After hosting the Olympic Games in 1932 and 1984, Los Angeles is in the hunt to be the Unites States' candidate to host them again in 2024. Earlier this week the city made a presentation to the U.S. Olympic Committee, followed by pitches from Boston, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. According to Inside The Games, a website dedicated to Olympic news, LA's proposal would be heavy on existing facilities, cutting down on costs so much that Mayor Eric Garcetti called it the "most affordable" of any U.S. proposal. The games would once again focus on the LA Memorial Coliseum (which would be substantially renovated), and surrounding Exposition Park, both just south of USC. Other significant venues would include Staples Center, the Nokia Theater, Griffith Observatory, the Queen Mary, and even Walt Disney Concert Hall. According to Inside The Games, the bid shows off LA's ongoing transit expansion, with officials claiming that 80 per cent of spectators will be connected to venues by public transport. San Francisco proposed a $4.5 billion, privately financed plan that would also focus on existing, or already-planned facilities. According to the SF Chronicle they would include newly-completed Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, several waterfront piers, and the Golden State Warriors' upcoming arena in Mission Bay. A temporary stadium for the opening and closing ceremonies in Brisbane, south of San Francisco, would be removed after the games, and the Olympic Village would be contained in 2,000 units of housing already approved as the fourth phase of development at the Hunters Point shipyard. “We’re not going to be building white elephants in our city or anyplace in our region,” San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee told the Chronicle. The USOC is expected to decide on an entry city by early next year, and the International Olympic Committee is expected to choose the 2024 host city in 2017. The U.S. has not hosted a Summer Olympics since the 1996 Games in Atlanta. The last U.S. city to host the Winter Olympics was Salt Lake City, in 2002.
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Obama library round-up: Woodlawn, Lakeside, Bronzeville and more vying for nation’s 14th presidential library
Speculation over the future site of President Barack Obama’s presidential library has picked up as a slew of Chicago sites—as well as some in New York, Hawaii, and even Kenya—made the June deadline for proposals. Ultimately the decision is up to the President and the board tasked with developing what will be the nation’s 14th presidential library, but dozens of groups are attempting to tug at that group's ears. (Even I used AN's June editorial page to consider the library's urban impact.) Here’s a round-up of some of the Chicago proposals made public so far. 63rd Street New York-based Michael Sorkin Studio released its plan for the library in January, proposing a campus stretched out along three blocks of 63rd Street in Chicago’s Woodlawn neighborhood. They’re “highly conceptual” designs, as are most floated so far, but the plan calls for a campus centered around a ring-shaped building and extending several blocks. The development would make use of dozens of vacant lots in a struggling neighborhood adjacent to the University of Chicago. Bronzeville There’s a concerted effort to bring Obama’s library to Bronzeville, the South Side neighborhood and “black metropolis” vying to become a national heritage area. One prominent site there is the area once home to the Michael Reese Hospital. Combined with parking lots on the other side of South Lake Shore Drive, the site would total 90 acres of lakefront property. It’s been targeted for other large developments, including a casino, a data center and housing for Olympic athletes during Chicago’s failed 2016 bid. A few years ago SOM led a team of designers and developers tasked with sizing up the site for redevelopment, and you can read their plans here. HOK recently floated a plan for redevelopment of the Michael Reese site, including a rendering (at top) of the proposed library. Lakeside McCaffery Interests and U.S. Steel teamed up to rehabilitate that industrial giant’s nearly 600-acre lake infill site in the neighborhood of South Chicago. It’s the largest undeveloped site in the city. The Chicago Sun-Times’ Lynn Sweet first reported last week that McCaffery threw his hat in the ring for Obama's library. Renderings from SOM, Lakeside’s lead design firm, show a heavy walkway that twists elegantly upward around a glass box, jutting over Lake Michigan that appears here as if it were the world’s largest reflecting pool. Chicago State University Down the road from Lakeside, Chicago State University is also a potential site. It's situated in Roseland, where Obama worked as a community organizer. For the Huffington Post, Hermene Hartman argued CSU is the best place for the library, because it would have the greatest neighborhood impact. University of Chicago The U of C called the library "an historic opportunity for our community," and—to no one's surprise—submitted a proposal to bring Obama's legacy back to where he taught law. They set up a website for the bid, but no images or details are publicly available at this time. University of Illinois Chicago U of I is among the institutions of higher education vying for the library, and it has proposed three plans on the West Side: a 23-acre site in North Lawndale; an “academic” option at UIC-Halsted; and a “medical” option at the Illinois Medical District, which is also home to another long-vacant white elephant—the Cook County Hospital building. McCormick Place As reported by Ted Cox for DNAinfo Chicago, Ward Miller, president of Preservation Chicago, thinks the library could revitalize the underused Lakeside Center East Building at McCormick Place, the massive convention center on Chicago’s near South Side. Miller previously proposed that the building be considered for George Lucas' Museum of Narrative Art.
