabilization. At the same time, he is shocked and relieved that after two years of effort they appear to be on the doorstep of making the project a reality.
November 11 Campione approaches Aybar with an idea to utilize the NY State Pavilion should the 2012 Olympics be staged in New York City. Campione suggests it could become a place where people could go to see progress, models, great moments in Olympic history etc. He asks Aybar if, once they've secured things with Parks, he should reach out to the 2012 Olympics Committee thinking that they could help their cause.
November 13 After a month of inaction from the Parks Department, Campione receives a request from Bill Gotthelf of the DP&R requesting images of the Air & Space Museum proposal to present to the Municipal Arts Society. Campione tells him emphatically that he and Aybar are very close to going public with the fact that the Parks Department has sat on their concept for two years and are preventing them from presenting it to anyone else because they have, and continue to attempt to, do things at "Parks pace" and goes on to express his frustration at how slowly the Parks Department moves! Gotthelf responds "he's there and he understood." He also tells Campione that "he would convey our concerns and comments but that he didn't have the answers I needed."
November 18 Aybar addresses a letter to Mr. Gotthelf of the Parks Department that states, "As of today, Mr. Campione and I have not received our requested 'Letter of Intent 'or any stated acceptance from your department of our proposal. Due to this, funding by other private entities is on hold, and has for the majority stopped further fund raising activities. It is in the City's best interest to move on with this project, as it has already been two years in a quandary, with no directive whatsoever. Further, the structure is deteriorating rapidly, since its neglect for over 35 years. I also understand that you have been in contact with the Municipal Arts Society and have requested from Mr. Campione official renderings of the proposal. If you state when we can receive your approval (on our proposal) and the reasoning behind the MAS referral, we would be delighted to assist you further. I would appreciate if you can take the next step forward with this scenario and give us some direction from your department."
November The US Olympic Committee selects New York City as its 2012 bid city.
December 18 The DP&R gives Aybar & Campione a verbal agreement that they will give them three years to attempt to raise the funds for the stabilization, restoration and reuse of the NY State Pavilion as an Air & Space Museum.


January 20 Campione reaches out to Pat Dolan, a civic leader who has recently formed the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park Conservancy group, a grass-roots effort by local citizens to influence decisions regarding the park. He asks to be present at the next meeting of the Conservancy and Ms. Dolan agrees with the qualifier that the meeting is "not an opportunity to put forward individual points of view or group's positions on projects around the park."
February 04 Campione attends his first meeting of the Flushing Meadows Park Conservancy. Also in attendance are Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and Assistant Parks Commissioner Estelle Cooper. The meeting is a reception intended to introduce the Conservancy and its founders to people whose only knowledge of the Park is what they see as they pass on their way to Kennedy airport. Campione offers his services as a resource to the Conservancy and apologizes for not being more active. Ms. Dolan invites him to their next meeting. She will become a supporter and sounding board for Campione & Aybar in the near future.
April 02 Campione expresses his frustration to Aybar that after over four months they have not received any written agreement or "Letter of Intent" from the Parks Department regarding the "loan" of the pavilion to Aybar & Campione for a 3-year time period. Without such a document it is Campione & Aybar's fear that, should a catastrophic failure of the structure occur while the building is in their possession, the Parks Department could hold them liable for personal and property damages resulting from the collapse. Campione & Aybar agree that nothing can officially be done without a legal agreement between the Parks Department and the project.
April 19 Campione enlists the aid of Philadelphia developer Dan Rubin to assist him in developing an NPO and to advise on potential board of director members from the powerful developer trades.
May 09 Campione & Aybar begin the legal steps necessary to create an NPO for the project. All legal bills will be paid for by Campione until the project is up and running.
June 10 Campione speaks with Deputy Parks Commissioner Freitag. She tells Campione they are waiting "patiently and expectantly" for Campione & Aybar's next move. She also tells him that they are working with the University of Pennsylvania to save and restore the Texaco terrazzo floor of the NY State Pavilion.
June 13

Campione suggest they develop their own "Letter of Intent" in lieu of the Parks Department's failure to provide one. He has these thoughts toward the contents of the letter:

Stabilization Efforts:

  1. It should include the exclusive right to raise money through a not-for-profit organization to stabilize the existing conditions of the pavilion and hire the necessary professionals to do so.
  2. We do not expect parks to put the project out for RFP nor solicit other professionals in the stabilization efforts as this will be done through the not-for-profit organization.
  3. We will have the exclusive right to advertise and post contributors on the structure during the stabilization efforts.
  4. Parks Department is responsible for the structure and its upkeep until such time that contractors actually occupy the site to perform the reconstruction efforts (concern being that any damage that occurs during the two to three years to raise the money shall not be our responsibility, including but not limited to collapse).
  5. All efforts to act upon the building must be coordinated through the not-for-profit organization including actions by the Parks Dept. (concern being that Parks has had interest from University of Pennsylvania Archeology Department to restore the terrazzo Texaco map. While the efforts and attention is appreciated, there is a detrimental domino effect if that is allowed to occur prior to stabilization, i.e. the floor would have to be ripped up anyway to sink the new piles to support the existing columns.)
  6. Essentially the not-for-profit organization is the controlling entity of the outcome of the structure for three - five years
  7. We also want the right to have interim functions at the facility. This may not fall under stabilization but perhaps somewhere between stabilization and adaptive reuse (Do we want to work with the 2012 committee and perhaps use the space to showcase the forthcoming Olympic bid?)

