|Philippe Cousteau, Chief Spokesperson|
In the world of contemporary world’s fairs, there are two “sizes” of expos: the larger, “sanctioned” events like Shanghai’s Expo 2010 and the smaller, “recognized” ones like this year’s Expo 2012 in Yeosu, South Korea – a relationship somewhat analogous to that between the Summer and Winter Olympic Games. The classification system was developed by the organizing body, the Bureau International des Expositions, so that smaller cities in developed nations and larger cities in developing nations could participate.
The United States is an official participant in Yeosu’s ocean-themed world’s fair this year, under the administration of the US Department of State. The USA Pavilion (USAP) is a public-private partnership.
|Andrew Snowhite, CEO|
Unlike larger world’s fairs, in which most countries create their own buildings to house exhibits, these smaller expositions create large, shared spaces for foreign countries; in Korea, the International Pavilion of some 800,000 square feet will house the exhibits of 100+ nations. The result of this arrangement has a happy side-effect for those interested in telling stories: the focus of a pavilion is on its content and a nation’s participation is almost solely based on the interior presentation.
|Robert Ward, Executive Producer|
Orleans. The larger USAP team includes COO Mark Germyn, who was general manager of the USAP at Shanghai’s Expo 2010 (a significantly larger event), Thea Lifetime Achievement Award Recipient and Executive Producer Bob Ward, Chief Spokesperson Philippe Cousteau and CEO Andrew Snowhite.
|Phil Hettema of design firm The Hettema Group|
Those few words, “This is My Ocean. This is Our Ocean,” comprise a large portion of the spoken words of the entire guest experience; the design strives for a universal format that minimizes language barriers.
The pavilion experience begins with a pre-show where a water curtain with projected images divides in two, allowing the audience to pass through to the main theater.
That main theater will show spectacular film footage on an 70-foot by 15-foot screen. Images from around the United States, some of it crowd-sourced from lay contributors, and some of it photographed on location, will all emphasize a personal connection to the oceans. Says Phil Hettema, “the subtext talks about the diversity of coasts and the extent of America’s coastlines. Entertainment and education are blended: “‘A major storm sequence will ‘shake the roof off the theater,'” Hettema adds.
Hettema continues, “We show that there are solutions out there. We show things the US is doing… marine protected areas, technology… something we all have to work together to do. We challenge the audience. The message is not ‘will we make a difference,’ but ‘what difference will I make?’”
The pavilion will also feature video greetings from Clinton and Obama as well as Chief Spokesperson Philippe Cousteau. Also included in the design are a VIP lounge and an area highlighting messages from the pavilion’s corporate sponsors.
From concept to fundraising to design development and construction, the USAP has taken shape in record time, a testament to the professionalism and experience of the USA Pavilion team. Says Hettema, “I believe that the USAP – and the expo as a whole – have the potential to be pretty spectacular.”
Urso Chappell is the founder of ExpoMuseum.com and co-host of the World’s Fair Podcast. Expo 2012 will be his ninth world’s fair so far. He has designed for Nagoya’s Expo 2005, written for Shanghai’s Expo 2010 and Yeosu’s Expo 2012, and his photographs of expo mascots been featured in Shanghai’s Urban Planning Museum.
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