Posts tagged with "Olympics":

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Mexico City’s public sculpture corridor is a broken dream worth saving

Soon after Mexico City was designated to host the 1968 Olympics, the idea of a year-long cultural program emerged—one which would come to shape the ethos of the games for years to come. Hinting at the Greek Olympics’ legacy, the Mexican Cultural Olympiad would deploy 20 cultural events and projects throughout the year while promoting a modern discourse of peace at a time when the cold war profoundly divided the world. As part of the program, the Polish-born, Mexican artist and architect Mathias Goeritz (who coined the concept of “Emotional Architecture” with Luis Barragán) proposed an ambitious public sculptures route integrated with the city as a way to respond to its rapid urbanization. La Ruta de la Amistad (or the Route of Friendship), as it was named, would offer new ways of navigating the capital while making art available to the masses and celebrating international dialogue. The proposal was received with great enthusiasm from the chair of the Mexican Olympic Organizing Committee, the influential architect Pedro Ramírez Vázquez. In the lead-up to the Olympics, a total of 22 sculptures were commissioned from 19 artists and architects, including the Uruguayan artist Gonzalo Fonseca, the French artist Olivier Seguin, the American sculptor Alexander Calder, and the Mexican sculptor Ángela Gurría. Goeritz’s curatorial brief was simple: All sculptures should be abstract, of monumental scale, and use concrete as their main material. The project would become the largest sculptural thoroughfare in the world, connecting Olympics venues across a distance of 11 miles—and a great source of pride for Mexico. However, a week and a half before the official start of the games, the route, like the rest of the Cultural Olympiad, was obscured by the Massacre of Tlatelolco, in which the Mexican military and the police killed at least 300 students and civilians protesting government repression and corruption. Politicians, used to controlling every aspect of Mexican society, showed little patience for the demonstrations, which they feared would damage their cherished reputation as Olympics hosts. For the government, the games had become a platform to project its progressive, modern ideals and to challenge the perception that it was a developing country. Fifty years on, the sculptures stand neglected, in a state of near decay, like the remnants of a broken dream. “In Mexico, the route isn’t seen as something important. Not for the people, nor the government,” lamented Luis Javier de la Torre, president of Patronato Ruta de la Amistad, as he toured us around its principal site, now overshadowed by the infamous Periferico, a dystopic, elevated highway crossing the city. The organization he cofounded in 1994 with Javier Ramírez Campuzano (the son of Ramírez Vázquez) is in charge of conserving the sculptures and promoting their legacy. Prior to this, the route was largely abandoned and subjected to vandalism. The Patronato was able to restore and relocate a number of pieces at risk of deterioration, creating a centralized location composed of 13 works between 2011 and 2013. To mark the Route’s 50th anniversary, the Patronato is launching a number of activities with partner organizations on a shoestring budget. The Museo del Palacio de Bellas Artes is opening an exhibition about it this October, scheduled to coincide with Design Week Mexico (October 10 to 15). Meanwhile, the official program of World Design Capital Mexico City 2018 has incorporated educational projects to bring awareness to the route. “Its values live on,” argued de la Torre. So why does the route fail to receive the public interest and support it deserves? According to de la Torre, a combination of a conflicted sense of national identity, a lack of understanding, and the collective trauma of 1968 are responsible. “We don’t have a proper identity as a country,” he explained, nodding to Mexican poet Octavio Paz’s The Labyrinth of Solitude, a series of essays that discusses the existential tension between colonial and indigenous cultures in the country. “No one believed that as a society we were capable of running the Olympics in ways that would be replicated by others around the world,” he continued. Most important, the political turmoil associated with 1968 overbearingly shaped the country’s consciousness of that moment. “This is where the dream broke,” said Mexican architect Frida Escobedo, this year’s Serpentine Pavilion designer, when we visited her studio. At the recent Biennale d’Architecture d’Orléans, Escobedo revisited the Ruta de la Amistad by presenting a reproduction of the metal frame behind the sculpture by Olivier Seguin. The precarious-looking, welded steel structure—now permanently installed at Le Parc Floral de La Source in Orléans, France—was inspired by an installation shot of the original work, which the architect discovered while visiting the archives of the FRAC Centre in France. “The picture presented the reality of 1968,” Escobedo recounted, reflecting on the ambiguous promise of modernism in the construction of Mexico’s national identity. “It’s all a spectacle.” “We haven’t been able to separate things,” explained de la Torre of the troubled legacy of 1968. “I think that now, there is an opportunity for both narratives to coexist.” But should the Olympics’ cultural legacy really be separated from its political context? Before the army opened fire at the crowd on October 2, 1968, anti-government protesters were chanting, “¡No queremos olimpiadas, queremos revolución!” (“We don't want the Olympics, we want a revolution!”)
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Atlanta’s Centennial Olympic Park gets a bland new redesign