The International Olympic Committee has selected Danish firm 3XN to design their new headquarters in Lausanne, Switzerland. The firm beat out Toyo Ito, Diller, Scofidio + Renfro, and OMA to design a new administrative campus for the committee alongside Lake Geneva. ‘The Olympic Movement has many expressions that are about people coming together in the best possible way,"said Kim Herforth Nielsen, Principal and Creative Director of 3XN, in a statement. "We have designed the new IOC Headquarters as a physical expression of the Olympic Movement and its values expressed through Architecture."
Snøhetta has created the visual identity for the Oslo’s bid to host the 2022 Winter Olympics. The design for the main logo takes repetitive, circular forms and casts them in colors inspired by the Olympic rings. These rounded forms appear throughout the city’s application, which is bright and clean. In a statement, the designers said their work “honors the inherent simplicity and openness in Nordic culture," adding, "the identity represents both the celebration of the Games and the solid planning of the Norwegian bid."
Take a moment from celebrating the first American curling victory of this Olympics to observe Asif Khan's Megaface in action. Previewed in the lead up to the Games, the wall is now installed and has been projecting the faces of visitors to Sochi on the side of the Megafon pavilion for the past week. The realized version is found lacking in the thin drape rendered in preliminary iterations of the structure. Instead hundreds of spherical bulbs are left exposed as they protrude and recede to form the faces of those willing to lend their likeness to the installation. While the initial plan had been to replicate the skin tone of spectators, the effect was abandoned in favor of a monochromatic palette, after its realism was deemed "really scary." Those who visit special photobooths peppered throughout the Olympic campus are given a special code that alerts them to when they will have the chance to come face to face with their 20-foot-tall visage. Russia's Mount Rushmore will close on February 23rd with the ending of the Olympic games.
As the Sochi Olympics commence amongst a slew of issues ranging in severity, the New York Times has imagined what the games might look like in a more local context. Perhaps inspired by the weather of late, these renderings imagine what particular locations throughout New York City might look like playing host to a variety of events. The typically circular speedskating track has been unfurled into a 16,400 foot angled sprint from Madison to Battery Park. The ramps of the ski jump stretch out across Bryant Park to loom over the Public Library. A track for bobsled, luge, and skeleton races snakes through Times Square, curving amongst the billboards before a final straightaway past the Lion King. Downhill requires perhaps the most monumental intervention, with Central Park hosting a 2.2 mile long mountain twice the height of the Empire State Building standing 20 blocks to the south. The replica of the course from the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center is slightly larger than the most recent snow-covered artificial mound to grace Manhattan. Head over to the Times for more.
The design team at MODU, in collaboration with Ho-Yan Cheung of Arup, have created an urban public space for the 5th China International Architecture Biennial. Their design pays homage to Beijing's iconic Olympic Park, while drawing attention to environmental issues in the country’s densely populated capital. The biennial committee has also commissioned designs from leading international architects such as Wang Shu, Zaha Hadid, and Mohsen Mostafavi. The dual-purpose structure not only creates a unique civic space, but also acts as a barometer for the air quality in Beijing. This “room in the city” concept does not attempt to separate people from polluted outdoor air and filtered indoor air by means of physical boundaries. Instead, the structure highlights the air pollution issue through the use of punctured openings in the walls and ceiling panels, as well as a large elliptical roof which frames the Olympic Observation Tower. On clear days, the tower can be seen perfectly through the roof frame, but on days when the pollution creates a dense grey fog, the landmark virtually disappears from sight. The outdoor room is made from recycled materials and, according to its designers, represents a new era of socially responsive design. At the end of November, the structure will be installed in six other cities in China.