Adaptive Reuse:

  1. The not-for-profit is allowed to hire any for profit organizations to further investigate and develop the property in a museum type facility. (make sure we don't lock into something we can't deliver - maybe this needs to be broader not just a museum)
  2. The idea here is that the board of directors for the not-for-profit hires a development team (most likely made up of a number of the same founding members) who will function as a fee developer to find an end user, hire the design team, coordinate the bid and construction process and then turn over the project to a new end user. Or do we want to stay in the picture as tenant to parks and sublet essentially to the museum entity? I think there is much greater risk in that and perhaps this is not the place for that.
  3. Lastly if the stabilization efforts go as planned, and then parks wants us to work with the Olympics 2012 committee, the not-for-profit still retains the right to be the fee developer and does not lose control over the project (i.e. "thanks for raising money to stabilize our 35 year old mistake now we don't need you anymore")It should also be understood should we work with the 2012 committee or allow them interim tenancy that the Olympic committee should turn the premises over to our entity after the Olympics are complete, assuming our entity made a capital investment in the improvements.
  4. We will need to be able to encumber the facility with debt for a maximum of the
    duration of our agreement. If we are successful in raising the capital and stabilize the facility this should trigger a longer lease life, say another 10 yrs. to raise the funds to restore the project in its entirety. If we're successful with this venture we should go for another 50 yrs. In other words, the (our) entity is putting up all the risk capital associated with this building. If successful the entity should be rewarded. If the city opposes this logic than they should donate monies to the remediation and offer tax abatements, etc., thereby lowering the NPO's risk.
  5. We want exclusive rights to the pavilion for at least 5 years (parks has been kicking around three) for the stabilization without the adaptive re-use phase. It
    could take 2 ½ years to secure the monies and we may have just started the physical construction work and the term ends. The exclusive rights should include not only usage of the pavilion, but copyright and all other associated involvement, including naming rights. We need to be able to use the premises for any legal use and not lock into a museum.
July 10 Campione & Aybar make contact with Nick Peterson of the NYC 2012 Olympics Organizing Committee and a presentation to his organization is scheduled for August 30th. Peterson is very interested in using the NY State Pavilion as one of the "live" sites to be set up throughout the five Boroughs during the Olympics to to exhibit jumbo trons, trade tents, parties etc., containing sponsor pavilions and booths that are temporary in nature. The pavilion would revert back to Campione & Aybar after that. He tells them that they too do not have money for the stabilization of the existing structure.
August 14 Campione retains the legal firm of Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP (Kramer Levin) to represent the Air & Space Museum project. Meeting with with Michael Sillerman, James Power and Angela Works of Kramer Levin he learns that Kramer Levin also represents the Olympics 2012 Organization pro bono. He is cautioned that he is "undertaking a project with a lot of landmines." They advise him that using the restoration as advertising for corporate sponsors will be a tough sell because the Parks Department, and in particular Queens, was instrumental in passing recent zoning laws prohibiting advertising within 200 feet of park property. The attorneys encourage him to pursue his idea of a partnership with NYC 2012 and the Olympics committee as an avenue toward stabilization and interim use until the museum can be created. They believe that teaming with the Olympics 2012 Organization will be "more palatable" to Parks than private sponsors and advertising. Campione submits to them his proposed "Letter of Intent" and asks them to pursue this with the DP&R officials.
August 30 Campione presents the stabilization and reuse proposal to Alexander Garvin, Managing Director of Planning for the NYC 2012 Organization.
September 19 Attorneys from Kramer Levin urge Campione to push the Olympics Organization to committing. They believe it's the best shot they have with the Parks Department. They advise constructing a letter such that Campione & Aybar can suggest to them using NYC 2012 seed money to fund a temporary museum or exhibit to promote the history of the Olympics or perhaps even history of New York sports and that they take that back to the Parks Department as an interim use between stabilization and the Olympics in 2012.
September 30

In a letter addressed to Alexander Garvin of the NYC 2012 Committee, Campione & Aybar propose that NYC 2012 and CREATE work together to use the NY State Pavilion initially as an interim location for publicity and public awareness of NYC 2012 and later as a location for Olympics activity. More specifically, with their cooperation, Campione & Aybar ask to develop a terms letter to the Department of Parks and Recreation providing for four phases of use for the Pavilion:

  1. Stabilization of existing conditions.
  2. Interim use a pavilion providing public information about the efforts of NYC 2012 at Flushing Meadows Corona Park, along with a history of the Olympics and sports in the New York area.
  3. Use of the Pavilion by NYC 2012 during the Olympics.
  4. Use of the Pavilion as a world class museum concentrating on athletics in New York, New York as a world city (addressing the Pavilion's World's Fair and Olympics legacy), or possible aerospace museum.

