Sunday, August 12, 2012

New York World's Fair, IBM Pavilion

Today's trip to the New York World's Fair features the distinctive IBM pavilion. It's hard to miss the 90 foot-high, egg-shaped theater; note that it is covered with the letters "IBM" in relief. Famed architect Eero Saarinen (the TWA terminal at JFK airport, and the St. Louis Arch, among other projects) was involved in the early stages of this design, although he died in 1961. Some say that the "egg" was built to resemble the typeball of an IBM selectric typewriter.

Out in the courtyard... well, not much to see here, unless you like geraniums. Which I do! What appear to be steel beams jutting up out of the picture frame are actaully the "trunks" of metal trees that helped to support the main structure.

Inside the "egg", visitors would view a 12 minute film created by Charles and Ray Eames. It was called  "The Information Machine", which sounds appropriately 1960s-ish. In order to view this film, up to 500 guests sat in this steeply-angled grandstand called "The People Wall".

The entire audience was raised up 50 feet via massive hydraulic lifts. At one point, a host descended from the ceiling on a tiny "crow's nest". You can see pictures of it here... pretty cool!

In this next photo, the People Wall is rising up into the theater. The film was "... a 12-minute show full of visible and audible surprises (special lighting effects, stereophonic sound, 14 slide and movie projectors throwing images on screens and surfaces of various shapes and sizes)...". It described "the similarity of methods that are used by the human mind and computers to solve problems".

Here's what you would have seen if you were part of the People Wall before it was raised. The "Fountain of the Planets" is to the left, while the Better Living Center and General Electric's "Progressland" are to the right. Let's go to Progressland next, dad!

From this raised view, you get a better look at the steel "trees" supporting the whole shebang!

I hope you have enjoyed your visit to the IBM pavilion.


Melissa said...

It's like a giant typewriter ball!

Rich T. said...

I'd never heard about how this pavilion worked before -- amazing and strange! Would love to have seen this in person! :)

K. Martinez said...

I like geraniums! I really do! After looking at your images and the linked article, the steel trees seem like the coolest feature of the IBM exhibit.

Hrundi V. Bakshi said...

When I first saw the picture I thought Mothra's egg had washed ashore and a crowd had gathered to point and stare.

Nanook said...

Is it any wonder why so many folks continue to praise this world's fair as the greatest of the 2oth century-? Okay, perhaps the 1939 World's Fair. (Maybe it's a Flushing Meadows thing).

outsidetheberm said...

Wow! Remarkable images today.

If memory serves, there was a wonderful National Geographic Magazine feature about the fair that included a nice photo of the 'people wall'in action.

And who knew that Charles and Ray Eames created the film for the pavilion? How great is that?! World famous for their furniture design, of course, but filmmakers too. At least Ray was, anyway. That's one talented lady!

TokyoMagic! said...

I vote for Progressland too, but I would have loved to have seen the IBM exhibit as well. Can you believe such a structure and ride/theater system was built for something as temporary as a two year fair? It would NEVER happen today....sadly!

Nanook said...

Outsidetheberm - Absolutely, The Eames' made over 100 short films btwn. 1950 & 1982, ranging in length from 1-30 minutes. They even made a commercial for the Polaroid SX-70 Camera, in addition to films for fairs and exhibitions.

Many of them were scored by Elmer Bernstein, whose most note-worthy feature-length scores are: The Magnificent Seven, The Ten Commandments, The Great Escape, To Kill a Mockingbird, and Ghostbusters.

Nancy said...

Such a great set! I never made it here yesterday but am looking forward to reading everything
today.... :-)

I LUV the NYWF!!