London-based Weston Williamson won first prize in an international competition to design the Brasilia Athletics Stadium, an innovative skeletal structure inspired by the wings of a bird in flight. The huge, feather-like formations that create the structure's undulating roof canopy will be constructed from lightweight concrete and steel connections. This feather-like roof will be in a constant state of flux, as the individual sections respond to environmental fluctuations, such as wind and sunlight. "The exterior form of the new athletics stadium reflects the utopian spirit of the Brasilia plan by incorporating a geometry that is ever-changing," the studio said in a statement. "The stadium, therefore, has no fixed identity, but alters in relation to the condition of its surroundings." The circular stadium sits on a wood-clad plinth surrounded by pools of water and dense vegetation which allows for cooling and ventilation of the structure. Should Weston Williamson’s 70,000-seat design vision be realized, the Brasilia Stadium would be home to the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. The architects at Weston Williamson will be awarded a $12,000 prize for conceiving the winning entry.
The designers at New York-based Atopia Innovation, must have been stewing over the past year. Although the gag order imposed on all participating architects and designers by London’s Olympic Organizing Committee (a.k.a. LOCOG) was lifted in January, Atopia only stepped forward in late June to say that the Olympic Cauldron designed by Thomas Heatherwick and used in the 2012 opening ceremonies seems to have been directly inspired by studies Atopia delivered to LOCOG between 2006 and 2008. Check out the sketchbook that seems to prove the point at atopiainnovation.com. (Photo: Courtesy Thomas Heatherwick)
The London 2012 Games may have ended over 10 months ago, but even without the 17,000 athletes that lived on the premises, the Olympic Village is still brimming with commotion. Construction has begun onsite to refurbish the still-nearly-new structures into a residential housing system, Get Living London, in a new neighborhood called East Village. The site's new owners, the sovereign wealth fund Qatari Diar and British property developer Delancey paid $870 million for the Village and development land close by, according to The National. Since the global financial recession in 2007 and exacerbated by a housing shortage, London residents have been struggling to adequately affordable and quality housing. Get Living London presents renting as a suitable option instead of buying a home. The Olympic Delivery Authority is eliminating temporary structures to supply shared dining facilities. As part of the refurbished East Village housing complex, 2,818 new kitchens will be installed and the site will include an education campus, a health center, and restaurants. Local housing association, Triathlon Homes, will offer 1,379 apartments to house low-income Londoners, and the remaining flats will be rented out on the open market.
A 100 percent PET plastic garden grows in LondonIf you were fortunate enough to visit the London Olympics this summer and happened to walk through Victoria Park or the main quad at University College London (UCL) on your way to the games, then you experienced BLOOM, a big, bright, architectural garden created by complete strangers who gathered over the course of the two weeks to piece together 60,000 plastic game pieces, all dyed official Olympic hot pink. Designed by Alisa Andrasek and Jose Sanchez, two architecture professors from UCL's Bartlett School of Architecture, BLOOM was selected by the Greater London Authority for a series of events and installations mounted in two locations during the games with a third location in Trafalgar Square to follow for the upcoming Paralympics. Andrasek and Sanchez had been developing the idea for an open-ended, crowdsourced game that would encourage interaction between people in a large public space when the opportunity to be involved with the Olympics arose. The timing was perfect. Here was a moment in the city's history when locals and tourists alike would be in the same location to celebrate athletics, and Andrasek and Sanchez hoped to capitalize on that spirit of camaraderie. The game starts with the pink game pieces, called cells. Each 16 inch-long cell is made of 100% PET plastic and has three points of entry, or notches used to connect the pieces together. Once Andrasek and Sanchez created a design for the cells, they were injection molded at Atomplast, a Chilean plastics fabricator that Andrasek and Sanchez had worked with previously. The cells are flexible, durable and can be bent and twisted into different configurations without warping or breaking. There were also several structural steel components on hand for using with the cells to build benches, tables, forts and other larger formations. Andrasek and Sanchez began the game by building the first structure themselves, which completely disappeared by