This presentation is part of Are We There Yet? Preservation of Roadside Architecture & Attractions Symposium, Tulsa, Oklahoma, April 10-12, 2018.

By Frank Matero


In 1964 the largest map pavement since the 6th century Madaba floor mosaic was realized by famed American architect Philip Johnson for the New York State Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair.   Known as the “Tent of Tomorrow”, the 12-story open-air elliptical pavilion became the symbol of the fair and for its main floor, Johnson designed a 130-foot by 166-foot terrazzo replica of a Texaco New York state road map. Capturing the spirit, creativity, and dynamism of the 1960s, the map was among the first large-scale Pop Art monuments for public consumption and it became an immediate cultural icon that married the nation’s automobile culture and one its most popular symbols-the great American road map-with the ancient tradition and technique of terrazzo.  Today it is one of a handful of artworks to survive from the fair in situ despite its poor condition.

A comprehensive documentation and model conservation program was developed through a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts. The materials and techniques of fabrication were researched and existing conditions were recorded allowing a detailed GIS based analysis of performance and deterioration leading to a prioritized assessment and a treatment program.  Intervention considerations have addressed the performance and deterioration issues of modern materials used in a tradition manner (opus signinum).  Of equal concern has been the issue of how to present this Pop Art pavement as an aged or renewed work. Technical treatment issues have included research and testing on a wide range of intervention materials and methods including cleaning, injection grouting, reinforcement, and infill materials.

The Texaco map pavement project addresses the many traditional and unorthodox problems related to the conservation and presentation of large-scale modern works.   As a pavement and monumental work of art, the map now must be reconsidered as its condition and significance challenges its interpretation, display and use as a central component in the preservation of the Pavilion.


Frank G. Matero is Professor of Architecture and Chair of the Graduate Program in Historic Preservation. He is Director and founder of the Architectural Conservation Laboratory (1991) and a member of the Graduate Group in the Department of Art History and Research Associate of the University Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. He is founder and editor-in-chief of Change Over Time, the international journal on conservation and the built environment published by Penn Press.  His teaching and research are focused on historic building technology and the conservation of building materials, with an emphasis on masonry and earthen construction, the conservation of archaeological sites, and issues related to preservation and appropriate technology for traditional societies and places.

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