Colorado Springs is home to the flagship training center that draws athletes and tourists alike. The new U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum complements the existing facility while bringing the historic, inspiring stories of elite American athletes to life. Working with design architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Anderson Mason Dale Architects, structural design collaborator KL&A, and exhibit designers Gallagher & Associates, we provided acoustic, audiovisual, and theatre design services and structural, mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and bridge engineering for the project.
The structural system offers an open, inviting façade to the public while evoking dynamic movement. The technology-driven, experiential exhibits invite visitors to explore the Games’ history, understand the arduous journey to the Olympics and Paralympics, feel the weight of competition, and observe the long-lasting impact of the Games on popular culture and media.
Immersive and interactive acoustic and audiovisual design
The acoustic and audiovisual design of the new U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum brings the museum to life in a way that leaves a lasting impression. We collaborated with exhibit designers, Gallagher & Associates, to create exhibits that put visitors at the very center of the action, fully immersing guests in some of the Games’ most poignant moments.
Many U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes recalled the Parade of Nations during the Opening Ceremony as a key memory. We implemented artfully controlled acoustic design with a 3D sound system and projection to immerse visitors in the awe-inspiring moment. In another exhibit, large-scale projections allow visitors to race against world-class sprinters to experience the speed of the fastest U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes.
20,000ft²of exhibit space
Inclusive and accessible exhibit and venue design
The project teams carefully considered the inclusivity of the exhibits’ design, from physical layout to the media content itself, which accommodates visitors with vision and hearing impairments. The exhibits are also radio frequency identification (RFID) enabled, which allows for personalization. The exhibits will respond to your personal details and preferences, including accessibility needs, and can then store your activities and performance for later.
The museum also features a large, multimedia theater, which can be used for events, press conferences, and inductions into the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Hall of Fame. The state-of-the-art theater features a custom-produced film played on an extra wide edge-blended projection screen with surround-sound audio. Within the theater, the building’s ramp continues to allow easy navigation by guests in wheelchairs. The seating and sightline plan includes up to 26 seats for wheelchairs so an entire Paralympic sled hockey team can use the theater simultaneously.
The Games unite the nation and the world. We’re proud to have contributed to this one-of-a-kind project that celebrates the legacy of Olympic and Paralympic athletes. Creating an accessible museum led to a unique approach and informed our entire design process — from the application of interactive technologies to the layout of the theater. Collaborating with both the base-building and exhibit design teams allowed for a holistic approach to our technical solutions. ”Nathan Blum Associate Principal, Acoustics, Audiovisual, and Theatre
Circumventing environmental sound through Arup’s SoundLab
The museum is located adjacent to a freight rail corridor and rail yard. We performed noise and vibration studies to assess the impact of the rail movements on the museum. Using the SoundLab, a 3D auralization environment, we demonstrated the impact of noise from the rail movements on the theater and other museum spaces. This enabled museum stakeholders and the design team to make an informed decision on acoustic mitigation options. Ultimately, we decided to isolate the theater from vibration using a box-in-box construction, like building a room within a room, to minimize noise impacts on the space.
Structure and façade evoke dynamic movement
Working with Diller Scofidio + Renfro, Anderson Mason Dale Architects, and KL&A was a true collaboration which enabled us to derive a framework of structure integral to the building form. Our team derived a structural system aligned with the facets of the façade, which generates efficient structural action while evoking a sense of movement that celebrates the Olympic and Paralympic Games. A grand cantilevered truss suspends the upper galleries above the entrance to the museum, creating a sweeping clear span and a welcome and inclusive entrance for visitors. Both artful and practical, the façade was brought to site in large pieces and assembled there. The result stands as a cohesive, integrated vision in addition to a functional solution.
The structure carrying the exterior facade also serves to support the building itself. The multifaceted benefits of this include eliminated interior columns, ease of future renovation, and reduced construction costs, time, and complexity.
This project was a wonderful opportunity to work with a design team aligned behind a clear and meaningful purpose. We are only hopeful that the museum inspires a sense of unity by celebrating the commitment of our finest athletes and the excitement of the games. ”Dan Brodkin Principal, Structural Project Director
Wave-like pedestrian bridge connects museum to community
Arup’s structural engineers also collaborated with Diller Scofidio + Renfro on the adjacent Southwest Downtown Pedestrian Bridge, slated to open in 2021, which will connect the museum to the America the Beautiful Park. Called the rip curl for its cresting design, the footbridge will span 250ft and extend over active rail lines. The prefabricated bridge was assembled in a staging area and driven into place using self-propelled modular transporters over the course of a single weekend, minimizing outage for the rail lines and yard.
Hero image courtesy of James O'Rear. All other images courtesy of Nic Lehoux.