the end of the Olympics as people took turns adding onto it and taking pieces away. "Some people really like building whilst others enjoy the act of destroying what someone else did. For us this is mainly the collection and release of energy," the designers wrote in an email. Though BLOOM doesn't have any hard and fast rules, the basic guidelines for building were posted on large banners and two BLOOM team members were on hand to answer questions and teach people how to create larger formations. "As much as we provided help, most of the interesting stuff that people built came out of a group of people taking some time to learn how the system behaves just by playing." Andrasek and Sanchez also had fun playing with BLOOM and testing out different kinds of structures. "We have built maybe five different versions of structures between Victoria Park and UCL, and each time it's different as we keep developing skills of how to do it better,” they wrote. “We reached 3.5 meters in height, but it could go higher as long as we keep on reinforcing the structure. On the other hand, there's a risk with taller structures that can collapse at any time. This did occur several times but the cells are only 200 grams so it’s quite harmless and such an event becomes a motivation to start the game again." The BLOOM team brought out 2,000 new pieces each day to facilitate the game and encourage people to build bigger and higher. "The energy for BLOOM is sourced from people's interactions. None of the pieces can do anything on their own. Only by putting together thousands of them is when the game and the BLOOM garden emerge. The final piece is a collective act of imagination, search and play." The games are on hold for now, but will begin again soon for the Paralympics, which runs from August 28 - October 9, 2012. After that the pieces can either be collected and used to start another game elsewhere or they can be sent back to Atomplast to be recycled into something new.
The London Czech House brims over with gold, silver, bronze - and now crystalSo far the Czech Republic's Olympic athletes have won a smattering of medals at the Summer games, but this year all the country's athletes, medal winners or not, will be rewarded for their efforts with a crystal trophy courtesy of Lasvit, the official crystal partner of the Czech Olympic team and the country's leading manufacturer of custom light and glass installations. The crystal trophies will also be doled out to VIPs visiting the Czech House, which is playing host to a series of events meant to promote Czech culture during the games. Inside, Lasvit is presenting the finer side of Czech culture with their Hydrogene Crystal Bar, an illuminated bar in the VIP section, as well as Infinity, a sculptural glass lighting installation suspended in the public mezzanine. Like most of Lasvit's high-end custom jobs, Infinity was designed by Jitka Kamencova Skuhrava, whose long list of projects for the company include several hotels and event spaces in Abu Dhabi, dozens more in China as well as two teal-colored cascades for Tiffany & Co. Her preference for natural forms shows up again and again, in the swirling glass shapes that weave through the air like frenzied schools of fish or the leaf-like forms that twist into a loose interpretation of the figure eight symbol. For Infinity, Skuhrava started with 3D renderings of the interior of the Czech House in London to determine what form, size, and lighting schematic would work best for the space. Once she finalized her design and made samples to test it out, the labor-intensive job of hand blowing the individual pieces of glass began. Though Skuhrava comes from a family with a long tradition of making stained glass and is skilled in glass blowing, etching, engraving and all aspects of glass craft, the installations she designs are much too large to make on her own. Still, she oversees all aspects of the fabrication and regularly works with a local Czech glassworks, instructing their craftspeople as to how she wants the pieces made for each project. For Infinity, Skuhrava used 1,600 9-inch leaves of hand blown glass, each etched with fine, linear grooves. The leaves are woven together with a "special wire system" Skuhrava is hesitant to expand on, saying only that it's "delicate, almost invisible, but safe." Once the leaves are strung together they're attached to a perspex structure in 15 pieces along with the LED system. Infiinity was tested out and preinstalled in the Czech Republic before being shipped to London, where Skuhrava and with five others installed it over two days, from July 21-22, just before the Olympics began. In total, Infinity stretches 21 feet by six and a half feet with a height of five and half feet and weighs in at 2,200 pounds. Though Infinity is quite striking on its own, the Czech House is packed with so much evidence of its culture that the installation is dwarfed by a cluster of large projection screens and is left floating off to the side, looking beautiful, but lost.