In less than a month the world will come together, as we all gather around our TVs to cheer for our countries’ Olympians. Yes, nothing can unite us like sports. I love the Olympics, especially the summer games–gymnastics, swimming, track and field … who will be the best and bring home the gold? If you’re like me, you’ve been watching the trials the past couple of weeks, and I’ve definitely got my list of ones to watch. But as much as I’d like to talk about my favorite events, I’m going to go in a slightly different direction, and instead talk about some of my favorites when it comes to Olympic architecture.

Let’s Start in London

In 2012 aquatic athletes competed in the London Aquatics Centre (LAC), which was designed by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA). Construction began in 2008 and with more than 3,630 people working on it, the project was completed on time in July 2011 and within budget. According to ZHA, the architectural concept of the LAC “was inspired by the fluid geometry of water in motion, creating spaces and a surrounding environment in sympathy with the river landscape of the Olympic Park.” It features an undulating roof that sweeps up from the ground like a wave, enclosing the pools. The Austrian offices of Seele fabricated and supplied both the steel-and-glass and the aluminum-and-glass façades for the interior and exterior areas of this project. The LAC features insulating units in the outer façades, which are glazed to a steel frame, and covered with aluminum pressure plates.

Bird’s Eye View

Beijing National Stadium, photo by Hong Jiang on Unsplash

In 2008 the summer games headed to Beijing where the Beijing National Stadium, nicknamed the Bird’s Nest was used for a number of different events. The 91,000-capacity stadium was designed by architecture team Herzog & de Meuron, and will be used again for the 2022 Winter Olympics and Paralympics. Golden Glass of China was the glass supplier for the project.

Also built for the 2008 games was the National Indoor Stadium, which features a 19,000-square-meter glass curtainwall. Laminated, low-E glass supplied by Shanghai Yaohua Pilkington Glass Co. Ltd. forms, in parts, the point-support curtainwall. Shenzhen Sanxin Special Glass Technology Co. Ltd. installed the glass.

Glass Gets the Gold

Many in the glass industry will remember the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City and the Olympic cauldron, which held the flame during the games. This was constructed of the FireLite product from Technical Glass Products with interlayers provided by Solutia Inc. (now Eastman)  and fabricated by (then) Oldcastle Glass, now Oldcastle BuildingEnvelope®.

As we get closer to the 2021 games, keep an eye out on USGNN™, as we’ll be looking at some of the architecture we’ll see this year in Tokyo. Does your company have experience working on any Olympic projects? I’d love to hear about them. Email me at