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Other Elements

Entrance Tunnel : Robert Breer
Engineering : John Pearce

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Robert Breer Entrance Tunnel on the right of the Pavilion.

It had been decided that the visitor would enter the Pavilion through a tunnel leading down to a large clam-shell shaped room, that they would cross before climbing stairs to the Mirror Dome space. Robert Breer envisioned the entrance tunnel as a cylindrical tube that came up out of the ground, that the visitor would enter and go down a staircase inside the tube. Breer remembers:

"The Japanese architect who worked for the Takenaka Construction Company changed this idea and made a drawing where he had squared off the end of the entrance tunnel making it perpendicular to the ground –to keep out the rain. But I thought that killed the whole feeling that I had of entering something mysterious and going into like going onto a ship or into another space. So for me it was important that this be this tube be coming up out of the ground so it's mysterious and maybe slightly threatening to the fairgoers.


So I made a drawing of his entrance and one of mine, and I put an X through his. I sent this drawing to New York to our architect John Pearce to tell him that we had to do something about this. He sent the drawing to Japan, and we got a very angry note back that they were insulted when I put an 'X' over this guy's well-designed entrance. And then we were told that Takenaka, the biggest construction company in Japan, was building 21 pavilions for Expo ’70 and that the Russians and US were on the bottom of the list of being the most difficult and with complicated ideas. Pepsi Cola was very upset that we would be knocked off their list that they wouldn't build the Pavilion, and said that we had to placate this architect somehow. So I had to go to Japan. When I got to the meeting, we had the Japanese company representatives, engineers and interpreters on one side of the long table with the architect in the middle. And then I sat on the other side with the Pepsi Cola people and translators. I saw that over his head, the architect had the same drawing of the two entrance tunnels, but with an X through my entrance design. So it was like war.

In this very formal meeting,  the architect began by saying through the interpreter that it was conceivable that as an American I didn't appreciate the glorious subtle, formal ceremonial meanings of entrances to the Japanese,  and that my image of an entrance wouldn't match this idea in Japan. I didn't feel like being very aggressive; and he and I agreed to meet after lunch, just the two of us with an interpreter, and that defused the whole thing. He became this very friendly person. And he said he understood, that as a child, he played in culverts under bridges and things and he got the spirit of this entrance, we want it and he will go along with it, the intention of this kind of funny entrance, and agreed to it. And I had him sign a drawing of the tube-like   entrance that we had wanted in the beginning. He tricked me a little bit because he doubled the size of it. It was meant to be a more narrow entrance, and therefore seem a little more adventurous and maybe even a little bit threatening to go down this tube into a dark room. But that was okay; he got his and I got mine. The double size worked fine.

On the exit ramps he did the same thing. We wanted the exit ramps to be like gangplanks off a ship. They come down off a ship, and have the railing, and it hits the ground at an angle. But he squared them off and put little flower pots on. So again,  but more carefully, we suggested that that wasn't right and he let go of that one too."

The entrance tunnel was completed as a pure white tube form angling out of the floor of the Plaza with no embellishment on its exterior, but with wide painted bands on the interior -- white at the entrance leading to progressively darker greys until the last band was black at the bottom at the entrance to the Clam Room. Here visitors were handed their Handsets, and then entered the Clam Room. The exit ramps were to be completed as radial arms broken in a manner to direct visitors back near the Pavilion's entrance.

Light Steps : Robert Breer

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Visitors would enter the Pavilion though a large circular entrance tunnel and walk down a staircase to the lower level. Upon leaving the tunnel, the visitor would receive handsets and cross a sloped Lightfoot floor section, leading to the Clam Room.


The Light Step floor was planned to have a soft, mysterious surface and would light up under the feet of visitors as they walked across it.  Robert Breer, who saw the floor much like one of his animated films, with visitors creating footsteps across the entrance space, worked with engineer Thomas Fabry, and they developed the idea of a floor surface made up of relatively flat plastic squares, ’packages’ filled with opaque black ink and foam laid on top of a rigid lighted floor. As the visitors stepped on the dark soft layer, the weight of their feet would squeeze the dark liquid foam and ink inside the plastic ’package’ toward the edges, allowing light from below to shine through, light that would then disappear quickly as the visitors took another step forward. Thus, the visitors created brilliant light footsteps appearing out of the blackness as they passed through the space.


Breer worked on the floor in the weeks before the opening of the Pavilion, laying out the squares of dark ink and foam, but some technical problems were not solved, and the Light Step floor was never fully installed nor operational.

Suntrak : Forrest Myers
Engineer : Niels O. Young

Suntrack model

Model of Suntrak

Frosty Myers proposed a sculpture on the plaza of the Pavilion that would interact with Nakaya’s Fog sculpture by following the sun and sending a beam of light from the sun to a fixed spot on the Pavilion Dome, cutting through the fog surrounding the building. He collaborated with scientist Niels O. Young to research the mechanism for tracking the sun and creating the large beam of light, then to design and build the Suntrak.


They developed a 30' sculpture for the Pavilion plaza that would make a 10' sunbeam and throw it through the fog to a fixed place on the Pavilion. A 5' x 8' elliptical mirror would rotate once a day to follow the sun and would form a circular sunbeam; the mirror constantly reflecting the sunbeam to a large, stationary 10' triangular mirror. 

During the installation of Suntrak, the heavy steel armature that held the two mirrors buckled under the combined weight of the mirrors. There had been a mistake in reading the specifications for the armature. The sculpture was dismantled; and plans to rebuild and reinstall it were never realized.

Pepsi-Cola Sign Proposal : Robert Whitman

About June 1969, Robert Whitman assumed charge of a Pepsi-Cola sign to be placed on the side of the main road leading to the fair's amusement area. In July 1969, he consulted with RCA Research Laboratories on using liquid crystals to display one letter of "Pepsi" at a time and instantly switch it to the next. After this, Whitman and John Forkner, who had been working together through the "Art and Technology" program of the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, proposed using concave mirrors to create a three-dimensional real image of the company’s trademark.

The project was estimated to cost about $30,000, and perhaps it would not be completed until a month after Expo's opening. After Whitman suggested a man continuously painting "Pepsi-Cola" on a large cylinder with another man continuously washing it off, which did not please Pepsi, Pepsi independently took on the design and development of the sign, in which large letters spelling Pepsi were constructed with holders for liquid crystal material flling the front of the letters, that changed subtly as the ambient temperature changed.

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