Call for papers for the session "Worlds of Today: Architectural Innovations at International Expositions, 1958-2000" at the Society of Architectural Historians 61st Annual Meeting, 23–27 April 2008, Cincinnati, Ohio.
The deadline for the submission of abstracts is August 17th.
After an eighteen-year break due to the Second World War, international expositions resumed in 1958 with the Exposition Universelle in Brussels. The world of tomorrow so spectacularly portrayed in the American expositions of the 1930s had arrived, although not in the manner that the organizers of those fairs had projected. The war had revealed a darker side to the modern scientific advances jubilantly celebrated in Chicago and New York. Pre-war Colonial fairs gave way to Cold War expositions. The confrontation between Russia and Germany so clearly represented architecturally at the 1937 Paris Exposition was replaced by a growing rivalry between the United States and the Soviet Union. Despite tensions, post-war fairs presented hopeful themes that focused on harmony and humanity in the world.
Like their earlier counterparts, these expositions showcased the possibilities of new technologies and ideas, but in the context of a more somber vision of the future. Innovative experiential environments and structural innovations developed by the aeronautical industries were incorporated into pavilion designs during the 1960s and 1970s. After the collapse of communism in the late 1980s, event organizers turned to global environmental issues for their central themes, in part as a means to maintain the relevance of international expositions in the Internet age. Since that time, world fairs have featured new materials and technologies that exhibit the potential for producing more sustainable building designs.
International expositions have the ability to reflect cultural conditions, including architectural ideologies and technological advances, at specific points in time. This session invites papers that explore architectural issues and developments that impacted the design of world fairs held after World War Two in the broader context of contemporary political and social conditions. These may include, but are certainly not limited to, the Cold War, the space race, the energy crisis, and the environment.
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