Populous Weaves Olympic Games into London’s Tapestry

by Rakks | July 27th, 2012

London Olympic Stadium

Populous, formerly HOK Sport, is considered by many to be the premier mega-stadium architectural firm on the planet. Their project list spans the globe including such infamous venues as the new Yankee Stadium, Sydney’s 2000 Olympic Stadium, the Arsenal football club’s Emirates Stadium in London and the Olympic Stadium for the Sochi, Russia 2014 Winter Olympics.

Arsenal's Emirates Stadium - London

The firm has gained so much respect from the International Olympic Committee (IOC) that they recently achieved the feat of becoming the first architectural firm in history to be an Olympic Games sponsor. It came as no surprise then, that they were chosen to create the venue designs for the 2012 London Olympics.

The characteristic that distinguishes Populous from its peers may be its ability to create a design plan that perfectly matches each location, culture and situation. In these summer games, for example, the equestrian venue is located at Greenwich Park in front of the Queen’s House. Why? Because King Henry VIII used to regularly hold jousts there.

The venue for cycling events is located at historic Hyde Park, with cyclists passing by Big Ben and other architectural masterpieces. Populous has woven the games into the fabric of London, making it impossible for a tourist or TV viewer experiencing the games to not at the same time experience a wealth of London’s history and character.

Greenwich Park

Equestrian venue under construction at Greenwich Park

London has so many household name locations and structures that it didn’t need many brand new venues to sell the city to the world. Populous’ flexibility shined as they created many of the structures, including the equestrian venue, to be temporary. London may have needed the Games, but it didn’t need new additions to an already famous skyline.

All these qualities explain why Populous’ London Olympic Stadium design has been shortlisted for Britain’s top architecture honor — the Stirling Prize, from the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA). Populous will be competing against five other finalists: The Hepworth in Wakefield, The Lyric Theatre in Belfast, Sainsbury Laboratory in Cambridge, Maggie’s Center in Glasgow and New Court in London.

The RIBA website commends the Olympic Stadium design’s ability to transform from an 80,000 seat Olympic behemoth into a smaller scale venue, all while providing the highest level of accessibility, stunning views and legacy. The winner will be announced in October.

While you watch the opening ceremonies and sporting events in this year’s Summer Olympics, you’ll simultaneously be taking in London’s history.

Thanks to Populous, it will be impossible not to.

Learn more about Populous’ Olympic bid, design and sustainability plan here.

See what’s needed to turn an 80,000 seat Olympic Stadium into a 20,000 seat post-games community center in this video:

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