Upon agreement with the Parks Department, Campione & Aybar would offer to provide the design and construction services that NYC 2012 would require for phases 2 and 3, which would allow all phases of the stabilization and adaptive reuse already underway by CREATE to be fully coordinated. They note that their interest in the project is specifically driven by the following considerations:

  • The Pavilion should be stabilized and reused because it holds a landmark place in the City of New York and in the Borough of Queens. It is known world-wide and serves as an unofficial symbol of New York as a world city.
  • The Pavilion is an important example of the modern architecture movement and of the work of famed architect Philip Johnson. Within the past year the Pavilion has been featured on the cover of two significant architectural books, including one on the works of Philip Johnson.
  • Philip Johnson and his partner Alan Ritchie have publicly supported CREATE's plan for stabilization and adaptive reuse.
  • There is no other location in the City and no other existing building that is more suited to these short and long term uses.

The attorneys advise stressing an end use for the NY State Pavilion as an Athletics Museum or one that focuses on New York as a World Class City, which would be more likely to pique the interest of the NYC 2012 members over an air & space museum. They advise that the pavilion would still be Campione & Aybar's to control as fee developer unless NYC 2012 comes up with an end user /tenant or foots the bill for the whole thing, which seems unlikely.

November 11 In a telephone call to Kramer Levin, Campione bluntly expresses his frustration with them. He tells him that he is unhappy that they've wasted weeks waiting for a comment from the Olympics and that they've had no dialogue with the Parks Department either. He lets them know he expects them to "help us move mountains or don't be a part of our team." He leaves the ball in their court to either get funds allocated from NYC 2012's Garvin, if he plans on taking over the NY State Pavilion at any point and, if not, to structure a terms letter with the DP&R that leaves the pavilion in their hands with or without the Olympics should it come to town.
November 18 The Parks Department of New York City announces a World's Fair Anniversary Gala to commemorate the two New York World's Fairs and to celebrate the park that hosted them, Flushing Meadows Corona Park. The event is scheduled to be held on April 15, 2004 at Terrace on the Park. Time Warner will be publicizing the event on NY 1, and all local newspapers will run printed announcements. All proceeds from the event will be used to initiate the preservation of the New York State Pavilion, the tallest pavilion at the 1964 World's Fair and the greatest unrestored monument to Flushing Meadows Corona Park's World's Fair legacy. The event is being co-sponsored by a previously unknown Flushing Meadows support organization called Unisphere, Inc.
November 18 In a letter addressed to Amy Freitag, Aybar reminds her that he and Campione have been pushing for the preservation and rehabilitation of the NY State Pavilion for nearly three years. Working with her office, Assistant Parks Commissioner Estelle Cooper and the Borough President's Office (Queens) for this period, things had progressed at a snail's pace; not because of lack of interest but due to lack of funding available from the City of New York. He reiterates that everyone agrees that the concept for the stabilization and, importantly, the reuse of the pavilion, will require private funds to move forward and they are looking at a window of opportunity to secure these funds immediately and have developed a terms paper for Park's review from their attorneys. He bluntly states he is alarmed by the recent organized event announced by the Parks Department to raise funds in April 2004 for the restoration of the NY State Pavilion. He asks her, "why were we not made aware of this and what plans does parks actually have for the pavilion? Further, how are we included in this plan?" Aybar concludes by saying, "After we have spent tens of thousands of personal dollars on research and engineering to move our quest forward with your department, an explanation is mandatory."
November 18 In a email addressed to Kramer Levin attorneys Angela Works and James Powers, Campione expresses his concerned that this event sponsored by the Parks Department shows that they are going to use their stabilization and reuse ideas and give them nothing in return. He believes they are about to say that they have other plans for the pavilion even though Campione & Aybar's push has caused the Parks Department to take action. He goes on to demand that, as their council, they expedite some responses from Parks and work toward a mutual satisfaction for all parties and "to ensure that the delays to date by Kramer Levin to contact the Parks Department as originally discussed have not caused the Parks Department to look elsewhere for assistance." He says, "We have not come this far to lose the project. We are expecting Kramer Levin to move forward expeditiously on this matter."
November 18 In a telephone conversation with Assistant Parks Commissioner Cooper, Campione informs her that both he and Aybar are equally upset that this event is going on without them and he learns from her that "Save the Date" cards advertising the 40th Anniversary Gala just went out that day. Ms. Cooper tells him she is the event organizer and she would put Campione on the mailing list. She says it is "her park and she didn't have to tell [them] what she was doing." Campione responds that, "in the spirit of playing in the same sandbox it would have been nice since we have invested three years in the stabilization effort and a considerable sum of money for studies and attorney fees."
November 20 Campione learns through Kramer Levin that Unisphere, Inc. expects to raise a half million to a million dollars from a banner advertising campaign, whereby Unisphere, Inc. will allow corporate sponsors to host advertising banners on Flushing Meadow Park lampposts. This, in spite of the fact that the Parks Department, and in particular Queens, was instrumental in passing recent zoning laws prohibiting advertising within 200 feet of park property. Unisphere, Inc. does not know how much of the advertising revenue will go the NY State Pavilion. Unisphere, Inc. reports that the April fund raiser is really being pushed and coordinated by Estelle Cooper.
November 21 Amy Freitag of the Parks Department speaks with Campione in a telephone conversion. It is agreed that Campione & Aybar will develop a fund raising letter to be submitted to the DP&R for approval.
November 26 Campione forwards the fund raising letter to the DP&R for approval. In a cover letter, he tells Ms. Freitag that they have attorneys and accountants in place to establish an NPO upon their permission to send out this letter. Assuming the Parks Department's approval, Campione & Aybar would appreciate a brief letter from Ms. Freitag or Commissioner Benepe on Parks stationary acknowledging their relationship so that it can accompany the solicitation for funding. He goes on to express his hope that this potential opportunity to allow them to be "the ambassadors for the NYS Pavilion fund raising" allows Parks to concentrate on the skating rink and swimming pool projects "so important to those it was promised to years ago." Per her request he states that "the team" understands that, at this point, all contact with Parks will be through Campione and he concludes by saying that they not only want to be a "friend to parks but work hand in hand with you on this exciting endeavor and any others at FMCP. "
November 26 Pat Dolan, head of the Flushing Meadow Park Conservancy tells Campione that Assistant Commissioner Cooper has plans for the NY State Pavilion to be a visitor and business center. While the Conservancy had not taken an official stance on Cooper's plans, she said that the their efforts and focus is for the Parks Department to complete the ongoing skating rink and pool projects in Flushing Meadows and she questions how Cooper can focus on anything else in the park at this point in time with "the hole in the ground that they can't afford to finish." She also says that Cooper's fund raiser has caused a ripple affect throughout the community and that local politicians are also upset about the DP&R not being focused on the pool and rink.
December 03 Campione releases Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel LLP as the attorney for the Air & Space Museum project.


