Friday, November 21, 2008

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall: Raze World's Fair Rotunda by Nichola Hirshon - NY Daily News

Read original...

Mr. Parks Commissioner, tear down that icon!

Photo (left) The New York State Pavilion, built by architect Philip Johnson for the 1964-1965 World's Fair, now sits in a state of disrepair, and Borough President Helen Marshall thinks it should be torn down. Hagen for News/Freelance NYDN

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall urged destruction of the New York State Pavilion during an interview this week with the Daily News, pre-empting a city study on whether the structure can be saved.

"It should be demolished," Marshall said of the pavilion, designed by famed architect Philip Johnson. "We have great artists. He's not the only artist in the world."

Though the 1964 World's Fair exhibit has decayed much over the decades, the unique rotunda with three towers remains integral to the city's proposed transformation of Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

But Marshall rejected that blueprint on Tuesday after attending a Borough Hall meeting where Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe said a study on the pavilion's stability was "imminent."

But Marshall said she believes the structure isn't safe.

"And to fix it and repair it would cost an arm and a leg," she said. "People have all kinds of ideas [to save the pavilion], but to make it work is another story."

Benepe said during the meeting that he was open to pitches to turn the pavilion into a welcome center or museum - and marveled at positive feedback he has gotten from Queens leaders.

"It's rare we've had a plan meet with this level of satisfaction so early in the planning process," Benepe said.

Informed later of Marshall's comments, Benepe said an effort to preserve the pavilion could succeed without her support.

"If there's a practical way to save the Tent of Tomorrow [rotunda] and the whole pavilion, we'll do that," he said.

He also said the city would "take serious steps" if the study finds the pavilion unsafe.

Greg Godfrey, president of a park watchdog group that has advocated for landmarking the pavilion, criticized Marshall for taking such an early stance against preservation.

"That's dangerous, that she has that predetermined opinion," he said.

But Bruce Bendell - chairman of Unisphere Inc., a nonprofit that raises funds for the park - said he would like to see the pavilion torn down to make way for a youth center.

"Why not have a new structure that's a replica of what was there before?" Bendell asked.