On October 1, 2021, the USA Pavilion at EXPO 2020 Dubai welcomed guests after being postponed more than a year. The first World Expo held in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region, EXPO 2020 Dubai brought “the greatest showcase of human brilliance and achievement” from 192 countries through the end of March 2022.
The USA Pavilion’s theme – “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of the Future” – celebrates the American people, ideas, and contributions that have changed and improved lives in the United States and around the world. The Pavilion takes visitors on a journey through the past, present, and future of U.S. innovation by featuring iconic American inventions, individuals, and companies, all in a design space highlighted by American Red Oak.
Designed by global architecture studio Woods Bagot and delivered by global experience design firm Thinkwell Group, the USA Pavilion spans over 4,000 square meters and takes visitors on a journey celebrating the past, present, and future of American innovation through eight exhibits featuring national artifacts, such as Thomas Jefferson’s personal copy of the Quran, a scaled replica of the Statue of Liberty’s torch, a touchable lunar sample, and a model of the Mars Opportunity Rover. There is also a signature multimedia presentation titled “The Sky Is No Longer the Limit,” while a full-scale replica of a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket stands 42 meters tall just outside the Pavilion. A light show projected on the exterior of the rocket allows the rocket to dramatically document the story of America’s space exploration to “blast off” each night.
The USA Pavilion is not all high technology, however, and the design incorporates standout elements in naturally finished solid American Red Oak, including the interior main staircase, bench seating and features walk-through in the main auditorium and exterior cladding surrounding the imposing main entrance. Facilitated by the American Hardwood Export Council (AHEC) and donated and installed by Dubai-based wood flooring specialists Lobo & Listone, the Red Oak provides a natural, grounded counterpoint to the otherwise ultramodern design.
Over 250 square meters of Red Oak planks were donated by Lobo & Listone, equating to a volume of approximately 6 cubic meters. Due to the size and rate of growth of the Red Oak resource in the United States, it would take just 6.25 seconds for all the Red Oak used to be replaced in the U.S. hardwood forest through natural regeneration. Furthermore, unless the Red Oak used is burnt or decomposes, it will keep 6.4 metric tons of CO2 equivalent out of the atmosphere.
There were more American hardwoods in the USA Pavilion at EXPO 2020, including engineered White Oak flooring in the giftshop and restaurant, also supplied by Lobo & Listone, as well as American Black Walnut veneers in the rear entrance lobby and throughout the bar and meeting rooms.
“Being a staunch promoter of sustainable living who supplies sustainably sourced wood flooring products in the Middle East, I was delighted to accept the invitation to provide wood flooring and allied works for the USA Pavilion at EXPO 2020 Dubai. Their choice of American Red Oak for the purpose was brilliant, especially as the unique properties of American Red Oak – hard and stable when dry, and easy to finish and stain – made it ideal for the project. A task well accomplished and widely appreciated, it was a project that we prided ourselves in,” commented Francis Lesly Lobo of Lobo & Listone.
According to AHEC Regional Director Roderick Wiles, “Of course it is wonderful to see sustainable American hardwoods in the USA Pavilion – it just makes sense – and I was particularly taken by the Red Oak cladding at the main entrance, which is in stark contrast to the rest of the all-metal star-studded exterior.”