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Is the US Pavilion the very worst in the Shanghai Expo?

Apr 24 '10 124 Last Comment
Urbanist
May 7, 10 11:31 pm

well.. apparently some Chinese masterplanner has a sense of humor: the North Korean and Iranian pavilions are neighbors - on what wags have coined "Axis of Evil Corner" ;P

Ken Koense
May 7, 10 11:36 pm

I thought the Greek pavilion sucked pretty hard too. The US though, oh my! To think someone got bank on that hack job.

Arturius
May 17, 10 8:19 pm

Now that the papers filed with the IRS became available, about one-third the stated cost for the pavilion -- about $20 million-plus -- went for design and construction. Another third -- actually, $23 million -- went for the three short films and theaters inside. The last third went for other expenses, including about $10 million for "operations." The most grandiose pavilions, of which there were only three -- China, Japan, and Saudi Arabia -- came in well over $100 million each. But the best pavilions in terms of popularity -- Denmark, Spain, South Korea, etc. -- cost about $30 million in total.

Arturius
May 17, 10 8:20 pm

I meant to say, $30 million each for the best pavilions.

Urbanist
May 18, 10 6:33 pm

I'd still like someone to tell me what "urban planning foliage" is

Distant Unicorn
May 18, 10 9:48 pm

Yes, let's talk about the urban planning foliage!

Arturius
May 19, 10 12:47 am

For the US Pavilion, I think the urban planning foliage is the slight patch of roof between the two theater buildings. Better green planning than asphalt planning.

Urbanist
May 19, 10 2:48 am

it is just a little interesting to note which countries chose literal expressions of national character for their pavilion designs (eagles, pagodas, etc), and which countries chose more abstracted, experimental visions. The US, China, Saudi Arabia and Iran were among those with expensive pavilions that rely upon tritely literal architecture.. coincidentally, or not, they are all countries with the death penalty, a tolerance for torture, and world scale hydrocarbon addictions... I'm just sayin'

Now I'm off to bed, pondering the substance of urban planning foliage...

wrecking ball
May 19, 10 10:36 am

americans want their buildings just like everything else: packaged and regulated.

the american pavilion is the best physical representation of that and it's so disturbing. the very fact that good design is context specific, requires a process and research is just too much work. i feel that americans in general don't enjoy the process of life and learning anymore (much less the process of building) - they want it ready made and don't want to experience the journey on the way there. architecture can't and won't survive so long as people want to buy a happy meal instead of make dinner from scratch.

citizen4nr
May 19, 10 11:33 am

the us pavilion looks like a bmw or audi car dealership

Arturius
May 19, 10 9:48 pm

Commerce Secretary Gary Locke, quoted in China Daily:

"Seeing the US Pavilion at the Shanghai Expo, and Gensler's work in designing the Shanghai Tower, gave us a glimpse of the future of clean energy and how US and Chinese companies are working together to make that future a reality," Locke said.

What about the US Pavilion has to do with clean energy? Working together, sure, the Chinese redesigned and built the US Pavilion.

galaxiz
May 20, 10 1:41 am

Out of the pavilions visited personally last week, these pavilions tand out for me (both content & building):

Denmark
Finland
Indonesia
United Kingdom
Luxembourg (it's quirky but fun)


The bad:

Ukrain
Greece
North Korea

Many of the almagamated pavilions lack content, the Myamar pavilion resembles a trade show booth more than anything else.

...didn't get a chance to visit some of the "hot" pavilions such as Germany, Switzerland, Spain, UAE & France, the wait was just too damn long. The people at the Pacific Islands pavilion (Fiji, Marshall Islands, Vanuatu, etc.) are the friendliest out of all countries.

The funny thing is that the Expo is as much about international politics as about any other this type of events. You can pay 30RMB for an "Expo passport" and get stamped in each pavilion on the corresponding page. Of cousre, not every country gets its own page, therefore I observed the following incidents during my day at the Expo:

- The surly man at the North Korea pavilion refuse to stamp on the South Korea page when presented.

- Since Ukrain doesn't have its own page, the girl at the stamp booth gave me the dirtiest eye when I asked her to stamp on the Russia page (...simply because they are neighbours, I thought, and I was running out of space on the blank pages on the back)

- The man at the Slovakia pavilion stamps on the Poland page becasue they are "neighbours".

Arturius
May 20, 10 8:30 am

I just published this article on Huffington Post:

"A Stalking Horse for Privatization? The US Pavilion Meets the IRS," May 20, 2010

There's more to the US Pavilion than meets the eye (thank goodness or should I say, "My God!"?). I welcome your comments, on HuffPost or here.

Urbanist
May 20, 10 11:20 am

so in other words, our pavilion is not only pathetic and privatized (or at least indicative of the blackwaterization of the American state), it is also just downright corrupt?

Sell it to a Chinese mall-developer for use as a cinema multiplex, I think..... it really kind of looks like one.

Arturius
May 24, 10 1:00 am

I NEED YOUR HELP.

The Alcoa Foundation has offered the US Pavilion a substantial grant to make several "green" modifications to the US Pavilion and its operations.

I'm not an expert regarding how significant these modifications are. If one or more readers is expert in green construction, LEED standards, CO2 emission mitigation, etc., I would appreciate your looking over this press release and getting back to me with your comments and conclusions. Thank you.

