SBD/August 2, 2012/Olympics

Olympic Venues' Architecture Draws Praise, Approval From Columnists

The track cycling competition begins today at the Olympic Velodrome, which has "become as much a rock star as the athletes who will compete inside it,” according to Greg Bishop of the N.Y. TIMES. The $150M velodrome, nicknamed the Pringle because it is "shaped like a Pringles potato chip," was completed "earlier and sold out faster than any other Olympic site.” It won architecture design awards “before it hosted a competition.” The building “runs on a system designed to keep the track at the ideal temperature for speed, 82.4 degrees.” Below the track “lies an underflow heating system,” and the arena doors “do not open wide and they close quickly, so as to eliminate wind when spectators enter and leave.” As many as “10 employees check for temperature, for carbon dioxide and for wind levels, and adjust accordingly.” The velodrome “underscores the place track cycling has come to occupy in Britain over the past decade” (N.Y. TIMES, 8/2).

MAKING A SPLASH: The AP’s Janie McCauley wrote the Olympic Aquatics Centre is “like nothing Britain has seen.” Olympic Delivery Authority Project Exec Ian Crockford said designers examined not just Olympic requirements, but also "what we needed for the future for a really good quality community pool." The venue is “largely considered the signature design feature at Olympic Park.” The facility, which cost “about $470 million to build and was designed by renowned London architect Zaha Hadid, features state-of-the-art pools that can change depths thanks to moving floors” (AP, 8/1).

TOURING AROUND: In London, Alan Lee writes under the header, “A Trip To The Basketball Arena Proves A Hassle-Free Blast.” Lee writes the first thing that "strikes you about the Basketball Arena is that you would quite like to eat it." Lee: "Icy white and decorated with dimples, it looks like nothing so much as a giant birthday cake.” The courtside presentation during yesterday’s basketball games was “crucial, first bringing basketball alive, then giving it the brash context of its American pomp.” Twenty minutes before the first game, an “explanatory video told us how the tournament works.” The arena will host the preliminary rounds of the basketball, plus the handball finals (LONDON TIMES, 8/2).

THE ONE AND ONLY: In San Diego, Mark Zeigler writes the Horse Guards Parade, where beach volleyball competition is being held, is “pretty cool, and pretty surreal.” There has “never been an Olympic venue quite like it, and it’s hard to imagine there ever will be” (SAN DIEGO UNION-TRIBUNE, 8/2). MACLEANS’ Jonathon Gatehouse writes, “It feels like you’re sitting at the very heart of the British Empire. Until you look down and see the women in bikinis.” But as “incongruous as it all is, it works.” Gatehouse: “The crowd sings, dances and cheers. For set and match points they’re on their feet roaring. And despite the fact that most them couldn’t tell a bump from a bumper, let alone explain the scoring system, they are clearly enjoying the hell out of themselves. It’s like the Olympic’s apology for all that Skeet Shooting and Dressage. A cheese-filled, frivolous wrapping for some serious athletic competition and dedicated athletes” (MACLEANS.ca, 8/2).

COE BLOWN AWAY
: In Phoenix, Dan Bickley writes for the “most part, the Games are off to a jolly good start.” LOCOG Chair Sebastian Coe said, "I've now visited 16 sports. And I've been absolutely blown away by the noise, the vibrancy, just the humor and the excitement (at the venues). And I guess I'm happy if the people are happy" (ARIZONA REPUBLIC, 8/2).
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