With less than 1,000 days until the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, construction work is well under way in the city’s upscale Barra de Tijuca district, which will serve as the primary site for the sporting mega-event—the first ever to be held in South America.
Designed by global consultancy AECOM (the same firm behind the 2012 London Olympics) in partnership with DG Architecture and Wilkinson Eyre Architects, the master plan aims to celebrate Brazil’s emergence as a world power and cement a legacy for the city after the Games have ended. It calls for the transformation of a 300-acre peninsula into a winding, tropical Olympic Park, complete with seven new sporting venues, a waterfront lawn that will allow 12,000 spectators to watch events on big screens, and an International Broadcasting Center capable of accommodating 20,000 international journalists.
In the spirit of sustainability that emerged at the 2012 Games—as well as the desire to avoid the costly white elephants that have come to define past Olympiads—the plan is heavily tilted towards the reuse of former sporting venues and the creation of temporary facilities. The park itself will be built on a former Formula One racetrack, and centered around the Maria Lenk Aquatic Center, the Velodrome, and HSBC Arena, all of which were built for the 2007 Pan-American Games.
“Using our experience, we want to ensure that the investment and energy focused on the Barra neighborhood will promote the greatest possible benefit in the long-term,” said Bill Hanway, AECOM’s chief executive.
Among the new facilities, the new 376,000-square-foot Handball Arena is perhaps the most impressive of all, with a design that can be disassembled and remade into four schools, each with room for 500 students. Other permanent venues, such as the coming Tennis Center (which also includes a variety of temporary spaces within it), will be concentrated around the existing facilities and combined into an Olympic Training Center after the event, which planners hope will become a global center for sport-specific training and development in the years ahead.
View a video on AECOM’s master plan for the 2016 Olympics here.