Sesquicentennial Fair

of the May Revolution

In November 1960 the National Sesquicentennial Fair Exhibition was held to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the May Revolution, in a property between the railroad tracks and the Faculty of Law (UBA) in Recoleta. In the midst of the developmentalism trend led by Arturo Frondizi (1958 – 1962), the celebration aimed to revitalize the image of a modernized Argentina. The Directorate of Architecture and Planning was led by César Jannello alongside a technical team that included Silvio Grichener, Eduardo Joselevich, and Gonzalo Arias. 

Poster proposal for the Sesquicentennial Fair: “Argentina in Time and in the World”. Graphic design: Rómulo Macció.

1- View of the Pavilion of the National Commission for Culture. Fundación IDA. Patrimonial fund: Jannello César.

2/3- View of the Pavilion of the National Commission for Culture. Fundación IDA. Nuestra Arquitectura magazine, Nº 378, Mayo 1961, Buenos Aires.

The prism has two levels, it is made of iron panels and cross-linked beams, glass surfaces and metal parasols are used as enclosures. Currently, the first floor hosts the pavilion for temporary exhibitions of the National Museum of Fine Arts and, on the ground floor, the headquarters of the Association of Friends of the National Museum of Fine Arts can be found. Architectural project: Rubén Fraile and Jorge Gómez Alais. Consultancy: César Jannello.

PAVILION OF THE NATIONAL COMMISSION FOR CULTURE

The Pavilion of the National Commission of Culture was built in 1960 as part of the Sesquicentennial Fair. The architectural project was developed by Jorge Gómez Alais and Rubén Fraile with the advice of César Jannello.

Its main characteristic is that it was built as a permanent site, since it would remain in the same location when the Fair ended. It was located in the rear area of the Fine Arts building, a treeless space between the museum and Figueroa Alcorta Avenue and parallel to that road. It was intended to become an annex to the Fine Arts building, the old Bombas building in the city, recycled in the early 1930s by the architect Alejandro Bustillo and would turn into the main exhibition hall after the fair.

In the context of the Fair, within the simple parallelepiped-shaped space, the architecture tried to express in a diverse way the functions planned for the pavilion, in particular the goal of hosting an exhibition program to showcase the artistic production of the time: microcinema, an exhibition hall of painting and sculpture (first floor), warehouse, bar and confectionery, and lobby.

The room on the first floor worked as a dynamic space due to the arrangement of suspended panels and the entry of light. It hosted the most important national and international temporary exhibitions such as: Deira, Macció, Noé y de la Vega (1963), From Cézanne to Miró (MoMA, 1968), Bauhaus (1970), Raquel Forner: retrospective (1983), Alfredo Hlito (1987), Marc Chagall (1989), Antonio Seguí (1991), From Picasso to Barceló (2001), Rodin (2001), Rembrandt in Argentina (2002), Emilio Pettoruti: 1892-1971 (2004), Maldonado: an itinerary (2007), Berni: Argentine narratives (2010), Caravaggio (2012), Pío Collivadino (2013), Tekopora: Native and popular art of Paraguay (2015), Orozco, Rivera, Siqueiros (2016), Norberto Gómez (2016), Xul Solar (2017), Noé (2017), Joan Miró, Reina Sofía Museum collection (2017), J.M.W. Turner, Tate collection (2018), Carlos Alonso (2019), Juan Carlos Distéfano (2022), among many others.

In the original project, the architect Samuel Oliver, secretary of the museum, also acted as an advisor. The volume references the work of Mies van der Rohe, while expressing the referential relationships between Jannello’s way of projecting and the main discussion topics that defined the discipline in that era: Concrete Art and ephemeral architecture as a laboratory of technological, formal and spatial innovation. In the design of the pavilion, the constructive approach had primacy, an adequate structural solution that considered both a quick assembly and the availability of materials produced by the local industry.

Currently, on the ground floor, the facilities of the Friends of Fine Arts include classrooms for courses and workshops, an auditorium, the Alcorta Fine Arts store, administration offices, and the gastronomic complex Fine Arts Bar.

National Museum
of Fine Arts

Temporary exhibitions of the National Museum of Fine Arts Pavilion.

Friends of
Fine Arts

1- Facade of the Friends of Fine Arts headquarters
2 – Friends of Fine Arts Auditorium

Enhancement

In 2020, a process of restoration and enhancement of the building began with the aim of recovering the original language of materials and architecture devised by Jannello, Fraile, and Gómez Alaiz. At the same time, the project seeks to provide an integrative circulation that connects the different spaces through updating the site to better cater the programs carried out at present by the Friends of Fine Arts and the Museum.

View of the Pavilion of the National Commission for Culture. Fundación IDA. Nuestra Arquitectura magazine, Nº 378, Mayo 1961, Buenos Aires.

