On the Horizon: USA Pavilion

Designed by Biber Architects, the USA Pavilion will give visitors to the 2015 World's Fair a unique glimpse into the future of food.

by Robert Nieminen

Visitors to the 2015 World’s Fair in Milan will experience a unique glimpse into (and taste of) the future of food—thanks in part to the innovative USA Pavilion, designed by New York-based Biber Architects. The USA Pavilion will thoughtfully respond to the expo’s theme, “Feeding the Planet, Energy for Life,” while also paying homage to the incredibly significant role that America plays in global food production.

“Part of what we’re looking to do is to explain just how much the U.S. is doing to secure the future of the planet,” said James Biber, founder and principal of Biber Architects. “It spends more money on food research than any other country, and it’s the largest exporter of food in the world.”

The USA Pavilion features an open, airy, barn-inspired structure, moving visitors through a series of exhibits to facilitate conversations about America’s role in the global food system. Planned ecological elements include a harvestable vertical farm, rainwater irrigation system, and photovoltaic panels, as well as uniquely American features such as regional food trucks and an expansive, recycled wood boardwalk, which is a nod to Americans’ love of the road and automobiles, according to Biber.

Sustainable design elements aren’t incorporated into the Pavilion just for show, only to be disassembled and shipped elsewhere, consuming a vast amount of energy in the process. Biber Architects plans to give back manufacturers’ materials such as salvaged wood, glass used on the roof canopy—even the elevators and escalators will be returned for resale and reuse.

“As much as possible, we are building the Pavilion of recyclable materials—but even more importantly, reusable components. We have a vertical farm on one side of the Pavilion that stretches along the entire length of the Pavilion, almost as long as a football field. That entire piece, we’re actually looking for a new home for that. So we’re hoping that some of the more didactic elements have a life beyond the six months of the Expo,” he explained.