7 of the Best Reused Urban Olympic Venues and Spaces
BY LISA DEBENEDICTIS
With the Winter Olympics well into their second week in Pyeongchang, discussions around the games often lead to how to reuse city stadiums and other venues in sustainable ways once they end. Unfortunately, there have been many instances of “white elephants,” or buildings that were costly to make but are no longer being used. Pyeongchang has opted for a pop-up stadium to help solve for this problem, and here are seven other cities that successfully transformed or repurposed Olympic venues and public spaces, too.
1. London, England
London Stadium is now home to West Ham United Football Club.
When London hosted the Summer Olympics in 2012, the city opted to build many of its Olympic venues in the struggling East End to support urban regeneration. The Athlete’s Village was transformed into housing, and they invested in improved public transportation to the area as well. In addition, the Olympic stadium has been transformed into a soccer stadium for West Ham, and the neighborhood’s Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park provides sports venues, parklands, playgrounds, and other activities.
2. Beijing, China
Beijing National Aquatic Center was renovated to host numerous water rides and a spa area. Image courtesy of White Water West.
When the National Aquatics Center (better known as the “Water Cube”) was designed for the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008, it served as a stunning venue for the games. But after they ended, the space was transformed into China’s largest indoor water park, “Happy Magic Water Cube.” Attracting both locals and tourists from around the world, the whimsical under-the-sea themed park is used year-round.
3. Atlanta, USA
The Centennial Olympic Stadium is now a tourist district with music and events with a splash from the fountains.
Many credit the 1996 Summer Olympics in Atlanta with the transformation of downtown Atlanta, especially its now-famous Centennial Olympic Park, which before the games consisted mainly of rundown warehouses. Today, the park’s Fountain of Rings remains the world’s largest interactive fountain, and remains an icon of the city and a major tourist destination.
4. Moscow, Russia
For the 1980 Summer Olympics, Moscow made smart use of existing buildings whenever possible, and many of the buildings that were built for the games are still in use today, such as the Bitza Equestrian Complex and the Druzhba Sports Complex. In addition, the Olympic Village towers have been reused as apartments for state employees in the city.
5. Barcelona, Spain
Widely acclaimed as one of the most successful Olympic games for boosting economic growth, Barcelona’s 1992 Summer Olympics truly made a lasting impact. In preparation for the Olympics, the city of Barcelona reclaimed and renovated two miles of beaches alongside the city—transforming its image in the eyes of tourists forever. Today, Barcelona is one of the top travel destinations in Europe, and many credit the Olympic games for its revitalization.
6. Vancouver, Canada
Whether its re-living history at the Olympics museum or bettering yourself for the future at the fitness center, Richmond Olympic Oval has the best of both worlds.
When Vancouver hosted the Winter Olympics in 2010, the city built the Richmond Olympic Oval on a 32-acre plot of land along the Frasier River as a major urban waterfront initiative. Today, the Oval has been reused for many community and high performance sports, events, and is now an Olympic Museum, as well.
7. Sydney, Australia
The Sydney Showground was originally built for Sydney’s 2000 Summer Olympic games, but now serves as a multi-purpose exhibition hall and event space. The Dome, which is the largest wooden structure in the southern hemisphere, has been reused for conferences, concerts, and other private events.