[http://newsblaze.com/story/20100523130651zzzz.nb/topstory.html] State Dept. press release[/url]

Bob Jacobson --> bluefire AT well DOT com

Arturius
May 24, 10 1:05 am

Let me try that again:

I NEED YOUR HELP:

The Alcoa Foundation has offered the US Pavilion organizers a substantial grant for several "green" modifications to the US Pavilion and its operations.

I need an expert to tell me how significant these modifications are. If one or more readers are expert in green construction, LEED standards, CO2 emission mitigation, etc., I would appreciate your looking over this press release and getting back to me with your comments and conclusions. Thank you.

State Dept. press release

Bob Jacobson --> bluefire AT well DOT com

jaja
May 24, 10 9:08 am

Come on guys, don't feel bad. The UK pavilion is beautiful but it doesn't represent anything UK-ish. As a matter of fact, the English including the Royals hate anything that has to do with modern architecture. So in essence, the UK don't even like their own pavilion.

On the other hand, our culture is of those that pretend to be something else. We tend to by a BMW and wears Versaci clothes all on credit. So maybe a pretentiuos innovative non US pavilion would have been better.

Urbanist
May 25, 10 2:19 pm

actually, I would argue that UKishness, from a design perspective, is about precisely a type of irreverent hipness, as if their conservatism and the middle way provides them with the grounding to be just a little outrageous. I think their pavilion is perfect for who they aer.

Arturius
May 25, 10 6:11 pm

Recently, the State Department announced a grant from the Alcoa Foundation to the organizers of the US Pavilion. The grant is for modifications to the US Pavilion that will render it more in keeping with the Shanghai Expo's "sustainability" theme.

newsblaze.com/story/20100523130651zzzz.nb/topstory.html] Alcoa/State Department US Pavilion Grant Announcement

I asked a well-regarded LEED architect, a California-based expert in design and construction sustainability and recyclability, for his opinion of the items mentioned in Alcoa's announcement.

Here is his analysis:

My observations on the press release include:

1. The addition of green features must be given together with relative quantities, such as "on-site renewable energy will provide 50% of the buildings energy needs", or "a green roof covers 50% of the buildings roof surface", and so forth. Otherwise we don't know how significant they are.

2. Staff training is only one part of a commissioning process that can provide energy savings, usually only 10% better than without the commissioning and training

3. Re-use of the pavilion is doubtful if it wasn't designed to be moved and re-used. It's a very complicated issue. I would guess the structure will be sold for salvage and scrap. This will likely occur years after the spotlight has shifted elsewhere and we'll never know.

My sense of this is that they have tried to retrofit green building features for mainly image purposes and they're making exaggerated claims.

It's a very disappointing outcome if that is the case.

Arturius
May 25, 10 6:19 pm

What got my attention were these two "contributions":

# Energy-efficient building operations over the six-month period of operation, achieved through specialized training of on-site building management staff, which may result in a reduction of energy use and direct GHG emissions of up to 20 percent.

# Comprehensive and verifiable quantification of all unavoidable GHG emissions associated with the operation of the Pavilion over its six-month period of operation, in accordance with international standard GHG inventory protocol (specifically, the WRI/WBCSD Greenhouse Gas Protocol).

...To which I reply, so what? What does it matter the reduction if it's only measurable and therefore adjustable after the fact of the US Pavilion's operation? When the Expo closes, it's done. Like the LEED expert in the last posting, I perceive the post facto "greening" of the US Pavilion to be too little and too late to make a difference in its operation over the next months.

Also, who's measuring how much saturated fat and sugar water is being vended in the fast-food court or the interior gasouse effects of so much stuff thrown together in the last weeks before the US Pavilion opened?

The press announcement begs more questions than the claims it makes.

Cherith Cutestory
May 27, 10 2:05 pm
Expo 70:Japan

I would take any of these over the current US pavilion

nothing_is_everything
Jun 1, 10 2:55 pm

Not much has changed...this is an excerpt from Erik Larson's "Devil in the White City"

"In Paris, America had made a half-hearted effort to show off its artistic, industrial and scientific talent. "We shall be ranked among those nations who have shown themselves careless of appearances," wrote the Chicago Tribune's Paris corespondent on May 13, 1889. Other nations, he wrote, had mounted exhibits of dignity and style, while American exhibitors had erected a melange of pavilions and kiosks with no artistic guidance and no uniform plan. "The result is a sad jumble of shops, booths, and bazaars often unpleasing in themselves and incongruous when taken together."

nothing_is_everything
Jun 1, 10 2:55 pm

Not much has changed...this is an excerpt from Erik Larson's "Devil in the White City"

"In Paris, America had made a half-hearted effort to show off its artistic, industrial and scientific talent. "We shall be ranked among those nations who have shown themselves careless of appearances," wrote the Chicago Tribune's Paris corespondent on May 13, 1889. Other nations, he wrote, had mounted exhibits of dignity and style, while American exhibitors had erected a melange of pavilions and kiosks with no artistic guidance and no uniform plan. "The result is a sad jumble of shops, booths, and bazaars often unpleasing in themselves and incongruous when taken together."

Urbanist
Jun 1, 10 3:16 pm

well, untested,.. I suppose that one can argue that the heydey of the American empire was bracketed between the Spanish-American War (1898) and the Bush/Florida election fiasco of 2000 (or, alternatively, if you lean rightward, the impeachment of Bill Clinton in 1998).

Perhaps we've come full circle between the Paris and Shanghai expos.

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