Saturday, May 30, 2015

Off To The World's Fair!

Milan's Expo 2015

Next September I'll be riding a bicycle with friends through Normandy. And, I'll be using some of my zillions of frequent flier miles to get there and back.

Using frequent flier miles typically requires flexibility with travel dates. So, I'll have a couple of extra days in Europe after the bike trip ends. Days I initially figured I'd enjoy in Paris.

But, then I found out there is a World's Fair in Italy with a food based theme. Think of it, a world's fair in a country that worships food, hosted in Milan, the epicenter of design.

So, when the bike tour returns me to Paris Charles De Gaulle airport, I'll catch an EasyJet flight on to Milan. 

The goal of Milan's Expo 2015 is more than epicurean, it stresses protecting and the expanding the world's food supply. The US pavilion features rotating American chef's and food trucks!

You can see a bit about Expo 2015 here!

Some of the 140+ pavilions are showcased here.

Back when the US used to host Worlds Fairs they were a big deal with my family. I am an architect today in part because of a visit to Seattle's World's Fair when I was about 8.

Growing up in Chicago my mom cherished the 1933 Century of Progress. At the very height of The Great Depression, she drew hope and inspiration for a better future from that fair.

It all kind made me reflect how, World's Fair's tend to leave more than memories. They leave legacies; Paris' Eiffel Tower, Seattle's Space Needle (and from an earlier fair the University of Washington campus design), the Palace of Fine Arts in SF, the Tower of the America's in San Antonio, Lisbon's amazing aquarium, Fair Park in Dallas, San Diego's Balboa Park, Vancouver's Cruise ship terminal, Barcelona's Magic Fountain and Mies Van der Rohe's Barcelona Pavilion and Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry all originated from International Expositions.

It occurred to me that my own children are now adults and have never had the opportunity to experience a world's fair in the United States.

A few Google® moments disclosed that the US is no longer eligible to host authorized worlds fairs because the US quit paying its dues to the Bureau of International Expositions (BIE) a long time ago. Hence, no American World's Fair in over 4 decades. The last big fair in North America was Vancouver's Expo 86.

It's not like the world's fairs disappeared. There have actually been many expositions during those forty plus years, just none hosted by the wealthiest country in the world.

The situation is wonderfully portrayed in an award winning 2013 documentary Where's the Fair?

Our withdrawal from BIE ended the Silicon Valley's sincere bid for the 2020 fair. And, LA's recent efforts to mount an "unofficial" bid for a transit themed exposition in 2022 will also almost certainly be dashed.

Yet, if the US rejoins the BIE, both Houston and the SF Bay Area have announced intentions to bid to host a 2025 Exposition.

All this made me wonder who built the US Pavilion America2.0 in Milan?

Turns out we American's owe profound appreciation to the James Beard Foundation and a bunch of (mainly) food related companies whose corporate sponsorship took the initiative to organize, design and pay for the America2.0 Pavilion in Milan.

I say, you are all awesome! I am personally really looking forward to enjoying your gift to the world on behalf of the citizens of the US!

In the meantime as a nation lets pull on our big boy pants and rejoin the BIE. Lets enable a day when American families can once again experience the wonder of a real world's fair right here in the US!

If you'd care to, you may add your name to a petition asking the US to rejoin the BIE here. At the end it will (like everything these days) ask for money. And, if you are so disposed, cool!

But the main thing is that you add your name.

Roadboy's Travels © 2015

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