Exterior view of the Fisht Olympic Stadium at the Olympic Park in Sochi, Russia, where the 2014 Olympic Games will take place. Photo by: Jens Büttner/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images
Exterior view of the Fisht Olympic Stadium at the Olympic Park in Sochi, Russia, where the 2014 Olympic Games will take place. Photo by: Jens Büttner/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images

Many of the world’s glass companies are likely among the many international firms watching with more than a casual interest as the frantic race to complete construction of the stadium that will open next month’s 2014 Sochi Winter Olympic Games.

Fisht Stadium is supposed to be the grand stage where Sochi welcomes the world to the 2014 Winter Olympics, strengthening the country’s stature within the world community while also permanently transforming the sleepy Russian seaport town.

But serious questions remain about the stadium’s status as the Games inch closer to next month’s opening.

Originally slated to have been completed in August 2013, the 40,000-seat venue remains a work in progress thanks to numerous work slowdowns and last-minute design changes, prompting serious doubts as to whether it will be ready in time for the February 7 Opening Ceremonies.

“If the stadium’s opening is delayed, the ceremony’s script will have to be changed,” said auditor Alexander Piskunov, as reported by the Moscow Times.

Guardian Industries is one company with glass in Sochi. The Auburn Hills, Mich.-based company says its plants in Russia have contributed to preparations of the Games, but stringent International Olympic Committee (IOC) rules prohibited Chris Dolan, Guardian’s director of commercial glass marketing, from further specifics at this time.

“Guardian SunGuard high-performance glass has been specified on some of the
largest projects in Sochi,” Dolan says. “We are excited that our Russian facilities were
able to support these projects.”

Designed by the international architectural firm Populous, Fisht Stadium is the only major Olympic venue still under construction. It was originally meant to resemble a giant snowflake, a symbol of cold weather to balance out the city’s palm trees and beaches for the Winter Games. However, because a roof had to be added, the design soon morphed into two parallel mounds of snow, opening down the middle to present views of the jagged peaks of the Caucasus Mountains to the north and the choppy waters of the Black Sea to the south. According to the Olympics website, the stadium marks the first time in the construction of a large-scale structure, that a translucent polycarbonate roof will be used. This, the site says, will give the building an appearance of snowy peaks.

Russian officials eager to see Sochi become a year-round destination point rather than a seasonal one for the wealthy have done their best to downplay any potential problems, citing the major upgrades to local infrastructure such as roads, rail links, electric grids and sewage and water systems at a cost of more than $50 billion.

The newly-opened glass-fronted train station is the largest in Russia, connecting the Olympic village in nearby Adler with the Alpica-Service resort, which will host a number of events. The 15,000-square meter rail hub is expected to handle 8,500 passengers an hour at the peak of the Olympic competition.

Russian officials often point out how the Olympic project has significantly boosted employment in construction and other building services.

The Sochi Winter Olympic Games will run February 7-23, featuring more 6,000 athletes from 85 countries.

Has your company contributed to projects in Sochi? E-mail erogers@glass.com to share pictures.