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Event Profile


BRC imagination Arts produced both the Information and Communications Pavilion (ICP) and USA Pavilion at Expo 2010. Welcoming more than 42,000 visitors a day, the USA Pavilion was one of the most popular, featuring a three-act sensory experience showcasing American culture, values, and innovation while celebrating the friendship and co-operation between the United States, China and the rest of the world. Sponsored by China Telecom, the award-winning Information & Communications Pavilion offered a shared, full- immersion story with interactive technology. A personal mobile device designed and produced by BRC enabled guests to personalise their experience by interacting with the story and then continue the experience at home via a social network. Here BRC vice-president Christian Lachel (CL), who acted as ICP creative director, and BRC creative director of brand development Greg Lombardo (GL), who oversaw the USA Pavilion as creative director, share their expo experiences.

How does Shanghai compare to previous expos? GL - It doesn't. There has never been an expo of this scale. From attendance, to size to sheer participation, Shanghai has set an incredibly high bar for future expos. I've been most impressed Shanghai's efforts and commitment to have all nations represented. That means the 72 million visitors (many of whom will never have an opportunity to travel outside of China) will have a chance to truly see the world.

What challenges were involved in the design of the pavilions? CL - We faced a variety of challenges on the Information and Communications Pavilion. Firstly, we had a very tight schedule for delivering the pavilion from concept through to production. By the time we had the story and planning approvals we needed from China Mobile and China Telecom, we had roughly nine months to construct, film, produce and install everything. This included the complete industrial design, programming and production of a never-before-seen mass customised mobile device and network solution.

GL - Our challenges were two fold. First, how to tell the story of America to a mostly Chinese audience? It's an amazing opportunity to speak uncensored to over 7 million Chinese visitors, but America is a big and diverse place with literally millions of stories that are worthy of telling. Interestingly, we found the answer to the first challenge in the second: Time. We never were going to have enough time. There were times during the process that we weren't sure if the pavilion was going to happen, but we knew we had to keep moving forward. For the USA to not show up at Expo 2010 was simply not an option, so we just adopted a phrase with the team, “Don't die today.” Our theme statement for the pavilion became “Rising to the Challenge.” This informed our story and helped us tell a truly American tale of optimism, collaboration and innovation.

How did you allow or adjust for crowd control/throughput? CL - We established early in the design & planning process that we would create a linear series of experiences that would help control the crowd pacing and the distribution of the mobile device to every guest. We also decided to keep all of the experiences on a single level to reduce guest issues associated with changing levels and making sure that all visitors had the same experience. GL - We knew from early research studies that the USA Pavilion would be one of the most anticipated and that the crowds would be huge, but we also wanted to give visitors a rich experience that would take them on a journey into the heart and soul of America. In order to accomplish both, we created a pulsed show that told an overarching story across four distinct show spaces. Three of the spaces feature shows which allowed for deeper storytelling but one was standing and we used benches in the other two to speed up loading and unloading. We originally planned on 6 million visitors, or 35,000 a day. We ended up welcoming 45,000 a day and will hit over 7 million visitors by the end of the expo because of the show planning.

What other pavilions inspired you? GL - I loved Chile's pavilion at Expo 2010. It was a lovely show that worked well with the architecture of the space. And I was really blown away by the “National Treasure Scroll” at the China National Pavilion. There's stuff in there that I will definitely borrow in the future.

Audiences interact inside the Information & Commuications Pavilion using personal mobile devices


What technologies or story-telling techniques used in Shanghai do you expect to have an influence on the parks/attractions industry in the years to come? CL - We are already seeing a trend toward mass customised experiences and mobile devices being used to present, enhance and extend the story. The Information and Communications Pavilion is another step in this industry evolution and we're already working on the next generation version of this technology to help create new and more personalised visitor experiences. The use of information and communication technologies (ICT) will only increase in the coming years as designers look at extending the experience beyond the physical attraction.

Those moving balls were everywhere!


The relatively little international interest in Expo 2010 was a great pity, but perhaps indicative of the current status of the World’s Fair movement. If an event of this scale didn’t create a bigger buzz, what can? I doubt if we will ever see an expo like it again. As attractions industry professionals you should ensure you experience the next universal class show in Milan, in 2015. Before that there is the smaller “special class” expo planned for Korea in 2012. Meanwhile New York and several other US cities are vying to host the event in 2020. Whichever you choose to visit, you will find a rich source of new ideas and cutting edge technologies that could just prove essential to the future of your business.

Based at the Montclair State University in New Jersey, USA, Dr Samuels provides consulting services in marketing, facility development, customer service, safety, crowd and event management, plus promotional activities such as birthday parties. He can be reached at

“The Garden” formed part of the show inside the USA Pavilion


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