Activist for Pavilion’s preservation dies from asthma attack: Co-founder

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People for the Pavilion, a new organization leading the push to preserve the site of the 1964 World’s Fair, lost a founding member this weekend.

Christian Doran, 28, died suddenly from an asthma attack Saturday night, cofounder Matthew Silva said.

“I’m completely shell shocked. It came out of nowhere,” Silva said. “To so suddenly, and at such an early point of this process, to lose one of our own is extremely heart breaking.”

People for the Pavilion emerged out of a network Silva created while making a documentary that chronicles the history of the New York State Pavilion, which has stood vacant for decades. Silva met Doran along the way and the two along with Salmaan Khan decided to join forces in an attempt to preserve the building.

The group quickly gained widespread community support since its first meeting Jan. 25.

Maspeth resident Doran worked as a sound engineer at Queens Theater in the Park on weekends and dedicated any free time he had to the preservation project.

“He put a lot into it in a short period of time. We certainly wouldn’t be where we are now, if it wasn’t for his work. That’s for sure,” Silva said.

Doran had envisioned the structure would one day be open to the public and be used as an arts center, Silva said.

The news of Doran’s death was crushing for the group’s remaining members, but Silva said it would not deter them from moving ahead with the effort.

“That’s not even a question. It’s going to be hard moving forward, but we’re going to,” Silva said. “I think we’re going to have a lot of success. He would have loved it. It’s very painful to know he won’t be there to experience and see come to life what he had envisioned early on. He saw something very special in the building,” Silva said.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz, who declared her support for preserving the historic structure last week, released a statement offering Doran’s friends and family her condolences.

“I was shocked and saddened to learn of the sudden and unexpected death of Christian Doran,” she said. “I spoke with Mr. Doran just last Thursday during a walking tour I had organized of the Pavilion and was very impressed with his dedication to making sure that this iconic structure is preserved for future generations to enjoy. I know those efforts will continue and I will work diligently to fulfill Mr. Doran’s wish that the Pavilion never be torn down.”

Reach reporter Alex Robinson by e-mail at or by phone at 718-260-4566.

Updated 6:04 pm, February 10, 2014
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