The Great Hall

John Hill
6. July 2015
Photo: Jeff Goldbert/Esto

The New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) in Flushing Meadows Corona Park has reopened its Great Hall designed by Wallace K. Harrison for the 1964 World's Fair and recently restored by Ennead Architects.

Its location in Queens may make the NYSCI seem detached from the rest of the New York City's architectural delights, but the Great Hall is one of the most remarkable grand spaces in the city, on par with Grand Central Terminal's main concourse and the New York Public Library's Rose Reading Room. It is one of the few structures built for the 1964 World's Fair that is still standing, and its incoproration into the NYSCI has further helped its longevity.

The most recent restoration work—carried out by Ennead Architects, which designed the museum's 2004 expansion—started in 2008 with repairs to the exterior and concluded inside this year before the 27 June opening of Connected Worlds (video at bottom), the first exhibition in the restored space. The total price tag was $25 million.

Harrison's design is made up of 100-foot-high undulating walls with over 5,000 cobalt-blue dalle de verre panels set into the concrete structure. For the restoration, led by Ennead's Todd Schliemann, each piece of cast glass was removed, cleaned, and in some cases replaced by new panels made by Willet Hauser Studios, the original fabricator.

Historical photo of the Hall of Science (Photo: Ezra Stoller/Esto)
Ennead Architects' 2004 addition with the Great Hall in the distance (Photo: Jeff Goldberg/Esto)
Working on the exterior (Photo: Ennead Architects)
Detail of the interior (Photo: NYSCI)

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