The Georgia World Congress Center Authority (GWCCA) has just released new renderings for the renovation of Atlanta's Centennial Olympic Park. Built for the 1996 Summer Olympics and located in the core of Atlanta's downtown, the 21-acre park is one of the city's most frequented green spaces, crowned at its north end by a trio of tourist magnets: the Georgia Aquarium, World of Coca Cola, and the Children's Museum of Atlanta. Construction has already been underway for most of the year. The improvements focus on six specific areas of the park with staggered timelines for each. Phase One, which includes renovations of the West Lawn Promenade and the Fountain of Rings Plaza, is slated for completion in January 2018, while Phase Two, which includes a new events center, renovated amphitheater, streetside water feature, and Paralympic Plaza, is expected to wrap up in early 2019. The new renderings are also an improvement on those released in March 2017, which mostly depicted flatly nondescript grassy spaces with little appeal. Phase One largely targets footpaths and plazas. During this phase, a road that used to cut through the park, Andrew Young International Boulevard, will be completely pedestrianized. Many of the designs for the park leave much to be desired, with their monotoned pathways, expanses of shadeless lawn, and lack of seating or plant variance. Thankfully, some shade structures will be built near the Southern Company Amphitheater–in southern climes like Atlanta with year-round heat, temperature matters. According to the GWCCA, the park's legacy is twofold: to preserve and honor the Olympic Games of 1996, but also to ground development efforts downtown in an accessible public space. The organization was created in 1971 to create a convention center for downtown Atlanta, and now manages a number of properties around the park including the Georgia World Congress Center, the Georgia Dome, and the New Atlanta Stadium, as well as a conference center to the south in Savannah. Many cities left with vast, expensive spaces after hosting the Olympics face the question of how to repurpose and maintain them once the games are over–here, the GWCCA appears to have stuck to the model of keeping a banal park space to fuel corporate development at its fringes.
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3XN releases new renderings of the International Olympic Committee headquarters in Lausanne

The International Olympic Committee is getting a new home, and the accommodations don't look too shabby. Danish firm 3XN has just released new renderings for the Committee's new headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. Olympic House, as it has been dubbed, features a curving facade of glass and steel and is nested into a green surrounding landscape adjacent to the Committee's former home, an 18th-century castle dubbed the Château de Vidy. Vidy, a neighborhood within Lausanne, sits near the shores of Lake Geneva and within direct view of the cascading, snow-capped Swiss Alps. 95 percent of the materials from the administrative buildings formerly occupying the new building's site will be recycled into the new structure, as part of the firm's efforts to incorporate sustainable construction techniques. The building's interior is based on open space and concentric circles—a double-flight staircase on the main floor leads up to an ascending sequence of circular balconies arranged at staggered angles, crowned by a skylight above. The exterior, an undulating pattern of paneled glass, is inspired by Eadweard Muybridge-like photographs of athletes in motion and is intended to appear different from every slight shift in angle. According to 3XN senior partner Jan Ammundsen, the design is based on principles of flexibility, movement, and sustainability, with shared spaces in the building able to be programmed for adaptive usage as it ages. Just this past April, 3XN was selected from a group of architects vying for the commission, which included Toyo Ito, Amanda Levete, and OMA.  
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Los Angeles will host the 2028 Olympics

Los Angeles is set to host the Olympics in 2028, its third time doing so following the 1932 and 1984 games, as first reported by the New York Times.

L.A gave up the bid for the 2024 games, which will be hosted in Paris, after a deal was struck with the International Olympics Committee (IOC). The Committee had not reached a consensus as to which city would take the earlier games until today. The unusual arrangement saw the simultaneous announcement of the hosts for both the 2024 and 2028 games.

