The United States pavilion at the next world expo—scheduled to open in Dubai on October 20, 2020—will be a cylindrical building that “is an expression of movement,” according to its architect, Curtis Fentress of Denver-based Fentress Architects. Inside, transportation-themed exhibitions (the official title is “What Moves You”) will include a ride provided by Virgin Hyperloop One, a California-based company that plans to move vehicles through tubes at up to 670 miles per hour. “We designed the building to be circular in form, and it has some slants to the elevation that sort of sense movement and make you feel that the building is maybe moving,” Fentress said in a video released at a press conference in Dubai.
The client is Pavilion USA 2020, a private consortium operating with State Department approval. A spokesman for the consortium, Daniel Bremer-Wirtig, said that the expected budget for the pavilion is $60 million, which will be raised in part from sponsors Virgin Hyperloop One and PepsiCo. The organizers of the last U.S. expo pavilion, in Milan in 2015, declared bankruptcy, leaving vendors unpaid. In July, Fentress told RECORD, “This has not been a very successful venture for previous architects. We’re trying to approach this in a business-like and expedient manner.” On the just-released video he said the pavilion “is a real big responsibility. We’re going to have maybe 25 million people viewing this building in a six-month period, which is more than we might have visiting the Mall in Washington, D.C., in a similar period of time.”
Other American firms represented at the expo will include Chicago's Adrian Smith + Gordon Gill Architecture. Their Al Wasl Plaza—a central event space beneath a 213-foot-high dome—will dwarf the 69-foot-high U.S. pavilion.