USA Pavilion: Creating What’s Next

Since 1851, the World’s Fair has brought people together from every corner of the globe to innovate, collaborate, and showcase the future. With a focus on both educating and entertaining, the Fair has used its global stage to showcase the cultural innovations of countries near and far and it has given us everything from the Eiffel Tower to ice cream. 

Today, the World’s Fair still exists as a bastion of innovation and cross-country collaboration, but now under a different name: The World Expo. And it’s bigger than ever before. This year’s World Expo will be hosted in Dubai and it is expected to get higher foot traffic than the 2018 Olympics. Its location also marks a pivotal moment in history, as the first Expo to be held in the Middle East. Expo 2020 Dubai’s theme, “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”, will provide a platform to foster creativity, innovation, and collaboration within the Middle East and beyond, as 192 countries the largest number of participant nations ever gather in Dubai to showcase what the future holds. 

Amongst this array of nation pavilions, Thinkwell was proudly appointed by the U.S. Department of State as the turnkey designer and producer of the USA Pavilion“As an American/Lebanese dual citizen working in the U.A.E., it is incredibly exciting to be a part of the United States’ participation that is made possible thanks to Thinkwell’s local presence and global footprint,” says Amin Rashmani, Managing Director of Thinkwell, EMEA, who is leading the project collaboration between Thinkwell’s Abu Dhabi Office and its Los Angeles Headquarters & Studio. “Our teams look forward to sharing the innovation and vision of the United States through the design and development of the USA Pavilion at this global event.”

Told through eight immersive exhibits, the USA Pavilion at World Expo 2020 Dubai will celebrate and explore the unique American spirit that harnesses creativity, rewards risk, and creates a brighter future for all. Aligning on a moving walkway, guests will be transported through these immersive environments on a journey to explore how America’s inherent freedoms allow for greater innovation — by discovering America’s history, how it has shaped the world, and what comes next. Thinkwell was tasked with creating an experience that allows visitors to explore a vision of the future, one made possible by American innovation and enterprise.

Each exhibit will feature an original, custom-made dynamic media display, designed and produced by Thinkwell Media, Thinkwell’s award-winning in-house media division. Over the past year, Thinkwell Media has been hard at work creating a variety of custom content for each of the exhibits. This work encompasses a range of creative disciplines, including conducting COVID-safe, remote documentary video interviews with innovators around the globe, orchestrating an original musical score, and designing and producing original hi-resolution animation to be projection mapped on a striking array of unique canvases and surfaces — from the hand and torch of the Statue of Liberty to NASA’s new Artemis space suit to a towering replica of the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket. In the evening hours, the rocket will become the canvas for a nighttime spectacular about U.S. space exploration — all brought to life by projection mapped imagery and a stirring musical score. 

Cory Watson, Vice President, Executive Producer at Thinkwell Media is especially excited to see the team’s work brought to life: “Creating media for the USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 has been the project of a lifetime. We get to tell the stories of bold and daring innovations by creating exciting visual experiences that complement and energize each physical space in the pavilion.” 

In addition to the impressive array of exhibits to see on the inside, the outside of the pavilion also boasts an eye-catching display. The exterior of the U.S. pavilion will feature a facade made up of interlocking metal stars in front of fabric wall panels, designed by legendary architecture firm Woods Bagot. The space between the facade and wall system will allow for the use of connected and dynamic lighting effects that will change throughout the evening, to give the effect that the pavilion is in constant motion. 

“The mockup samples for the star facade became a real source of inspiration,” commented Chuck Roberts, Thinkwell Senior Art Director for the project. “We brought this particular star structure into the pavilion as a graphic language and even used the motif as a shaped 12-meter wide projection screen. From there, the stars seemed to take over other areas organically.” 

With only 10 months until opening day, Thinkwell’s team of writers, producers, project managers, animators, art directors, graphic designers, and more are currently hard at work putting the pavilion into place, and getting it ready for its debut on October 1, 2021. On site, the team completed the installation of the Falcon 9, Block 5 rocket replica, which stands at an astounding 137 feet high (42 meters). This highly detailed replica promises to be one of the big visual icons of this Expo. 

“There is a lot of fantastic architecture on the Expo site, but nothing quite like this,” Thinkwell Creative Director Pete Ford remarked as the final pieces of the landing gear were being assembled last November. “This rocket is beautiful, and it makes a huge statement about American innovation. It’s unlike anything else at Expo. The view of the Falcon 9 alone will draw guests from all over the site, and this will be a ‘must-see’ pavilion.”

Thinkwell will also be working closely with Global Ties U.S., which will recruit youth ambassadors to serve as guides in the pavilion and program cultural performances that reflect the geographic and cultural richness of America.

Expo 2020 Dubai will run from October 1, 2021 – March 31, 2022. Come visit the USA Pavilion and discover for yourself what the future holds.