Landslide2008: Marvels of Modernism


World's Fair
Courtesy Travis Godbout

The 1962 World’s Fair placed an international spotlight on Seattle.

Home of the Boeing Company headquarters, the city played an integral part in the Cold War space race against the Soviets. The Fair itself showcased U.S. advances in science and aerospace technology. Dubbed the “Century 21 Exposition,” the Fair opened on April 21 and ran through October 21, 1962, with nearly ten million attendees.

The Fair's vision of the future displayed a technologically-based optimism where humans would master nature through technology rather than through an understanding of ecology. Its buildings were designed to transition to life beyond the Fair, and the principal buildings (totaling almost 400,000 square feet) were to become part of a long-range plan for a new Civic Center. Also, included in the more than 70-acre campus were several buildings that had to be renovated or remodeled and integrated, including the existing civic center.

Paul Thiry, known for introducing the International Style to Seattle in the mid-1930s, was appointed supervising architect for the fair, and landscape architect and Presidential Medal of Arts recipient Lawrence Halprin developed the landscape design. The U.S. Science Pavilion was constructed on the highest point of the fairgrounds and cost the Federal government $9 million. The pavilion, meant to be both a showcase and a recruiting tool for the sciences, was designed by Detroit-based architect Minoru Yamasaki, in association with NBBJ. During the mid and late 1950s, Yamasaki’s designs for buildings, plazas, and courtyards at Detroit’s Wayne State University garnered national honors and spotlighted his use of modern materials in Gothic-infused, International-style designs.

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List of Marvels

Boston City Hall Plaza
Boston, Massachusetts

Estates Drive Reservoir
Oakland, California

Heritage Plaza
Heritage Park
Fort Worth, Texas

Kaiser Roof Garden
Kaiser Center
Oakland, California

Lake Elizabeth
Allegheny Commons
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Manhattan Square Park
Rochester, New York

Mill Creek Canyon

Kent, Washington

Miller Garden
Columbus, Indiana

El Monte
Hato Rey, Puerto Rico

Pacific Science
Center Courtyard

Seattle, Washington

San Francisco, California

Peavey Plaza
Nicollet Mall
Minneapolis, Minnesota

education partners
Garden DesignGeorge Eastman House
Additional Sponsors

American Society of Landscape Architects’ Indiana, Pennsylvania/Delaware, Minnesota, Northern California, Texas, Upstate New York, and Washington Chapters • Astorino • Charles Butt • Design Within Reach • Topher Delaney • Sandy Donnell & Justin Faggioli • Fathom • Tom Fox • Hillman Foundation • Indianapolis Museum of Art • Lorraine Osmundson • Richard T. Murphy • National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Northeast, Southwest, and Western Offices- with funds from the Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation of New York, Dodge Jones Foundation Intervention Fund, and Eastern Massachusetts Preservation Fund • James Richards • Seibert & Rice • Diana & Bruce Shuman • Ann Stack • SWA Group • TBG Partners • Michal and Jeffrey William Tincup • Unilock Inc. • The Woltz Charitable Trust