January 07 Pat Dolan sets up an appointment to have Campione meet and speak with her group the following week. They have gone on record that they want the swimming pool and skating rink completed first however they want to know what Campione & Aybar have been doing and how they plan to proceed. She also said tells him that she doesn't think it was Parks that was focused on the pavilion but Estelle Cooper and that she is a "champion fund raiser" and must have someone "in her group" that has plans for the pavilion which is why she is showing the sudden interest.
January 07 "I think gentleman we are finally at the crossroads." Campione suggests that Aybar put together a letter to Amy Freitag via registered mail stating that they have sent the letter requesting to be the ambassadors to fund raise and that they have complied with everything the DP&R has requested to date to no avail. The letter would state that if the Parks Department no longer wishes to work with them, Campione & Aybar respect their position and remind them that all ideas and work presented are protected by intellectual copyright laws and that Campione & Aybar do not expect their concepts or proposals will be used in part or in whole by the Parks Department or any other person(s) interested in stabilization or development of the pavilion, including but not limited to the stabilization designs presented by CREATE and Meyer Engineers, in addition to the reuse concepts. After that, Campione thinks they may have to abandon the project as he feels that the Parks Department has their own agenda and it doesn't include them. "... to use the old cliche, you can't fight city hall." Campione feels, if nothing else, "we sparked their interest and lit a fire under their ass," and concludes by saying that if Deputy Commissioner Freitag doesn't respond to the registered letter, a final story on everything that has been done to date should be posted on the website and that "the chapter is closed."
January 23 Letter addressed to Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe is sent asking bluntly what the DP&R's intentions are toward the Air & Space Museum proposal. Aybar & Campione give him until February 19, 2004 to respond.
February 10 Amy Freitag responds to Campione & Aybar's letter of January 23rd. They are promised a letter from the Parks Department regarding their fund raising efforts. Ms. Freitag states that "her department follows-up on all correspondence within two weeks of receipt."
February 17 In an email exchange with Pat Dolan of the Flushing Meadow Park Conservancy, Campione laments that they can't seem to get the Parks Department to keep them in the loop on any other efforts surrounding the NY State Pavilion. Ms. Dolan replies that it's no surprise as to how Parks is treating them ... "that's the way they treat everyone. The Conservancy has grant funds that we are ready to spend and cannot get Parks to tell us where to put our projects! I suspect they may be telling you a story in hopes you may go away. Don't!"
February 25 Aybar expresses his frustration that it has been two weeks since Ms. Freitag promised to issue a letter concerning their fund raising efforts. Aybar wonders, "what ever happened to common courtesy?" Campione responds, "We gave them to the 19th to respond. Give the mail a few more days (end of week). Then we pull the plug."
March 02 Campione receives a phone call from Amy Freitag. He is told that the details of an RFP were being worked out and that her chief of staff held up the letter because they didn't want conflicts with the RFP versus what she may have put in a letter. She said she will call by Friday to let him know about the letter and the RFP.
March 10 Aybar receives a phone call from "Liz" at the Park's Department telling him that the letter is being signed today by Adrian Benepe and will go out tomorrow morning.
March 17 No letter has appeared in the week following Aybar's March 10th telephone call from the Parks Department. Campione & Aybar mutually agree to call it quits. Campione decides to contact "Liz" at the DP&R who tells him that the letter is at the Arsenal building (DP&R Headquarters). It had to go through a review process and it should be on its way to Campione's office.
March 18

Campione & Aybar receive a letter from Adrian Benepe that says,

Dear Messrs. Campione and Aybar:

Thank you for your letter regarding the New York State Pavilion.

