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Queens Theatre in the Park - Queens, New York
For the 1964 World's Fair Philip Johnson designed the New York State Pavilion in Flushing Meadows/Corona Park. This Disney 360-degree surround cinema was part of the pavilion complex. The audience stood on a flat floor and viewed a film travelog of New York State projected on screens lining the inside of the circular room.
The exterior of the pavilion was used as a feature film location for "The Wiz" and for the final scene of "Men in Black" where the bug tries to leave Earth in one of the towers, which turn out to be twin spaceships.
In the 1970's the surround cinema was converted into a multipurpose legitimate theater. The original cinema had no lobby, no dressing rooms, almost no public toilets, no stage and no stage house. The simple conversion added a stage platform and a seating rake for the audience. The stage and audience shared the 100-foot diameter cylinder. The 1970's stage, audience facilities, and backstage were extremely rudimentary.
20 years of continuous use proved the theater was viable, and it was renovated in 1993.
The 1993 renovation included removing substandard conditions, improving the acoustics, adding simple lighting and rigging, adding front-of-house catwalks, and improving the appearance and function of the theater and support spaces. The original dome was reinforced to accept rigging loads and a new second roof was added to reduce the noise from adjacent LaGuardia Airport. Accessibility was improved throughout and a public elevator was added.
A simple 100-seat flexible studio theater was added downstairs.
Architect: Alfredo De Vido Associates