Hall of Science, Flushing Meadows, NY photos. Willet Library Collection, Philadelphia, PA
In the early 60’s Willet Studio illuminated architect Wallace Harrison’s Hall of Science, designed for the 1964-65 World’s Fair, with thousands of pieces of faceted blue glass. The ninety foot serpentine structure is made up of over 5,000 2’x3’ panels pierced with one inch Blenko glass dalles cast into a matrix of reinforced concrete. Designed to give the impression of being in deep space the primary glass color is blue. More than a dozen shades of blue were used, accented with touches of gold, ruby, green and purple to further intensify the feeling of outer space. During the World’s Fair a full-scale model of the lunar rocket was displayed with a film of the planned moon landing which would be accomplished just a few years later.
Due to a tight production schedule, studio artisans worked seven days a week for nearly a year to complete the commission. Hundreds of thousands of pieces of glass were hand cut, chipped and placed on the pattern in the Chestnut Hill studio. Binding was poured, cured and waterproofed and then tested.
Each panel was subjected to controlled laboratory testing- hurricane forced windows beat on them. Water was sprayed on the exterior surfaces while, simultaneously, a vacuum was created on the opposite side to simulate the power of 100 miles per hour winds. Fortunately, they all successfully passed the tests before installation in the building!