As you know, Parks shares your passion and commitment to this icon of the Queens skyline. We agree that the first vital step is its stabilization but that ultimately, a new, stimulating function will be necessary to ensure the New York State Pavilion's existence for future generations.

To this end our Revenue Division will prepare a request for expressions of interest in offering bold new visions for the pavilion's long-term adaptive use. We encourage you to participate in this process by responding to the request with your two-step vision for the pavilion. Our hope is that this public process will gain attention and momentum for the project, perhaps yielding additional partners and/or sources of support.

We appreciate your enduring commitment to helping us preserve this New York City landmark. We too are excited to see this project move forward.

Adrian Benepe

cc: Estelle Cooper
Joanne Imohiosen
Amy Freitag
Richard Murphy

March 18 Campione & Aybar are bitterly disappointed with the letter. Aybar believes it is another Parks Department stall tactic and contains nothing that they were promised in repeated conversations with Deputy Commissioner Freitag. For his part Campione is appalled that after two years of negotiating with the Parks Department and Queens Borough Officials, and the meetings with Olympics 2012 officials to bring a team to the table towards a mutual goal, this is the best the Parks Department could do.
April 05 Campione tells Pat Dolan, "The letter we finally received from Parks is a joke. They have strung us along for too long. I don't think I will be attending Estelle's shindig unless you can convince me that its worth it to go to hand out flyers in the parking lot of what the Parks Department is doing to ignore private development and fund raising." Dolan replies, "... it's time to go the civic route. Start with some preservation folks whose names I' ve given you and follow up with local leaders ... You are wasting your time with Estelle [Cooper] who has no reason to do anything for you. Come join the Queens fighters."
April 15 Queens Assistant Parks Commissioner Estelle Cooper hosts a "40th Anniversary Gala" at the Terrace on the Park Facility in Flushing Meadows to celebrate the 40th Anniversary of the opening of the 1964/1965 NY World's Fair. Among the honorees of the event is former Queens Borough President, Claire Schulman. The event is touted by Assistant Commissioner Cooper as a fund raiser for the future renovation of the NY State Pavilion. It is reported that most of the speakers spent a lot of time praising Cooper saying she has essentially been the driving force for some time in the park and has been behind many of the renovations in the past 10 years. They report raising a half million dollars but do not specify any plans for it.
May 11 Campione writes to Amy Freitag that he is sure she will understand that he and Aybar were less than enthusiastic once they received the long awaited letter from Parks signed by Commissioner Benepe, and that it has taken him this long to put together words without being bitter or derogatory in the spirit of teamwork. He tells her that the result of waiting for the letter, as well as its content, gives them no power or authority from the Parks Department to raise funds, neither on a national level nor to put forth their best efforts with a national organization looking to offer partial endowments for the stabilization or adaptive reuse. He says, "So we are forced to play your game. As such, when should we expect the RFP to be issued by the parks department? At which time we will determine collectively as a team whether we will respond or if we will retain the rights to our project under the federal copyright laws and hold them from future use at the pavilion or elsewhere."
May 11 Freitag responds to Campione's email by saying that the letter from the Commissioner was in no way meant to offend or incite. She tells him she understood that they were interested in participating in the Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) "(slightly different from an RFP, but essentially the same type of process)." She says Parks welcomes their interim assistance with the pavilion but thought they understood that the Parks Department would not give them an exclusive right to develop the pavilion in advance of an RFEI process and that perhaps she misunderstand what Campione & Aybar wanted from Parks in the interim. She goes on to say that the University of Pennsylvania Graduate Program in Historic Preservation has completed two projects: an overall historic structure report and a laboratory analysis of cleaning and stabilizing techniques for the NY State Pavilion map and that "Estelle Cooper's fund raiser was a huge success. She hosted over 800 people and raised significant funds for the Pavilion. I hope you see these modest achievements as both the work of kindred spirits and evidence of our shared goals of preservation."
May 11

Campione replies to Freitag:

"At this point we see no interim. I am glad parks has put the pavilion on its radar screen, to that we take some credit. We are also glad to see that Parks is allowing QTIP [Queens Theater-in-the-Park] to expand their structure adjacent to the decaying towers and [I] assume all studies have been conducted to minimize any further deterioration of the towers while construction commences for QTIP. Oddly enough Estelle rejected any concepts of expansion of the pavilion in our proposal. And again I am glad that Estelle has changed her ways and feels the pavilion is worth saving and her fund raiser was a "success." Success however is measured in many different ways and the pace in which Parks works is far too slow for a person who specializes in one objective, servicing their clients and achieving results.

