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US Olympic and Paralympic Museum / Diller Scofidio + Renfro

Architect: Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Place: Colorado Springs, USA
Year: 2020
Photographer: Jason O'Rear, Nic Lehoux
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In Colorado Springs, where the United States Olympic Committee was founded in 1894, the 5,600 sqm US Olympic and Paralympic Museum designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro was inaugurated in July, about three years after the start of the works. 

The museum complex is formed by four petal-like volumes that spiral upwards around an internal structure, allowing the visitors to ascend to the top floor by elevator and to descend the galleries along a 2 m wide ramp in one continuous path. This main organization structure, ensuring visitors with and without disabilities can smoothly share the same common experience, enables the USOPM to rank amongst the most accessible museums in the world.

© Jason O’Rear

The museum features 1,850 sqm of galleries, a state-of-the-art theatre, event spaces and a cafe. The volumes are wrapped by a dramatic façade consisting of over 9,000 folded anodized diamond shaped aluminium panels. Each panel, unique in shape and size, is animated by the extraordinary light quality in Colorado, producing gradients of colour that give the building a sense of motion and dynamism, as a tribute to the grace and elegance of the athletes. The museum, developed with the advice of the Team USA Olympic and Paralympic athletes, is much more than a sports museum – commented Christopher Liedel, CEO of the museum – it is a museum of dreams and hopes and it will be, both for athletes and for their fans, a space where to celebrate friendship, determination and all those values that sport embodies.

© Jason O’Rear

At the heart of the new US Olympic and Paralympic Museum complex of Colorado Springs, designed by architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro, there is a terraced hardscape plaza that hosts a 200 seat amphitheatre for outdoor events which offers a postcard view of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains beyond. The plaza is cradled by the US Olympic and Paralympic Museum building to the south and a cafe to the north. At the ground floor of the museum there are a lobby entrance and a 12 m tall atrium, illuminated by a large skylight and characterized by the presence of white perforated GFRG (Glass Fiber Reinforced Gypsum) screens which provide views from the lobby.

© Jason O’Rear

Four glazed balconies at varying heights overlooking the atrium re-orient visitors to this central space as they move through the galleries. In addition to part of the 1,850 sqm of exhibition galleries, which spiral around the central atrium on the three levels of the museum, the ground floor houses a 185 sqm theatre that can host a 130-person audience and 26 wheelchairs. The 120 sqm event space with adjoined outdoor terrace located at the second level features a panoramic view spanning from downtown Colorado Springs to the Rocky Mountains

© Nic Lehoux

Here there are also a cafe with an additional outdoor dining area and an education room. The top floor, in addition to the exhibition galleries, houses a 75 sqm multi-functional board room with an adjacent outdoor terrace and a floorto-ceiling window that frames a view of the surrounding landscape. The museum complex will be completed by a new pedestrian bridge that will span 80 m over an active railyard to connect the museum to the nearby America the Beautiful Park.

© Nic Lehoux
© Nic Lehoux

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