Expo 2015: USA pavilion

Kerry Boettcher
Wednesday 25 Mar 2015

Biber Architects designs an open, transparent and sustainable pavilion for the USA

In the lead up to the Milan Expo 2015, World Architecture News will be showcasing a new Pavilion each week. 

The theme of this year’s expo is Feeding the Planet: Energy for Life. The structure must be easily dismantled and recycled, have disabled access and have open spaces filled with vegetation. Architects from all over the world are taking part in the Milan Expo 2015 and building their own creative and unique pavilions that reflect the identity of their nations. 

The 2015 USA Milan Expo pavilion contest was posted by WAN’s Business Information service in January 2014. The full competition brief can be found here. For a free trial contact Katerina Hojgrova.

With less than six weeks to go to the opening of this year’s Expo, the USA are preparing to unveil their pavilion: Food 2.0: United to Feed the Planet. Designed by Biber Architects, it features an open, airy, barn-inspired structure with ecological elements including a vertical farm. It’s most striking feature is a 10,000 sq ft smart glass roof, the largest of its kind in the world. Visitors will be able to control the panels from a touchscreen tablet and the entire roof will be returned to the manufacturer, Isoclima, at the end of the Expo for reuse in other buildings. 

The architects wanted the design to reflect American culture and have built in many cultural references. According to James Biber of Biber Architects: “The pavilion itself is a scaffolding for ideas, a rethinking of the nature of the expo pavilion and of America as a force in world food.”

Visitors will be greeted by a subtle reference to ‘Old Glory’ with a perforated aluminium façade of red, white and blue. They then enter through an airplane-hangar-sized door to another distinctly American food-related imaged: the boardwalk. Made of salvaged lumber from the old Coney Island boardwalk, the walkway rises from the ground level to the second floor, serving as the main forum for self-guided viewing. On the top floor, a rooftop terrace with dimmable smart glass will host parties. 

The vertical farm, the length of an American football field is a 7,000 sq ft hydroponic façade. Forty-two varieties of fruits, vegetables, grains and herbs will be sustained in containers made from recycled plastic bottles, irrigated by a drip system and harvested every two weeks during the Expo. 

There will also be a series of food trucks that will highlight the USA’s prolific street food culture while referencing the nation’s diversity, entrepreneurial spirit and fascination with the road. 

According to US Secretary of State, John Kerry: “The Milan Expo is a chance for us to share with the world the work that American scientists, chefs, entrepreneurs, farmers and fishermen all continue to do day in and day out and hopefully help people to understand the ways in which we can make progress in the future.”








Kerry Boettcher

News Editor

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