Special Features

The USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai Unveils National Partners

 Expo 2020 Dubai — the next World’s Fair — may be two years away, but plans and preparation are well under way for the USA Pavilion. Recently, the U.S. Department of State announced that Big Things Group, leading the consortium Pavilion USA 2020, was appointed to oversee the fundraising, project management, design, construction, operation, and disassembly and removal of the USA Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai. Following a nation-wide request for proposal led by the Department of State, Pavilion USA 2020 will now begin a multi-year partnership to bring the USA Pavilion to life, a huge undertaking that will require the collaboration of its creative, commercial, and cultural partners from across the 50 United States.

Pavilion USA 2020’s winning design plans for the USA Pavilion were based on the theme, “What Moves You,” and will feature highlights of American culture, leading technological revolutions in mobility, and much more. The team behind the new concept is a consortium of top individuals and agencies who will work together to make the USA Pavilion a showcase of the innovation, creativity, and diversity that defines the United States. Key areas of focus include:

Leadership and Fundraising will be led by Big Things Group (BTG) and its principals Frederick M. Bush, who served as Commissioner General of the 1992 World’s Fair in Seville, Spain; and Gregory D. Houston, a leading figure in international public diplomacy and public-private partnership development. Combined, Mr. Bush and Mr. Houston have raised more than $1 billion in funding and sponsorship for domestic and international projects, with a focus on major events that develop stronger ties between the U.S. and the world. BTG’s network of associates include leading fundraisers and philanthropic consultants in nearly all major donor markets throughout the United States as well as numerous funding centers abroad. 

Pavilion Architecture will be developed by Colorado-based Curtis Fentress, one of the premier U.S. architects of our day. Mr. Fentress is the founder of  Fentress Architects and winner of numerous international awards, including the Thomas Jefferson Award for Public Architecture. He is internationally known as an innovative, award-winning designer of public architecture including airports, museums, convention centers, laboratories, higher education, civic, and government buildings. Fentress Architects is internationally recognized for the design of Denver International Airport and Incheon International Airport in South Korea.

Exhibit and Experience Design will be created by Michigan-based George P. Johnson Experience Marketing (GPJ), the largest experiential and event marketing agency in the world. Founded more than 100 years ago in Detroit, GPJ’s large-scale installation work includes a six-acre multifaceted Chrysler experience at the 1964 World’s Fair New York, pavilions at the Shanghai and Aichi World Expos, and award-winning exhibitions at the Beijing, Salt Lake City, London, and Rio de Janeiro Olympic games. They will work in collaboration with Action Impact, their Dubai-based strategic partner that created the Expo 2020 Dubai exhibition within the UAE pavilion at Expo 2015. They will also collaborate with fellow Project Worldwide sister agency  Spinifex Group for the production of interactive experiences that bring mobility innovation stories to life. GPJ’s work will be led by Senior Vice President of Pavilion Activations, David Rich, and Vice President and Executive Creative Director, Paul Hemsworth.

Design Management will be provided by Virginia-based Giuliani Associates Architects. Giuliani Associates is an architecture, engineering, and technology firm with experience in the public and private sectors. Joining Giuliani Associates, Fentress Architects, and George P. Johnson Experience Marketing as key partners in the design team are Onuma, Inc., Thornton Tomasetti, and Syska Hennessy Group.

Cultural Programming will be led by Global Ties U.S., which has a 60-year partnership with the U.S. Department of State to coordinate international exchange programs that attract over 5,000 current and future leaders to the United States annually. With chapters of citizen diplomats in over 80 U.S. cities, their reach will ensure the USA Pavilion reflects the creativity, diversity, and nuance of every part of the United States. Global Ties U.S. will also be supported by G7 Entertainment Marketing in the areas of celebrity talent coordination and on-site production of all performances.

Pavilion Design Strategy & Monitoring and Evaluation will be supported via consultation by Dr. Jay Wang, Director of the Center on Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California (CPD). Dr. Wang is considered the leading academic expert in the design of Expo pavilions for country promotion purposes and has written extensively on strategy and implementation within past Expos. As a strategic partner and a recognized leader in the field of public diplomacy, CPD will contribute to the project by providing research and evaluation tools to the designers, and public diplomacy training to all staff, volunteers, and ambassador-guides.

Student and Alumni Ambassador Programs will be managed through the combined efforts of Global Ties U.S., the USC Center on Public Diplomacy, and local partners in the United Arab Emirates. These flagship programs of the USA Pavilion will recruit, train, and manage young leaders from across the United States, as well as alumni from U.S. Government exchange programs, who will help tell America’s story at the U.S. pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai.

Financial Management will be overseen by BTG CFO Thomas Downing, a leading expert in U.S. Government financial compliance and management. Working with Maryland-based accounting firm Gelman Rosenberg & Freedman, pre-eminent in advising and auditing organizations that implement programs for USAID and Department of State, Pavilion USA 2020 will operate under the most comprehensive set of financial controls ever implemented for a U.S. expo pavilion. 

Advising Pavilion USA 2020 are a diverse and talented set of leaders from across the United States and the UAE. They include former NASA Administrator Sean O’Keefe; former Secretary of Commerce Barbara Hackman Franklin; President of the Aldrin Space Foundation Dr. Andrew Aldrin; Executive Director of the Middle East Council of Gulf Chambers of Commerce Mike Jones; former USAID Administrator (acting) Alonzo Fulgham; Director of TechStars Dubai Ramzi Ismail; former U.S. Ambassador J. Steven Rhodes; CPD’s Dr. Jay Wang; Director of NYU-Abu Dhabi Media Lab Matt Karau; Founder of Applied Minds Bran Ferren; Celebrity Manager and television producer Ken Kragen; and former Chairman of Columbia Pictures Herman Rush.

According to Frederick Bush, “Few events in human history have had the scale and size of Expo 2020 Dubai. Our groups take the opportunity to represent the United States and all its nuance, diversity and talent as an awe-inspiring challenge. We are proud of the teams we have assembled for this important cause and look forward to raising the funds and creating the experiences that will make all 325 million Americans proud.”

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