We can patronize each other as much as we like. And I don't wish to be bitter as we have always offered one thing - a helping hand. If Parks and the city have decided to go elsewhere it is out of our control. Stabilizing the map and cleaning are nice, but without a long term plan the efforts are merely a gesture and waste of monies only to be spent again. If Parks wants to continue at a snail's pace so be it. That too is out of my control and I don't see any benefits for it. The fact remains this, Parks has neglected the structure for over 35 years so why rush now?"

Ms. Freitag's response is, "We welcome your fund raising help...we cannot say it more plainly."

May 11 In a letter addressed to Ms. Freitag, Aybar states that he and Campione are committed to make things happen for the NY State Pavilion and the City of New York. But, for over the past three years they have had no commitments from Freitag and her staff. He states that they asked to be part of a fund raising team to start soliciting funds for stabilization of the structure only to be turned down in Benepe's letter. They spent countless hours speaking with professionals at their own cost going over the Parks Department's own commissioned reports and coming up with the same conclusion as stated in the reports: the building is unstable and can collapse. He reminds her of the statements in the engineering reports from 1992 and 1996 that ask for emergency funds to "stabilize" or "demolish" the structure and bluntly states that "eight years have gone by, and nothing done." He goes on to address her remarks that a university is going to work on restoring the map and asks if this makes sense at this time or is he missing something with the logic of this? Finally, he says "if you want us, please get things moving for us (and advise such) otherwise we will move on to projects that others respect."
May 27 Despite their disappointment over the events of May 11th, Campione & Aybar press on. In a letter to Johnson/Ritchie Associates Architects, Campione looks to them for some advice and guidance. He tells the architects that the DP&R continue to keep them at arms length yet will "not actually cut the cord," saying "Each time we actually offer to walk away they continue the conversation but will not outline an agenda nor give us direction other than to say they we have their support. We figure that's a double edge sword. Or more likely they know they can't use our ideas with another team but perhaps politics may be forcing parks to look elsewhere for the end user. They are considering an RFEI for the adaptive reuse but have stated (via phone today) what makes us "unique and cool" is that we have always put stabilization as paramount as the adaptive reuse." He asks if Johnson/Ritchie are close enough with (Assistant Mayor Dan) Doctoroff's office to see if perhaps a meeting could be scheduled directly with him to see if they can find the light at the end of the tunnel and that if they present the architectural team cohesively it could bring some weight to the table.
June 11 Aybar makes plans to get rolling with fund raising activities and recruitment for potential board members. He feels the National Business Aircraft Association is a source along with Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He arranges a contact with a representative of Embry-Riddle on June 14th.
June 14

The NY City Parks Department issues a Request for Expression of Interest (RFEI) for proposals for renovation and future use of the NY State Pavilion. Developers who want to repair the site and license it from the city for use must explain both how they would stabilize the structure and what use would be made of the pavilion. Responses to the RFEI are due on August 11, 2004 and are to be sent to the attention of Slayter Gray, a project manager with the DP&R.

The RFEI is publicized only in the local New York City media area. The RFEI appears on the NY City Parks Department's website, a fact that is not publicized.

In contrast, a similar search conducted by the Queens Museum (also located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park and a relic of the 1939 World's Fair) in 2004 for a designer to renovate that structure, is publicized nationally as a design contest. The Queens Museum applies for and is given a $50 thousand dollar grant by the NEA to assist in the search and puts together a blue ribbon panel to study the design proposals submitted and make a recommendation to the museum Board of Directors on a candidate. Their search takes nearly a year between announcement of the design contest and selection of the winning design bid.

June 18

Aybar & Campione receive a copy of the RFEI in the mail. Campione is again bitterly disappointed in the Park's Departments efforts stating, "this RFEI is, to put it bluntly, a joke on the part of Parks or [else] they think we are stupid. It is one of the shortest RFP (RFEI's) I have ever seen but clearly notes that Parks reserves the right to negotiate with applicants not necessarily responding to the RFEI and TO USE IDEAS OR PROPOSALS SUBMITTED IN ANY MANNER DEEMED TO BE IN THE BEST INTEREST OF THE CITY OF NEW YORK, INCLUDING TO SOLICIT COMPETITIVE SUBMISSIONS RELATING TO SUCH IDEAS OR PROPOSALS. Basically that means we would submit our plans and ideas and if they deem we can't do the project, they can take it in part or in whole and negotiate with someone else. To that I politely respond NICE TRY."

Campione suggests that he attend a July 8, 2004 on-site meeting organized by the DP&R for interested parties responding to the RFEI at the NY State Pavilion. Then he will let the Parks Department "go through with this charade" and on the day the bids are due, respond with a letter that states they are not submitting due to the terms outlined in the RFEI and remind them in the same letter that all proposals previously shown to Parks remain the property of the Campione/Aybar team. Alan Ritchie advises him to be careful in not submitting. He feels it could be automatic ground rules for dismissal and would work against them.

