Over the last two days I’ve received a sudden and unusually large number of emails and phone calls related to the USA pavilion at Expo 2010. Combined with the growing number of negative and caustic reviews of the structure, I’m sensing that more than a few people are looking for an explanation as to how the United States managed to build a pavilion that commentators at Huffington Post have compared to – among other things – “a supply storage shed,” “a temporary NASA administrative building, circa 1970,” and “a combination Bose Sound System/Air Purifier.” I’m going to use this post as a brief guide for reporters and anyone else interested in finding out more about how this happened, as well as a brief guide to what questions still need to be answered and who might be able to answer them.
But first – if you’re looking for a quick route to understanding how the US arrived at its current pavilion, let me humbly suggest “A Sorry Spectacle,” my March 8, 2010 piece for Foreign Policy. In it, I give a concise chronology of events, the key players, issues, and documents. Additional source documents showing the total lack of qualifications of the team selected to manage the US pavilion can be found on my blog, here. What that article and those documents won’t tell you is how a Canadian architect was chosen to design the US pavilion, much less who was responsible for signing off on the selection. Alas, the State Department refuses to answer questions on that subject. So, what follows, after the jump, is a rough chronology of the early stages of the US pavilion – the period when the design and selection would have been finalizes – with additional links to relevant documents and stories, on the evolution of the US pavilion to help reporters get their bearings, and perhaps provide some leads along the way. Continue reading