The latter is what inspired America’s pavilion at the Expo Milano 2015, which opened this week in Italy. America’s pavilion—which you can think of as a kind of giant exhibit showcasing 🇺🇸 American products—was designed by the New York architect James Biber, along with signage by Michael Bierut of Pentagram.
It’s hard to talk about American food products without talking about junk food. Or chemicals. Or fast food. And it seems like the architects took on the challenge in a very smart way, by showcasing not junk food, but street food. Biber and the design team workers with experts to build a menu of street food to serve out of food trucks—definitely the sibling of fast food, if a more enlightened one. Meanwhile, the James Beard Foundation is reportedly serving American classics like Thanksgiving Dinner in a pop-up restaurant as part of the Expo.
So what about the building itself? Inside, there will be exhibitions, presentations, and debates until the fair closes in October. But what’s really cool is the exterior. It’s essentially a giant barn covered in signage, designed by Bierut as a wink-y nod to billboards and Americana.
Then there’s the vertical farm, which is made up of almost 1,500 huge lines of louvers contain plantings that can rotate on swivels. Planted in the louvers are 42 different kinds of crops, and they’re arranged in such a way that when they grow and flower, their colors will form a waving pattern along the facade—hence the amber waves of grain that Biber mentioned to the New York Times.
Here’s how the Pavilion’s organizers describe the setup:
The crop wall is a highly engineered system that utilizes 1,494 individual towers, each 4.3 feet (1.3 meters) high, filled with a growing matrix, planted with a crop, hung on a series of movable frames, and watered through a drip irrigation system.
The most important question of all: Can you eat it? Yes, say the organizers. The crops, which range from fennel to bok choy, will be harvested a few different times during the fair. And if you’re near Milan, you can stop in and try some.
Images courtesy of Pentagram and by Saverio Lombardi Vallauri.
Contact the author at kelsey@Gizmodo.com.