Whether you’re rooting for Team USA or cheering on another team, Olympic fever is sweeping the globe. National teams are competing to become the best of the best, yet my eyes can’t seem to look away from the striking architecture that surrounds these Olympians. Every four years, the Olympic Games serve as not only a showcase for the world’s most elite athletes, but for architects and designers, as well.

These architects design and construct colossal structures in a incredibly short period of time, and in the past couple of decades, environmental design has become an underlying theme for many of these buildings. This year, in London’s quest to be one of the “greenest” Olympics, many of the unique buildings are collapsible and will be reused elsewhere – quite an Olympic feat in itself!

Here are a few of my favorites of these iconic Olympic buildings:


The Olympiastadion’s sweeping glass and steel canopies were major technical innovations in 1972. The structure is beautifully nestled into the rolling green hills and was envisioned to symbolize the new Germany after the Nazi regime. I really love the thought and detail that went into the Olympiastadion’s green chairs, so that they blend into the earth around them.


Another of the 1972 Olympics – the swim hall – has to be one of the best pool designs in the history of The Games. The unique roof is comprised of a lightweight stressed-skin structure, upheld purely by tension. The glass wall allows the natural light and landscape to flood into the space. Most remember the pool as where US swimmer Mark Spitz broke a world record by winning 7 individual gold medals.


This is one of the most iconic buildings of the Olympic Games. The dramatic visual impact and design blend modern steel construction with forms found in nature, giving it the perfect name – The Bird’s Nest! You can really see the grand scale in the bottom right image where a cleaning crew is pictured getting the building ready for the games.


This is one of London’s impermanent venues for this year’s games. The shooting venue is comprised of three tent-like structures that are noted for their extruding ventilation and entry/exit-ways that pierce through the tent walls in bright contrasting colors. The structures are collapsable and will be reused for the Paralympic Games as well as the 2012 Commonwealth Games.


And finally, a building you have all had a glimpse of at this year’s games, the Aquatic Center. To continue with London’s quest for green design, the two wings of the structure – which were created to expand the capacity for the London games – will be removed to reduce the footprint, as well as maintenance fuel and costs. I love how the diving boards sculpturally emerge from the infinity-edge pool decks. The scale must be amazing in person!