February 16, 2011 Charles Goodman

The Modern Architecture of the World’s Fairs

National Building Museum

I just went back for my second tour of the National Building Museum’s Designing Tomorrow: America’s World’s Fairs of the 1930s. The exhibit is a first-of-its-kind highlighting the impact the fairs had on introducing modernism to the country. The exhibit is packed with photos, objects and information. I think multiple trips are required to absorb everything. One of the key focuses of the exhibit, which runs through July 10, is the various styles of modern corporate and residential architecture that were displayed at the fairs around the country. Home builders used rows of model homes to display the latest in home design, technology and furniture. Companies used architecture and design to promote their goods of the future. The government also was not to be outdone.  D.C.’s very own Charles Goodman played a key role in promoting the United States, with the stripped classicism of his Federal Building for the New York World’s Fair. Before launching his modernist residential practice, Goodman worked as a government architect for the Public Buildings Administration. He helped design structures ranging from National Airport to post offices around the country. So make sure to check out the exhibit before July.