President Arturo Frondizi (1958 – 1962) at the inauguration of the National Sesquicentennial Fair Exhibition. General Archive of the Nation.

View of the set of ephemeral constructions at the National Fair Exhibition of the Sesquicentennial of the May Revolution.

Boys and girls at the National Sesquicentennial Fair.

View of the IKA Pavilion (Industria Kaiser Argentina) and the Italpark, the largest amusement park in Latin America, inaugurated the same year as the fair.

SESQUICENTENNIAL FAIR OF THE MAY REVOLUTION

Selection of pavilions and monuments that display ephemeral architecture solutions

Entrance and symbol

The Fair offered a sample of innovations from Argentina and abroad. Upon entering, the symbol of the exhibition was erected with a sculptural design by Gonzalo Arias, Silvio Grichener, and César Jannello; Atilio Gallo was in charge of calculations. It represented national history through 15 columns with life-size photographs of people.

Open-air auditorium theatre

Based on the concept of environmental integration, it included square stalls arranged diagonally from the stage, thus accommodating 3,900 spectators. With capacity for 100 musicians, the first national rock bands played there. Architects: Eudaldo Vidal, Fernando Saladrigas, and Miguel Carreras. Advisors: Hernán Lavalle Cobo and César Jannello. Calculation: Atilio Gallo.

Association of Banks of the Republic

The 12-meter-high “Monument to Money” was the symbol of this pavilion. It featured four huge coins, held in the air by a structure of metal tensioners, as a metaphor for economic development. Sculptural design: Mario Roberto Alvarez; calculation: Roberto Migliaro and Atilio Gallo.

Pedestrian bridge

The Figueroa Alcorta bridge was designed by César Jannello, Silvio Grichener, and Atilio Gallo. Considered a masterpiece made of reinforced concrete architecture, its curved, light, and symmetrical shape integrates organically with the landscape. It was demolished in 1975 and rebuilt in 1979.

Popular culture

Elements of indigenous craftsmanship were exhibited, thus valuing federal trades. Fernando Saladrigas proposed, on behalf of the technical office, two well-defined places (Argentine Popular Universities and Popular Culture) united in their structure to constitute a single space.

Municipality of Buenos Aires / Water and energy

With the goal of exhibiting the work of developmental policies and the promotion of “modernization”, Ministries such as Communications (Esteban Insausti and Hugo Tosoni), Public Works (Jorge López), Municipality (Severo Yantorno, Hugo Medici, and Juan Braini), and Water and Energy (Juan Carlos Andersen) were installed, presenting innovative structures

Planning was led by César Jannello alongside a technical team that included Silvio Grichener, Eduardo Joselevich, and Gonzalo Arias.
This is a selection of pavilions and monuments that display ephemeral architecture solutions.

IKA (Industrias Kaiser Argentina)

The geodesic dome designed by the American Richard Buckminster Fuller was built using removable metal beams and aluminum modules, by the company’s technical office. At the end of the fair, the pavilion was reinstalled in Cordoba to house the Institute of Culture and Sport of IKA.

Shell Argentina

Shell presented a polyhedron of pentagonal faces, designed by SEPRA (Federico Peralta Ramos, Santiago Sánchez Elía, Alfredo Agostini, Héctor Coppola, and Juan Molinos), surrounded by green areas and a water pond. Inside, a multimedia show by Onda Studio was presented.

CRISTALPLANO

Antonio Bonet and Nelida Gurevich sought the essence of glass, placing the metal construction on a water mirror. The surrounding open spaces were integrated through walkways and wide transparent and colored glass panels.

United States Atomic Energy Commission

One of the most imposing pavilions due to the huge inflatable amoeba it showcased. The piece was designed by North American artist Victor Laundy, based on structural concepts of air support. Inside, visitors could observe an atomic reactor and an audiovisual narration.

IBM (International Business
Machines Corporation)

The pavilion exhibited the first operational IBM 305 RAMAC mega-computer (1956), complemented by other electronic machines in an aim to display a history of media. Located near the entrance, it was designed by Armando D’Ans, Alberto Mendoça Paz, and Federico San Martín.

Citroën Argentina / Argentine
Portland Cement Institute

For Citröen, Ignacio Ramos and Hernán Alvarez Forn (alongside engineers César Baldas and Carlos A. Dodds), built an impressive hyperbolic paraboloid. The Cement Institute was made with high, curved structures created by engineer Sainz Trapaga.

Antartic Pavilion. General Archive of the Nation.

Aerial view of the National Sesquicentennial Fair Exhibition. General Archive of the Nation.

Visitors enjoying the National Sesquicentennial Fair Exhibition. General Archive of the Nation.

Aerial view of the railroad tracks, bordering the National Sesquicentennial Fair Exhibition, the building of the School of Law (University of Buenos Aires), and Figueroa Alcorta Avenue.