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An Olympic Review: Record-Setting Architecture

The Rio games may be over, but we’re happy to help wean sports fans off their recent diet of swimming, gymnastics, and track and field [to say nothing of badminton and water polo], with a survey of some memorable Olympic architecture.

 

Rio Golf

Golf Venue

Rio de Janeiro 2016

Rua Arquitetos

Golf is a sport of precision and balance, and the design of this complex reflects those qualities. Locker rooms, lobbies, pro shop, and administration areas are located in small, low buildings around a courtyard, with views opening to the course beyond. The translucent fabric roof over the plaza funnels rainwater into a collection tank; the water is used for grounds maintenance.

 

Zaha London

Aquatics Centre

London 2012

Zaha Hadid

The concept for this building was inspired by the fluid geometry of water in motion, creating spaces and a surrounding environment in sympathy with the riverside landscape of the Olympic Park. An undulating roof sweeps up from the ground as a wave, enclosing the pools of the Centre with its unifying gesture. After the Olympics, the facility was downsized: the wings were lopped off, and seating capacity reduced from 17,500 to about 2,500.

 

montreal-olympic-stadium

Olympic Stadium

Montreal 1976

Roger Taillibert

The architect was fired from the job in mid-construction; that’s just the first salvo in a fusillade of failures for this stadium. More than a decade after the games were over, the retractable roof was finally completed in 1987; functionally deficient, it was removed in 1998 and replaced by a fixed roof. The 575-foot tower element of the stadium contains a funicular, which runs up to an observatory. The 56,000-seat stadium was used for several years for professional baseball and football games; today, the deteriorating structure is infrequently used as an events venue.

 

Olympic_Shooting_magma architectureHuftonCrow

Shooting Venue

London 2012

Magma Architecture

Through its dynamic, curving walls, the design of this venue evokes the flow and precision inherent in competitive shooting. Three buildings sport crisp, white double-curved façades studded with brightly colored circular openings, which act as ventilation intake portals. They also function as tensioning rings, keeping the PVC-fabric façades from flapping in the wind. After the Olympics, the buildings were dismantled—as intended—flat-packed, and shipped to other sites for use.

See-Worthy Design

The last full month of summer, August presents a final opportunity to enjoy recreational pursuits—as a spectator or participant—before the autumnal commitments of school and work return. In weeks to come, we’ll take a look at the architecture of the Olympics, as well as the graphic branding of the Games over the years. Today, we’re indulging in a survey of a rarefied design sector: yachts designed by architects and artists.

 

foggy-gehry-hausman

Frers 74, Foggy built by Brooklin Boat Yard, Brooklin ME

Frers 74, Foggy built by Brooklin Boat Yard, Brooklin ME

Frers 74, Foggy built by Brooklin Boat Yard, Brooklin ME

Frank Gehry sets sail in Foggy, which he designed in collaboration with German Frers. Titanium details and wavy, lattice-like ports give the 74-foot daysailer a most unusual presence. Foggy was built at the venerable Brooklin Boat Yard in Brooklin, Maine.

 

Screen Shot 2016-08-09 at 12.06.41 PM

guilty2

boat

Dazzle camouflage certainly influenced Jeff Koons’ design for this 115-foot craft (christened Guilty) and we detect a bit of Roy Lichtenstein in the comic-book colors and Ben-Day dots, too.

 

z_boat_crop_01

Z-Boat-Zaha-Hadid_hausman

Koons’ Guilty accomplishes optically what Zaha Hadid’a Z-Boat does in three dimensions. Its squared-off bow defies conventional thinking about what constitutes a streamlined vessel; nonetheless, it conveys an impression of speed and power. The 24-foot powerboat was produced in a limited edition of 12 by Shoreteam.

 

pawson-almost nothing

pawson-b60 Sloop

b60

pawson keel

Not a slack halyard or an untidy coil in sight—John Pawson’s B60 is shipshape, indeed. Pawson teamed with naval architect Luca Brenta to create a sloop in his signature minimalist style. The hull, a graceful arc of polished carbon fiber, seems to float above as much as in the water.

For a more accessible seafaring experience, we recommend any of the excellent Around Manhattan tours, produced by the NY AIA in partnership with Classic Harbor Line. Expertly led by professors and practitioners of architecture, the tours offer a waterfront perspective on landmarks new and old from the vantage of teak- and mahogany-detailed, 1920s-style yachts.

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