Interiors Awards 2011: Sports/Entertainment Winner

John Sinal

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project: U.S. Olympic Committee, USA House, 2010 Winter Games
client: United States Olympic Committee
location: Vancouver, B.C., Canada
designer: Atlas Architects and Allan Bell Design

When something happens once every four years, it’s guaranteed to be an event—as in the Winter Olympics, a snow-bound spectacle that celebrates athleticism, nationalism, and unity on the world sta Sports/Entertainment Winner: U.S. Olympic Committee, USA House, 2010 Winter Games ge. Architecture for such an event needs to balance the desire for pageantry with the reality of impermanence, because after 17 days of competition, press conferences, banquets, and parties, the affair packs up and waits four years for the next big show. Such was the case with the U.S. Olympic Committee, USA House design by Atlas Architects with interiors by Allan Bell Design.

The USA House is the administration and hospitality venue for the U.S. Olympic Committee. It holds office space and hosts parties. Sponsors can conduct business in the office areas, and credentialed and non-credentialed media professionals use it, too. This is where medaling athletes hold their press conferences and subsequent after-parties. Guests can take advantage of the full catering kitchen, which serves meals from 6 a.m. until 10 p.m.

Usually the USA House is constructed in an existing space, often one with an interesting pedigree. “In Torino it was a club right on the Po River. The Athens’ venue overlooked the Acropolis. This was the second time we built out our own raw space,” says Jerry Roush, the managing director of meeting and event services, U.S. Olympic Committee during the time of the project (and now vice president, events and hospitality, at 776 Original Marketing).

Roush admits to preferring the convenience of a custom build-out as opposed to shoehorning the organization’s needs into a charismatic shell. “We got to specify everything to our needs,” she says. Still, client and architect remained cognizant of the space’s fleeting nature. “We wanted to create something that would have a life span past the games,” recalls Jason Foster, principal at Atlas Architects.

To that end, conference rooms and offices can all be repurposed. The security desk can be easily modified to a reception space. The art gallery-like, tone-on-tone palette works for a variety of clients. The 100-ft.-long bar is admittedly sacrificial, but the components could be used for something else at a later date. “We used local materials as often as possible,” says Foster. “And the forms are evocative of ice and glaciers and winter.”

The space hints at the team’s logo without hitting guests over the head. Sponsor logos were tightly managed, as well as the two pop-up retail stores on the property. Lighting is reminiscent of a hockey rink. “We had to walk a fine line,” Roush notes. “Sponsors and donors have to be acknowledged, but the space can’t be too opulent.”

Project: U.S. Olympic Committee, USA House, 2010 Winter Games. Client: United States Olympic Committee. Architect: Atlas Architects; Jason Foster LEED AP, principal; Jesse Hulse, NCARB, principal. Interior designer: Allan Bell Design. Contractor: Onni Development. Lighting: Atlas Architects and Allan Bell. Kitchen, landscape, graphics engineering: Letterbox Design. Furniture dealer: Henriksen/Butler. Other: Metropolitan Fine Printers, graphics. Photographer: John Sinal.

Paint: Benjamin Moore. Carpet/carpet tile: Interface. Carpet fiber: Aquafil type 6 and PLA. Lighting: SPI, main dining linear fixtures. Glass: Polygal (interior windows). Workstations, workstation seating, conference table, files: Herman Miller. Lounge seating: Herman Miller, Arcadia. Cafeteria, dining: Herman Miller, Geiger, Emeco. Upholstery: Maharam, Designtex. Cafeteria, dining, training tables: Herman Miller, Herman Miller bases with WCI custom tops, Bretford. Shelving: Eagle Industries. Planters, accessories: Jensen’s Architectural Millwork. Signage: Letterbox Design.

Location: Vancouver, B.C., Canada. Total floor area: 25,000 sq. ft. No. of floors: 3. Average floor size: 8,300 sq. ft. Total staff size: 90 staff, 15,000 guests.

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