The lack of publicity for the RFEI and the relatively short time frame allowed by the DP&R to submit a response does not go unnoticed by Campione & Aybar. They think, perhaps, this is the Parks Department's way of giving a public nod to the proposal, or a visible, public way of killing it. At any rate, the RFEI does not seem to be a sincere attempt to solicit other ideas for the stabilization and reuse of the pavilion.

June 22 Despite their misgivings regarding the Parks Department's intentions toward them and their belief that the RFEI is a less than a sincere effort by the Park's Department to solicit serious proposals for a permanent reuse of the NY State Pavilion, Campione & Aybar decide to submit an RFEI and begin a campaign to bring aboard major players to back them up. They contact and enlist support from such names as Otis Elevator Company, the original developer of the "Sky Streak" elevators of the pavilion; the original m/e/p/ Syska Hennesey; the original Tent of Tomorrow roofing designers Kallwall Corporation; project developer Dan Rubin of PREIT; and several others. Their efforts are greeted with overwhelming support for the project and each contact agrees to submit a letter of support to be included with the RFEI.
July 8 The New York Times publishes an article titled "City's Tall Order" The article reports that the city's Parks Department is soliciting ideas that would justify spending millions of dollars to reverse decades of neglect of the NY State Pavilion. Commissioner Adrian Benepe is quoted as saying, "We'd love to bring it back to life. But it would have to be something that could produce revenue." The Times article is one of only a handful of New York City newspapers to publicize the RFEI and is printed on the very day that the only tour of the pavilion is held for interested developers.
July 12

Campione writes to Amy Freitag of the Parks Department regarding his experience at the Parks Department's July 8, 2004 on-site walk-through:

"Don't know if you heard but there were only CREATE and Max Gordon Architects
there yesterday (not counting parks, press, Atlas Construction (who is joining our efforts) and one member of a local business association (who is also backing our proposal). I'm assuming Mr. Gordon is the Sports Museum Architect?

We were also told the last RFEI that went out (something on the waterfront in Brooklyn) resulted in only two responses from the public and the project never went to RFP which causes us some concern. Concurrently, we are equally concerned with the terms of the RFEI that were further discussed at the walk through as well as the lack of any true schedule that will be kept by Parks to ensure fruition of a project once responses are received on August 11. As such, is that something that can be addressed formally through Slater prior to submissions? In addition she noted she is going on vacation so who do we address clarifications to in her absence? It was left at the walk through that basically Parks doesn't have a time line or schedule which would leave us, after all this, essentially where we were.

I think the media coverage was OK and of course positive for the public (with the exception of the [NY] Post article that seemed to make a mockery of the project). And while parks is putting their best foot forward for some national attention, I believe you will be extremely impressed with our progress since we last spoke via telephone and the team of "all stars" we have and continue to assemble.

We would however like your assistance in reaching out to NYC2012 for an interim use since this too was discussed at the walk through with no real answers provided nor direction. Calls to Alexander Garvin have been unreturned."

August 11 Deadline date for submission of RFEI to the NY City Parks Department for proposals to stabilize and reuse the NY State Pavilion.
August 11 Campione &Aybar deliver their response to the DP&R's RFEI. In addition to addressing all of the points set forth in the RFEI the proposal includes letters of endorsement from Philip Johnson-Alan Ritchie Associates Architects, Meyer Consulting Engineers, The Thornton-Tomassetti Group, Cosentini Associates Consulting Engineers, Langan Engineering & Environmental Services, Zion, Breen & Richardson Associates, VMI-Maris Traffic Consultants, Otis Elevator Company and Kalwall Corporation, among others.
August 16 Campione places a telephone call to Slayter Gray, the Parks Department contact for the NY State Pavilion RFEI. He asks how many responses the Parks Department got to the RFEI. He is told that, per her boss Mr. Charles Kloth, they need to keep that private "and if anyone has a problem with that they have to go through Parks Legal Department." Campione tells her he finds this absurd since Parks was willing to issue the list of attendees of the July 8th walk through to parties that did not attend. She said she was unaware that it was issued but Campione says he knows for a fact that a party that didn't attend received the list of names because one of his project's new supporters has the list!
September 14 In an email to Slayter Gray, Campione inquires as to the status of the submission to the RFEI. Since his telephone conversation regarding the number of submissions there has been no further response from the DP&R. He states, "We still would like to know the number of respondents and indeed we now are requesting to be aware of all parties that did submit. Since my office's conversation with you and per your recommendation that we contact Parks legal department it has been reviewed and determined by our counsel that this is indeed a matter of public record and thus should be made available not only to us as respondents but legally must be provided to any member of the general public who may make a similar request. We are eager to hear from you not only to our original request but on the status of Parks review and comments, recommendations to date."
September 24 Campione is contacted by Alan Ritchie who tells him he was at an event two nights ago when he happened to be formally introduced to Adrian Benepe. He asked Commissioner Benepe what was going on regarding the RFEI. According to Mr. Ritchie, Benepe didn't even realize Ritchie/Johnson Associates was a part of the Air & Space Museum team. Mr. Benepe's only comment, when directly confronted with the question of what is going on and what are you going to do was, "we are not doing anything because we didn't get what we wanted" which was someone willing to pay Parks for the use of the pavilion. Mr. Ritchie told him he thought his team's submission met all of the requirements and said Commissioner Benepe was "like a deer in the headlights because he didn't even know I was part of the Campione/Aybar team." Campione states, "Sounds like at the end of this year we will finally dead file the project and parks will keep their eyesore."
September 27 In a letter dated September 27, 2004, Campione is notified, "At this time Parks is not prepared to go forward with a Request for Proposals regarding [the NY State Pavilion]." The one-paragraph letter thanks Campione for his interest in the project and encourages him to submit bids and proposals for other DP&R concessions in the future.


