Installing Rendezvous in Space

As millions of people visited the first season of the 1964-65 World’s Fair, the Hall of Science was being erected before their eyes, looming behind the rockets in the Space Park.  Work began on the Hall in June of 1963, but the Hall would not open until September of 1964. Workers had to first excavate the site, clearing away an amount of soil equal in weight to the building itself.  Next, 90-ft tall curving concrete walls with no corners or straight segments were poured in place. Finally, more than five thousand 2×3-ft panels were hung side by side using hooks inlaid into the concrete. The panels contained chips of cobalt blue stained glass, giving visitors the sense of standing in outer space.

At the building dedication, architect Wallace Harrison said of the project: “… we tried to see in what way we could build an enormous wall around a great space, which would be of simple construction, in a way never done before by man and filled with an ever-changing blue which would simulate the feeling that man has when he really experiences the joy of pure space.”

The Great Hall was built for an exhibition sponsored by Martin Marietta called Rendezvous in Spacewhich culminated with a live demonstration of a docking between a model “space taxi” and an orbiting laboratory, suspended from the ceiling above. The show began with a documentary film produced by Frank Capra (his final film.) Narrated by Danny Thomas, featuring Mel Blanc (uncredited) as the voice of the moon.

Here we see the space taxi and orbiting laboratory being hoisted up and lowered into the Great Hall through its roof. You can also see in the background the final phases of construction on the Great Hall itself.

 

rendezvous loadin1Hoisting the vehicles.

           rendezvous loadin2Workers wait on the roof as the orbiting laboratory and space taxi are hoisted up.

rendezvous loadin3Lowering through the roof.

rendezvous loadin4Note one section of the Great Hall curtain wall still without its stained glass panels.

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