In the exploration of World’s Fairs we are able to observe how those exhibitions advanced the architecture and design of the time. World’s Fairs were meant to be a spectacle, a sight to be seen, grand, and innovative. Most notably were the new technologies, inventions, and products that were unveiled to the public. Knowing these exhibitions grabbed the attention of people around the world, it was a competition to see who could present the latest and greatest.
As we look back to specific spectacles, the Great Exhibition of 1851 was very influential in the ability to advance architecture and design. Proceeding the Industrial Revolution, this World’s Fair, located in London, England was a gathering place to showcase the newest manufactured goods and products. This included new materials, modes and transportation, and construction methods. The Crystal Palace was constructed of iron and glass. To many, this structure was previously thought impossible. As visitors experienced this space, there were taken aback by the large scale and ability to work with new materials. It showed the innovative architecture of the time and how design could be in the future.
Similarly, the New York World’s Fair of 1939 was able to push forward the advancements in architecture and design. This fair was far more expansive than previous fairs and showcased the future, the model of tomorrow. It was very futuristic in design with incorporation of art deco accents. The buildings were positioned centrally with pathways radiating from the center. Unlike the White City in Chicago, this World’s Fair embraced color with open arms. As new technologies were being unveiled and showcased, and big business highlighted, the structures were streamline and pushing the envelope for design of the future. As visitors were experiencing this spectacle they were able to forget about the struggles of the Great Depression and entering WWII. People were able to forget for a just a moment and enjoy.
World’s Fairs are able to gather people from all over the world. As we observe the exhibitions over time we are able to see how they aid in the advancement of architecture and design. Time will only tell how upcoming World’s Fairs will influence the future of culture, innovation, and design.