rioStarting tonight Rio takes center-stage before the world as the Olympics begin there. You might expect to see impressive—even glassy—buildings designed to reflect Brazil’s striking scenery, but that’s not quite the case.

Think back to the 2008 Beijing Olympics, spectators and athletes were welcomed into the city’s National Indoor Stadium, designed to resemble an unfurled traditional Chinese folding fan and built specifically for the games. It featured a 19,000-square-meter glass curtainwall with laminated, low-E glass that was supplied by Shanghai Yaohua Pilkington Glass Co. Ltd. The structure also used 1,124 solar panels that were able to produce 100 kilowatts of energy per day.

It’s also hard to forget the Salt Lake City 2002 Olympic Cauldron in Utah. Built out of 2,000 square feet of FireLite, a high-tech transparent ceramic by Technical Glass Products (TGP), the structure could withstand temperatures reaching more than 1,600 degrees Fahrenheit. The Cauldron was made to look like a spiraling helix, requiring two triangular-shaped pieces of FireLite that were laminated together with a blue interlayer. The chalice that held the flame was actually a bowl within a bowl—an inner bowl of FireLite surrounded by a larger bowl of the laminated product.

Rio got the bid to host the games in 2009 at a time of economic prosperity, becoming the first Latin American city to host the Olympiad. But much has changed since then, leaving construction for the games up in the air. According to an article in the New York Times, many of those that could be legendary projects have collapsed—an elevated bike trail buckled, killing two people; and a boat ramp designed for the sailing competition collapsed a few days ago due to speculated strong winds.

With unforgettable architectural predecessors, how will Rio stand in comparison? It’s hard to tell at this point. According to an August 4 report from, the city has experienced more construction delays than host cities typically experience. Likewise, a July 7 CNN report—one month before the opening ceremonies—noted “(There are) the roads that were meant to have been built by now, and we’re not sure if they’re going to be open in time …”

While the 2016 Olympics may not have brought new and innovative architecture to Rio, the city still has some impressive structures. Take a look at the slide show for some of what the city has to offer.