The city, when making its bid for 2024, proposed using its existing facilities from the previous Olympics. While extensive retrofitting and building temporary facilities will take place, no new permanent structures will have to go up. In this way, L.A. would be the “most affordable” of any U.S. proposal, as Mayor Eric Garcetti claimed. The L.A Memorial Coliseum and surrounding Exposition Park will be the main stages for the games; other significant venues include the Staples Center, Nokia Theater, Griffith Observatory, Dodger Stadium, and Rose Bowl. 

The city’s proposal also relies heavily on expanding transit infrastructure, including the light rail, streetcar systems, and LAX's Tom Bradley International Terminal. Officials have made the promise that 80 percent of spectators and visitors will be connected to venues by public transportation.

The U.S. has not hosted a Summer Olympics since 1996 when it was held in Atlanta. The success of both games, and especially in 1984 when the city turned a $250 million profit, as well as the advertised lower cost due to existing infrastructure, has made both the public and city officials amenable to hosting. Boston was originally chosen to be the American bid over Los Angeles and San Francisco but withdrew last minute in 2015 due to cost overruns. 

L.A. had originally made its proposal and plans for 2024, and not 2028. According to the Times, while the city is still willing to accommodate for four years later than planned, officials have acknowledged that the cost and logistical estimates in the bid will likely be higher in 2028.

The official announcement will take place on September 13 in Lima, Peru.

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Kengo Kuma claims commission for Tokyo Olympic Stadium as Hadid fumes

At last, design for the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Stadium has finally been decided with Kengo Kuma's winning commission. The Japanese firm fought off a plan by Toyo Ito to claim the prize. Zaha Hadid, however, was less than complimentary of the decision. The 80,000 capacity stadium will cost $1.2 billion, almost half the cost of Hadid's proposal and will crucially be constructed by Taisei Corp, a major firm in Japan. That's not to say that decision isn't still mired in controversy. Nicknamed the "hamburger," several architects, according to the Financial Times, claim it bears “remarkable similarities” to a an earlier design that was scrapped in July. Utilizing a wood and steel roof, Kuma's design creates a green space within the city of Tokyo with the facade’s horizontal lines seemingly referencing the 1,300-year-old Gojunoto wooden pagoda at Horyuji Temple. Meanwhile the environment is completed via the implementation of Jingu Shrine trees and other foliage found within the vicinity of the stadium. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe spoke of the design, saying "I think this is a wonderful plan that meets criteria such as basic principles, construction period and cost," when he announced the winning practice. Hadid, though, has other ideas. “Sadly the Japanese authorities, with the support of some of those from our own profession in Japan, have colluded to close the doors on the project to the world,” Zaha Hadid Architect's said in statement. "This shocking treatment of an international design and engineering team ... was not about design or budget." "In fact much of our two years of detailed design work and the cost savings we recommended have been validated by the remarkable similarities of our original detailed stadium layout and our seating bowl configuration with those of the design announced today," she continued. Completion is set to be around November 2019, though there are doubts that it will be ready in time for the Rugby World Cup that Japan is hosting that year. This was initially a requirement that was demanded by the Japan Sports Council and one that Hadid says her firm would have been able to meet. “Work would already be under way building the stadium if the original design team had simply been able to develop this original design, avoiding the increased costs of an 18-month delay and risk that it may not be ready in time for the 2020 Games.” Meanwhile, president of Tokyo 2020, Yoshiro Mori, has said, “The stadium incorporates the views of experts in the construction field and we are looking forward very much to using the new stadium as the centrepiece of the Tokyo 2020 Games.”
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After Zaha Hadid bows out, two new proposals unveiled for the Tokyo Olympic Stadium

