At the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, aesthetics and functionality create an architectural marvel that honors past, present, and future American athletes in their pursuit for Olympic and Paralympic glory. Originally slated to open earlier in the year, the Museum finally opened on July 30, 2020.
The museum, located on 1.7 acres of land in Colorado Springs, Colorado, embodies the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic spirit by showcasing an evolving collection of athletic memorabilia from Team USA, promising a new experience each visit as future champions chase and realize their dreams.
Tasked with constructing the museum’s exterior, MG McGrath, Inc. sought to create a skin that matched architecture firm Diller, Scofidio + Renfro’s vision of a building structure and overall exterior visual effect that encapsulated the passion, dedication, and endurance of an Olympic athlete in perpetual motion. To achieve this, a system of custom metal panels with integrated gutters wraps the double-curved geometry of the façade.
Stainless steel was considered for the project, but Lorin anodized aluminum panels ultimately won over for their durability, low cost, malleability, environmentally friendly qualities, and uniform finish.
Lorin pioneered the coil anodizing process, which protects the aluminum while also improving its aesthetic properties and durability. Anodized aluminum is up to two-thirds lighter than other metals, such as stainless steel. Less weight means less material is required for any given application, so the supporting structure no longer needs to be as expensive to hold up the anodized aluminum. The panels are 100% recyclable, helping to meet the project’s LEED requirements.
For a building sure to host countless visitors, easy maintenance ensures the structure’s longevity. Lorin’s anodized stainless finish is created by an electro-chemical process that builds an anodic layer from the aluminum, molecularly bonding it to the surface. It protects aluminum from oxidation, scratching, and other hazards far better than natural oxidizing, and it requires minimal upkeep while resisting scratches and finger prints. Even with its light weight, coil anodized aluminum has an exterior surface hardness second only to diamond and is therefore unmatched in abrasion resistance and durability.
Continuous coil anodizing delivers superior aesthetics by producing a clear, translucent oxide layer that enhances the metal’s natural beauty. Its three-dimensional crystalline structure reflects and refracts light to transform the building into a living, moving structure.
Lorin anodized aluminum panels cover the exterior walls, low-slope walls and roof, as well as the interior vestibule ceiling. The clear anodize finish on the 8,500 unique panels that was chosen for the museum exterior ensures the building skin retains its characteristic metallic quality. Such a finish provides directionality to the panel surface, aiding the illusion of a body poised to pounce like a discus thrower moments before releasing the disk.
Take a look for yourself at some impressive images of the Museum, covered in this story from ArchDaily.