The Candela Structures


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Frequently Asked Questions

So what's this all about? This site is one facet of an ongoing research project devoted to a pair of fiberglass shell canopies located along the Flushing Bay Promenade in Queens, New York. The two structures, plus a third one that was relocated to the northern Adirondacks, were originally built for the 1964-65 World's Fair, where they served as small exhibit spaces. For years they've been called the Candela Structures, though they deserve a more suitable name.

Who are you? Paul Lukas, a journalist (more about him here), and Kirsten Hively, a designer (links to some of her projects are here).

Why are you doing this? Because we think these pavilions are really cool and that they deserve more attention than they've gotten over the years. We're also concerned about their deteriorating condition and would like to see them restored. Basically, we've decided to become their advocates.

Why are they called "Candela Structures"? We're not sure. At first we thought it was because they were designed by the Spanish architect FĂ©lix Candela, but we now know that he didn't design them. The structures do look a lot like his work, so the name may have been given by someone as a sort of shorthand — a simpler way of saying "Candela-esque structures" or "structures in the style of Candela." It's not clear exactly when the name came about or who coined it, but it appears to have been bestowed upon the structures after the World's Fair was finished. In other words, it was not their original name, but it's the name they've become known by today.

But if Candela didn't design them, who did? Peter Schladermundt, who died in 1975, designed the entire World's Fair Marina area, including the pavilions.

So shouldn't you stop calling them Candela Structures, since Candela had nothing to do with them? Yeah, but we haven't come up with a new name yet, and we didn't confirm that Schladermundt was the designer until very, very late in the game, so there was no time to come up with a better name before we created the exhibition and this website.

There were originally three structures, but only two are left. What happened to the third one? We're not sure. But we know it was gone from the site by 1966, one year after the Fair's conclusion. Anecdotal evidence suggests that the Coast Guard, which occupied this structure during the Fair, probably removed it from the Fair area and put it somewhere else, but we've been unable to confirm that. Update: we found the missing third structure. After the fair, it was relocated to the Adirondacks and repurposed as a a summer cabin, and we were invited to stay in it! Read more about our visit here.

Most of the World's Fair pavilions were dismantled after the Fair. Why were the two remaining Candela Structures left standing? Fair guidelines stated that all Fair buildings had to be removed from the site "unless special permission for their retention is obtained from the Commissioner of Parks." So the Parks Dept. presumably wanted the Candelas to be kept around, but we haven't found a paper trail indicating the specific thinking behind this. Update: We have learned that the pavilions were all auctioned off after the end of the fair. One was dismantled, transported to the Adirondacks, and repurposed as a summer cabin. The other two were bid on and won by a contractor who only wanted the glass walls. He left the two shells behind, and the Parks Department took over ownership.

The three structures originally had glass walls, but the two remaining ones don't. Why? Good question. A building, complete with walls and doors, would have become an eyesore and a vandalism target if it wasn't regularly occupied and used, so the thinking may have been that open-air shells would be less troublesome to maintain. Also, the Fair only operated from April to October, so the structures probably weren't insulated or otherwise suitable for cold-weather use. All in all, transforming them from offices into quasi-sculptures probably made more sense. But this is all conjecture — we've found no documents spelling out the thinking behind this. Update: See above!

I've lived in New York for years and have never seen or even heard about these things. How come? We think we're pretty observant New Yorkers ourselves, but we lived in the city for 21 and 15 years, respectively, before we encountered the Candelas. New York is full of untold stories, overlooked landscape details, and things we take for granted because they're just there. The Candelas appear to fit those descriptions. We hope that's no longer the case by the time we're done with this project.

And when will that be? Whenever. The nice thing about an initiative like this is that there's no deadline. We'll keep gathering information as long as it seems worthwhile. Meanwhile, we'll share our findings and keep the Candelas in the public eye when we're able.

Now that the exhibit's run at the Reliquary is over, will it be displayed anywhere else? At present, there are no plans for that, but you can now see most of the content from the show in the Exhibit section.

You should write a book or something. Yes, we should.

OK, you've convinced me. What can I do to help? First and foremost, visit the Candelas. Once you see them in person, the enthusiasm usually takes care of itself. Bring your friends, take photos and email them around, and spread the word.

Are souvenirs from this project available? You bet — visit the Fiberglass_Research shop on

I have photos and/or information about the pavilions. What should I do? Please contact us!

This is all really interesting, but I'm getting kind of sick of the word "structures." Tell us about it.