After controversy and budget overruns surrounding Zaha Hadid's curvy design for Tokyo's Olympic Stadium, the starchitect bowed out of the running. But Tokyo still needs a stadium, and two just-released proposals show a decidedly more traditional design. The Japan Sports Council announced that the winner will be selected before the year is up, however, upon publishing details of the proposals, they have chosen to keep the submissions anonymous. That said, Nikkan Sports speculates that architects Toyo Ito and Kengo Kuma are the two practices vying for the lucrative commission. Supposing this claim is true, one can quickly deduce that proposal "A" belongs to Kengo Uma and that proposal "B" is Toyo' based on both firms' previous projects and inherent style. An in-depth insight into both the plans can be found on the council's website (it's all in Japanese) and it's clear that both submissions clearly outline costs and construction details—a hard lesson learned after Hadid's proposal, which was vetoed by the council, after it spiralled up to $2 billion. Now, both submissions cost around half of Hadid's proposal, ringing in at $1.2 billion. Utilizing a wood and steel roof, Proposal A creates a green space within the city of Tokyo with the facade's horizontal lines seemingly referencing the 1,300-year-old Gojunoto wooden pagoda at Horyuji Temple. Meanwhile the environment is completed via the implementation of Jingu Shrine trees and other foliage found within the vicinity of the stadium. Meanwhile, Proposal B incorporates a much more modern aesthetic, especially in its roof design. The roof design, however, as artful as it may be, is primarily functional. The curvature encapsulates sound generated from spectators, creating a more fervent atmosphere while keeping the neighbors happy. Supporting the roof will be 72 pillars that wrap around the stadium. What defines Proposal B is its unique and feathery undulating roof, but also the solid wood pillars that will be equally spaced around the stadium. The 72 weight-bearing pillars will serve a symbolic purpose in that they reference Japan’s tradition of building pillars to honor festivities. The number of pillars is also special, representing the 72 micro-seasons of Japan, a feature of Japan's culture that is exhibited further with a 2788.71 foot track that informs visitors of each micro-season with each pillar.
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Hadid concedes her $2 billion Japan National Stadium bid is dead

Despite months of refusing to admit the case, Zaha Hadid has finally conceded that her bid for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Stadium is dead in the water. After Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the country was scrapping Hadid's plans in June earlier this year, the British-Iraqi architect has only now come out and said that the plans are indeed finished and that the project will go no further. Since day one the project was steeped in controversy amid the backlash from critics denouncing the stadium for displacing residents of public housing while also burning a deep hole in Japanese pocketbooks. Hadid's proposal would have cost a hefty $2 billion. Another reason the project failed was due to the fact that Hadid's company was also unsuccessful in finding a construction company. The Tokyo 2020 authority has made sure this issue will not rise again as conditions now stipulate that a construction firm must be in place for projects submitted in the new competition for the design. In a statement, a spokesman on behalf of Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) said: “It is disappointing that the two years of work and investment in the existing design for a new national stadium for Japan cannot be further developed to meet the new brief through the new design competition.” In 2012, Hadid's design topped 45 other submissions to claim the prize. She most recently released a 20 minute video pitch arguing its financial viability. https://youtu.be/KWQGwz3vdb4 [h/t The Guardian.]
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Video> Zaha Hadid battles for her Tokyo Olympics Stadium project

In an attempt to salvage the now-scrubbed project, Zaha Hadid has released a new video in defense of  her firm's design for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Stadium. The film presents a robust—albeit familiar—argument for the reinstatement of the building. Once the bona fides of the project team (which includes Arup Sports) are revisited and a sensitivity to Japanese culture is declared, the oblique blame game begins. https://vimeo.com/137299144 Citing the substantial investment that's already been made in developing the project, Team Hadid suggests that the construction bidding process be restarted, in an attempt to reduce the estimated $2-billion-plus cost to erect the stadium. From the video: "To start the design from scratch is an unnecessary risk, which we think the government should reconsider if its aim is to achieve a lower price...we believe the answer is to introduce more competition between the contractors, but not to lose the benefits of the design." So far, there has not been a response to the video from Olympics officials.
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BREAKING> Days after announcing its approval, Japanese government decides to drop Zaha Hadid’s Tokyo Stadium

Just days after giving the go-ahead on Zaha Hadid’s hotly contested designs for the Tokyo Stadium, the Japanese government has retracted its stance. With spiraling costs at the heart of contentions, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said the project would now “start over from zero.” Abe has instructed the sports and Olympics ministers to select a new stadium design immediately, but the Prime Minister insisted that no further decision would be greenlighted without “listening to the voices of the people and the athletes.” At the time the government announced its approval, the budget had bloated to $2 billion, with the overly large, "bike helmet" design being publicly slammed by eminent architects including Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki. Public backlash and political battles ensued over who would foot the bill. However, Zaha Hadid Architects maintains it was “not the case that the recently reported cost increases are due to the design, which uses standard materials and techniques well within the capability of Japanese contractors and meets the budget set by the Japan Sports Council.” Instead, the “real challenge” was “agreeing on an acceptable construction cost against the backdrop of steep annual increases in construction costs in Tokyo and a fixed deadline.” Abe made the decision to drop Hadid’s designs after a meeting with the chair of the Tokyo 2020 organizing committee, Yoshiro Mori. Slated as the centerpiece of the 2020 Olympics, the already much-delayed stadium won’t be completed in time for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, as was originally planned. Sports minister Hakubun Shimomura said that a new design will be selected within the next six months.
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Tokyo government approves Zaha Hadid’s designs for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Stadium while controversy continues

