U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, Colorado Springs, CO
The United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum (sometimes shortened to USOPM) is a sports museum in Colorado Springs, CO. Opened in 2020, the museum is housed in an iconic building designed by award-winning architecture firm Diller Scofidio + Renfro (DS+R).
Inaugurated on July 30, 20202, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum is part of a larger development project, named City for Champions District, located at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs, which is also home of the United States Olympic Training Center.
Above: exterior view of the United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum; photo © Jason O’Rear.
Sited on the city’s outskirts adjacent to the America The Beautiful Park, the USOPM complex consists of two buildings: a larger construction, containing most of the museum’s spaces, and a smaller one that accommodates the cafe and an education space, separated by a large terraced plaza.
According to the architects, the dynamic form of the museum was inspired both by the famous Pikes Peak – a 14,115-foot granite summit 12 miles west of downtown Colorado Springs whose profile is easily visible from the museum’s plaza – and by the movements of an athlete, like those of a spinning discus thrower.
To further emphasize the fluid form of the museum, its facades were clad with over 9,000 diamond-shaped anodized aluminum panels, each unique in shape, which subtly reflect the surrounding sky and landscape, thus giving the building skin an always-changing look.
“A taut aluminum façade flexes and twists over the building’s dynamic pinwheel form, drawing inspiration from the energy and grace of Olympians and Paralympians. Inside, descending galleries are organized along a continuous spiral, enabling visitors of all abilities to have a shared, common experience along a universal pathway”.
Benjamin Gilmartin, Architect, and Partner at Diller Scofidio + Renfro
With a total floor area of 60,000 square feet, the museum contains about 20,000 square feet of exhibition area, a 132-seat theater, education rooms, an event space, a museum store, and a cafe.
Satellite and bird’s eye views of the museum; photos © Jason O’Rear.
A panoramic view with the museum building on the left, the cafe building on the right, the terraced plaza in the center, and Pikes Peak in the background. Photo © Jason O’Rear.
A conceptual drawing showing how the movement of an athlete (a disc thrower, in this case) influenced the design of the museum. Image by Diller Scofidio + Renfro.
The terraced plaza of the museum. Photo © Nic Lehoux.
Visit and permanent exhibition
The public enters the museum descending from the terraced plaza into a triple-height atrium by a long ramp. The atrium level also accommodates the ticket and information desks, the auditorium, two galleries – one of which, named “Hall of Fame” opens directly into the atrium, administration offices, and the museum’s store, while all other galleries and an event space are located on the second and third levels.
Designed by museum planning firm Gallagher & Associates, the permanent exhibition of the United States Olympic and Paralympic Museum features a combination of physical exhibits and artifacts, interactive installations, and multimedia exhibits.
The exhibition is divided into twelve galleries covering various subjects related to the Olympic and Paralympic Games including the history of the Summer and Winter Games, the training of the Team USA athletes, the role of science and technology in modern sports, the impact of the Games on history and culture, and stories of American Olympic and Paralympic athletes; there is even a gallery featuring an almost complete collection of Olympic medals.
The floor-to-ceiling atrium of the museum, one of the permanent exhibition galleries, a 30-meter track in which visitors can compete against a number of virtual Olympic sprinters, and a gallery with a large display featuring a collection of Olympic torches. Photos © Jason O’Rear and © Nic Lehoux.
Close-up view of the building’s skin, consisting of over 9,000 anodized aluminum panels. Photo © Jason O’Rear.
Aerial view of the USOPM complex. Photo © Jason O’Rear.
Plans of the ground floor, second floor, and third floor. Images by Diller Scofidio + Renfro
East and north elevations. Images by Diller Scofidio + Renfro
Views from the north (© Nic Lehoux) and from the west © Jason O’Rear.
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