Architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro has completed its sculptural US Olympic and Paralympic Museum, which opens today, around a spiraling ramp to make it one of the most accessible museums in the world.
The US Olympic and Paralympic Museum is a tribute to the Olympic and Paralympic movements with Team USA athletes at the center of the experience. The 60,000 sf building designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, features 20,000 sf of galleries, a state-of-the-art theater, event space and cafe.
Inspired by the energy and grace of the Team USA athletes and the organization’s inclusive values, the building’s dynamic spiraling form allows visitors to descend the galleries in one continuous path. This main organization structure enables the museum to rank amongst the most accessible museums in the world, ensuring visitors with and without disabilities can smoothly share the same common experience.
A terraced hardscape plaza is at the heart of the museum complex, cradled by the museum building to the south and the cafe to the north. The plaza frames a postcard view of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains beyond. With integrated amphitheater seating for 230 people, the plaza is able to host outdoor events throughout the seasons, from the winter games through the summer games.
Within the soaring, 40-foot tall atrium of the US Olympic and Paralypmpic Museum, Diller Scofidio + Renfro introduces a skylight which illuminates softly perforated screens. Four balconies at varying heights overlooking the atrium re-orient visitors to this central space as they move through the galleries.
DS+R designed 20,000 sf of gallery space as overlapping petals that wrap around the central atrium. Clerestory lighting at the seams between these petals provides soft daylight emanating from the central atrium space, terminating at vertical windows at the building’s perimeter. This lighting strategy doubles as wayfinding, orienting visitors back to the atrium, and situating them along a trajectory that moves through the galleries, which feature immersive interactive exhibitions designed by Gallagher Associates.
A 130-person theatre is located on the ground floor with two rows seats that can be removed to accommodate 26 wheelchairs – the equivalent of a full Paralympic hockey team. On the first floor is a 1,300-square-foot (396-square-metre) events space with views of downtown Colorado Springs and the Rocky Mountain that opens onto an outdoor terrace. The second floor also has a boardroom with outdoor access.
A museum shop extends from the main museum to link to another building with a green roof on the other side of a terraced, outdoor plaza, which was placed to make the most of views to Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains. This additional building contains a cafe with access to outdoor dining, that is designed to serve as a restaurant, as well a space to host educational programs and meetings.
Diller Scofidio + Renfro also created a new 250-feet-long pedestrian bridge that extends from the museum over an active railyard to America the Beautiful Park. The bridge is composed of six prefabricated sections that will be assembled later this year.