The History of World Expositions
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As was the case for the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago in 1893, a committee consisting of the most important architects in Chicago and the USA (apart from Frank Lloyd Wright who was regarded as too stubborn) was convened in order to establish outstanding, innovative building concepts for the fair. Designs for temporary buildings were required because the grounds were due to be converted into a landscape park later. The architects met four times a year between 1928 and 1932 to coordinate their ideas and discuss new solutions. The grounds were split up into different sections for which individual architectural firms were responsible, but a few principal rules were agreed. In order to avoid the exhausting spaciousness of previous World's Fairs, the intention was to erect multi-storey buildings which concentrated the exhibits and increased the vivid overall impression. The use of fast-assembly steel scaffolding and new building materials (asbestos cement and plaster panels) was linked with a new form language which was geared to modern European developments such as the matter-of-fact Bauhaus architecture and Art Deco. Here, too, the fair's idea of progress was to be implemented. Daniel H. Burnham Jr., the chairman of the architecture commission, summarized the goals of building planning as follows: "We will not bore our public with monotonous repetition of obsolete patterns. Our festival requires an architecture that will keep step with the tempo of the modern age."

The results of these considerations were experimental buildings occasionally even with a utopian effect which dispensed with decorations, sculptured ornamentation and, generally, windows as well. This not only cut costs but was also beneficial to the exhibition area inside. As there were no binding guidelines for the height of buildings their simple, functional constructions were frequently accentuated by towers or masts that soared aloft. The Federal and States Building, for example, was identifiable by its three 45-metre pylons standing for the nation's executive, legislative and judicial branches; General Motors' pavilion was topped by a 55-metre tower; the Electricity Group was accessed from the water through a portal consisting of two high, cubic pylons.

Various other tower projects, however, fell victim to the Depression. Proposals that were not taken up included a steel construction 150 metres high , and a "tower of water and light" which incorporated cascades of water together with floodlights. Instead, a 75-metre thermometer was another outstanding vertical feature.

The Hall of Science, which accommodated the central theme exhibition, covered a respectable 67,000 square metres. Its architect, Paul Philippe Cret, chose a U-shaped outline which, with a middle portion and two wings making up a court of honour that was open to the east, provided space for 80,000 persons. Broad staircases and several terraces increased the plasticity of this building. A 53-metre tower at the south-west corner was a visual mark of the unity of this spacious construction. A timber framework covered by prefabricated lightweight building material was placed between the steel columns that formed the constructional skeleton of the building. The interplay of light and shadow on the generous, clearly modelled wall areas, which were designed in the complementary colours of blue and orange, made the architectural forms into an exciting relationship which seemed to change rhythmically depending on the location of the viewer.

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The Chicago World Exposition 1933 & 1934
Colourful halls of steel and plaster
Year: 1933City: ChicagoCountry: USA
Duration: 27th May - 12th November 1933 und 25th M



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