Despite courting backlash for being imposingly large and costly, Zaha Hadid’s designs for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics Stadium have been green-lighted by the Tokyo government. Officials maintain that further modifications at this stage of proceedings would only incur further expenses from construction delays. In July last year, Hadid acquiesced to criticism against her original stadium, announcing new designs with economizing modifications promising to be more “efficient, user-focused, adaptable and sustainable.” A spokesman for Zaha Hadid Architects told Dezeen that the structure would sport “a lightweight, tensile fabric” to “reduce the weight and materials of the roof to give it greater flexibility as an indoor and outdoor venue.” However, Hadid’s firm declined to disclose whether the size of the venue would also be scaled back. The two massive arches forming the backbone of the roof, which critics have billed an unneeded frill, will prevail. To slash construction costs from the initial $3 billion, officials have proposed delaying building a retracting roof until after the Olympics and making 15,000 of the stadium’s 80,000 seats temporary. “We want to see more existing venues, we want to see the use of more contemporary grandstands,” said John Coates, Vice President of the International OIympics Committee. “It may be that there are new venues and existing venues at the moment that are dedicated for just one sport, where with good programming you could do two.” Nevertheless, the price tag continues to hover at $2 billion due in part to the fact that use of Hadid’s designs requires the demolition of the existing 1964 stadium designed by architect Mitsuo Katayama. Pritzker laureates such as Toyo Ito and Fumihiko Maki have been among Hadid’s most vocal critics, themselves one of eleven finalists in the 2008 competition. In an interview with Dezeen at the groundbreaking for her 1000 Museum Tower in Miami last year, the Iraqi-British architect posited: “They don’t want a foreigner to build in Tokyo for a national stadium.” However, soaring construction costs have been reported across the board, with the committee reviewing designs for ten Olympic products after bids for one facility came in at 15 times the estimated cost. Although Hadid’s stadium has received the go-ahead, city and central government continue to hotly debate how to split the $2 billion bill.
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Boston wants to build the most walkable Olympics ever if its selected to host the 2024 games

As you’ve probably heard by now, Boston blew past the likes of Los Angeles and San Francisco to be selected as the United States' bid city for the 2024 Summer Olympics. With the announcement official, Boston 2024, the private nonprofit spearheading the bid, has publicly released the presentation it gave to the Olympic Committee back in December. Boston public radio station WBUR reported that David Manfredi, of the Boston-based Elkus Manfredi, is co-chairing the bid’s planning committee and walked through the team's presentation last week. Manfredi reportedly said that Boston 2024’s planning goal is to make the games the most walkable Olympics of all time. To that end, 28 out of 33 venues are within about a six mile radius. There is also the “Olympic Boulevard” which serves as the “pedestrian spine” between many of the facilities. The overall plan has two main clusters of facilities, one near the water and the other around some of Boston’s most famous universities including Boston University, MIT, and Harvard. Take a look at the conceptual renderings below to get a sense of what could be coming to Boston in 2024. That is, if Boston can fend off its international competitors.
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Eavesdrop> California’s Olympic Letdown: Los Angeles & San Francisco lose out to Boston

  Alas, despite being hailed as the favorite to represent the United States in the race for the 2024 Olympics, Los Angeles has lost out to its much older competitor, Boston. LA had pitched what Mayor Eric Garcetti hailed as the “most affordable” proposal, using mostly existing facilities, including the LA Memorial Coliseum, the Staples Center, and even Frank Gehry's Disney Hall, Griffith Observatory, and the Queen Mary. Maybe the USOC isn’t as into a bargain as we thought? Or maybe after giving LA two games they’re just not that into us anymore. San Francisco, by the way, lost out on its bid, which also banked on affordability. Damn, the Olympic Village could have been the only cheap place to live there outside of Oakland!