Mode l Tes t
For a signature exhibit at the New York World’s Fair, Eastman Kodak hired renowned engineer Lev Zetlin to design an unusual concrete shell
structure. The shape of the roof structure, intended to imitate a profile of the moon’s surface, defied mathematical description. Zetlin hiredWJE
to create, instrument, and test a scale model of the roof structure.
Given the unique geometry of the Kodak Pavilion, considerable craftsmanship and creativity were required to build and test the model. The test
results furnished to the client were crucial; Zetlin used the data from the model tests to design the reinforcing steel within the thin concrete shell.
The project enabled WJE to showcase its expertise and unique capabilities to an international audience at the New York World’s Fair.
Notes of Interest
• The pavilion’s moon-shaped roof reflected America’s
growing interest in space exploration during the 1960s.
After the successful launch of the satellite Sputnik in 1957,
the United States and the Soviet Union were engaged in
a “space race” to see which country could be the first to
send a man to the moon.
• A wood form for the test model was generated by scaling
off the artist’s sculpture of the structure. The wood form
was meticulously chiseled, shaved, and sanded down until
its shape coincided with the shape of the structure.
• A sheet of Plexiglas was then heated and pressed
against the wood form with vacuum pressure. In order
to eliminate the residual stresses or “memory” created by
the deformation of the Plexiglas sheet, it had to be slowly
heated again to anneal the material. At that point, the
model could be instrumented and tested.
WJE 50 Years