January 25 Architect Philip Johnson passes away at age 98.
March 27 The New York Times publishes an article titled "What's Next, the Grill Room?" The article by Fred A. Bernstein contains a paragraph stating "The New York State Pavilion, in Queens at the 1964 World's Fair site in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park. Johnson liked the circular building so much that he chose it for the cover of his enormous 2002 monograph, "The Architecture of Philip Johnson", but it's been rotting away for decades. Last year the city's parks department put out a request for expressions of interest, to find a developer willing to restore and reuse the building. Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said that the department had received two proposals, but "both lacked financial viability." That increases the likelihood that the pavilion, which many deem unsafe, will be demolished. "
April 25 The Queens Chronicle publishes an article titled "Queens Celebration Will Keep Flushing Meadows Hopping." The article reports that a two-day festival called the Queens Celebration will be held in Flushing Meadows on June 18-19, 2005. “It will be a fundraiser for the park and will be held three weeks before the Olympic Committee picks the host city for the 2012 summer games,” according to Estelle Cooper, assistant Parks Commissioner, whose office is in Flushing Meadows. Since several Olympic events are planned for the park, the city wants to show it can bring out large crowds to events. Cooper notes that if the city gets the Olympic nod, during the games in 2012, Flushing Meadows’ name will be changed temporarily to Olympic Park. “The mayor said this months ago, but it is only a temporary measure. No way will the park’s name be changed for good,” Cooper adds. The article goes on to say that there will be another park event on June 16th. A fund-raiser luau will be held in a tent in the Ederle recreation area near Meadow Lake that will include traditional Hawaiian food, hula dancers and fire dancers. The cost is $200. Money raised at both events will go into a fund set aside for the former NY State Pavilion from the 1964 World’s Fair. The article says it has been estimated that it will cost millions to renovate and strengthen the structure before any permanent use can be determined to turn the pavilion into a money-making operation. [The event is ultimately canceled.]
July 6 The 2012 Olympic Games are awarded to London, England.
July 7 The Queens Tribune publishes an article titled "Just Another Hurdle: Tracking New York's 2016 Olympic Dream." In the article, NY City Parks Department Commissioner Adrian Benepe says that the City’s parks are in better shape than they have been for the last 40 years thanks to the spirit of the Olympics.


June 1 The Queens Gazette publishes an article titled "A '50s' Party Is Fundraiser For Flushing Meadows ." The article states that Park's Commissioner, Estelle Cooper, who doubles as Assistant Commissioner of all Queens parks, is the force behind the "funfest and fundraiser." Borough President Helen Marshall shares the chairperson duties for the event with Cooper. Cooper acknowledges that Flushing Meadows receives capital funds from the city budget "but there's always room for private donations to make repairs and improvements." The article goes on to say that a major target for Cooper is the park's NY State Pavilion, built for the 1939 [sic] World's Fair, now a deteriorated eyesore. "Let's fix it or tear it down," Cooper goes on record as saying. The article reports that a decision will depend on how much money the festivities bring in.
July 14 Two full years after the RFEI rejection by the New York City Department of Parks and Recreation, Campione sends an email to Amy Freitag asking what the status is of the Parks Department's efforts toward stabilization and reuse of the NY State Pavilion and if Assistant Commissioner Cooper's fund raisers have provided a jump start toward any real work on the Tent of Tomorrow and towers. Freitag forwards his request to the Director of Public Relations for the Parks Department, Warner Johnston, who responds, "We are pleased to announce that we recently received a $40,000 grant from the NEA and another $15,000 grant from the Samuel H. Kress Foundation to work on the terrazzo map floor. We are continuing our work to complete a structural assessment of the structure and seek an appropriate use."


Color Key

Events impacting the Air & Space Museum Proposal
Public events and comments by Aybar, Campione and others regarding the Proposal
Events and interaction between Aybar, Campione and others
Events and interaction between Aybar, Campione and others


Documents supporting this Timeline are on file at the offices of CREATE Architecture Planning and Design and can be reviewed by contacting:

Mr. Frankie Campione, Principal
CREATE Architecture Planning & Design
The Chrysler Building
405 Lexington Avenue, Tower Suite 70
New York, New York 10174