When planning for the World Exposition in Knoxville in 1982 was underway, Charlie Smith was of the famous local architect Bruce McCarty, who was part of the team overseeing the master plan for the trade fair. I was a young architect who worked for a company.
One day, when the trade fair venue began to bear fruit, Smith was told that the trade fair planners needed someone who knew the design and could work with architects, engineers and contractors. So he became Vice President of Site Development.
“I oversaw all the design and construction of the fair,” he proudly recalled when he recently recalled just below the Sunsphere at the World Fair Park in connection with the 40th anniversary of the fair.
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It was a big job for those who were just starting their architectural career after getting a bachelor’s degree from the University of Tennessee, but he was not afraid to accept it.
“I felt very comfortable because I visited many other World Exposition venues and worked with 7 architects and 10 contractors,” he said.
Mission to China for World Expo
But as part of this work, he was a little nervous, or at least excited. He one day fair President Bo Roberts asked him if his passport had been renewed, and he told Smith that they had a special mission for him.
He went to the People’s Republic of China and negotiated with Chinese authorities to bring back some notable relics that could be used at the China Pavilion at the trade fair. To support his negotiations, he was given a $ 1 million loan facility. And the goal was ambitious — regaining some important artifacts like part of the Great Wall.
Like a secret envoy of several important government missions, including high-level negotiations, he met with Chinese officials, and the visit proved to be fruitful for the trade fair.
“It took almost seven days of negotiations before the Foreign Minister agreed that these very famous stones would leave the country for the first time with terracotta sculptures, horses and warriors,” he recalls. bottom.
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“And while I was there, I met an architect (in China) and sketched the design of the building (pavilion),” he continued. “I went back to Knoxville and started building steel while the Chinese were assembling the plywood panels. Then they were installed.”
He got only eight stones of the Great Wall and wanted about 50, but a large photo of the Great Wall turned out to be a great background and people took pictures there. ..
The most visited pavilion at the trade fair was the Chinese pavilion (which also included an eye-catching movie for those waiting in line), so it turned out that the whole trip was very successful. rice field. While some of the pavilions in other countries focused on slightly dry energy-themed exhibits, the Chinese pavilions were like visiting a world-famous museum.
“An additional million people have come to the Knoxville World Trade Fair for an exhibition in China,” he said. “It was the first time in America”
Smith has many other memories of preparing for the fair. From a box-like tunnel built underneath where water builds a former railroad yard, from a pedestrian traffic flow pattern designed as shown in Figure 8 to make it easier to cross small hills. Senator Ernest “Fritz” Hollings of South Carolina does not want to invest a lot of money in the now devastated US pavilion. As a result, it has a more temporary structure.
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Smith also remembered only one problem with the layout and design of the park, which was due to technology. Some cashiers on tickets along the entrance to Henry Street weren’t working one day, and the line was backed up. To prevent potential injuries from dense bodies, fair officials have decided to open the gates and allow people to enter for a period of time free of charge.
But most of the fairs were fun. Smith recalled meeting celebrities such as beer executive Peter Straw and entertainer Dyna Shore and watching President Ronald Reagan hold a trade fair in a flag court. “I’m glad we opened the store,” he said.
That year the world came to Knoxville, but Smith soon went to the world. With a visit to the fair by Wisconsin fair officials, Smith became involved in the design of other fairs as well as the Olympic venues, including the Atlanta and Sydney Olympics.
But he does not forget to work on the 1982 World’s Fair and positive experiences.
“I can ask anyone at any airport in North America if they went to the Knoxville World Fair,” he said. “I know they had a great time saying they did.”