Saturday, April 3, 2010

The Singer Bowl - 1964 New York World's Fair

As I sit here, looking out onto a lush backyard of Cala lilies and fig trees with mountains just beyond, I am at peace. I am grateful for the generosity of people who have been moved by our story. . .To date, two people of modest means have each offered to donate $1,000.00 to helping preserve our father’s legacy, and their choice of a signed and numbered print of an original oil painting done by Shirley Erickson shall soon be gracing their wall. . .

So, in gratitude and as a gift for readers of this blog, I shall share with you a less well known story, a story about the Singer Bowl…

In 1964, Singer Sewing Machine Company set out to find an architect who could develop the Singer Bowl for the New York World’s Fair. Singer had acquired ½ of the “Bowl,” a large stadium in Flushings, Queens. Singer intended to display their sewing machines, dress patterns and machine accessories to the millions of visitors who would visit New York City and attend the World’s Fair. But, 6-months before the day the Fair was to open, Singer fired their architect. They were desperate to discover another or face the embarrassment of not having delivered against their promise to have the Bowl refaced and open for visitors.

My father learned about their plight. He was working out of EMMCO stairs and he was a “one-man show.” In a down-market economy, Richard Erickson (chief draftsperson) had found work for architects who designed churches where he worked for two-years.

Don flew to New York to learn about Singer’s requirements for the job; other architects from big firms were also present. After hearing about Singer’s plight from the President and the Board, Don returned to Chicago. And, on the flight back, with a cocktail in hand (and a pretty woman nearby), and so inspired, he began to etch out a design. The woman remarked on the beauty of the sketch, and asked what exactly Don was drawing. He said, “That’s the new Singer Bowl.”

One week later Don returned to New York to present his concept. Other architects sat outside with him, all waiting to present their designs to the President and the Board of Directors. Don watched as these architects walked in with their design boards and conceptual plans. When it was his turn, Don walked in with the cocktail napkin on which was drawn his “thumb nail” sketch for the Singer Bowl. He walked around the room, and spoke of Singer and their machines, the millions of visitors to the fair and his concept of marshalling the visitors through an impressive array of all things Singer. At last, he drew out his thumb nail sketch and presented it to the President, stating that this was his new Singer Bowl . . . Don walked out with the commission and Richard returned to work.

Photos of the Singer Bowl can be found to the right of this blog on the side bar under "About the Architect."


BW Des Plaines said...

was the church firm Stade?

Anonymous said...

Richard Erickson worked for Cooley & Borre in Park Ridge, Illinois.