US Olympic and Paralympic Museum


published in l'Arca International n. 157


US Olympic and Paralympic Museum, Colorado Springs, USA, project: Diller Scofidio+Renfro



Client: The US Olympic and Paralympic Museum; Project: Diller Scofidio+Renfro (; Partners: Benjamin Gilmartin, Elizabeth Diller, Charles Renfro, Ricardo Scofidio; Structural Engineer: Kl&a inc. in collaboration with Arup; Civil Engineer: Kiowa Engineering Corporation; Fire Engineer: Jensen Hughes; Facade Fabrication: Mg McGrath; Construction Manager and General Contractor: Ge Johnson; Photo: Jason O’Rear, Nic Lehoux East-West



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 7,000 m2 museum is located at the base of the Rocky Mountains in Colorado Springs, home of the United States Olympic Training Center. The museum acts as an anchor the new City for Champions District, forming a new axis bridging downtown Colorado Springs to the America the Beautiful Park to the west. The building, distributed on three levels, features 2,000 m2 of galleries, a state-of-the-art theater for a 130-person audience (two rows of seats are removable to accommodate a max of 26 wheelchairs), event space and café with landscaped roof. 



All visitors ascend to the top floor by elevator. Ramps guide visitors down to a gentle-grade downhill circulation path that enable easier movement. Ramps have been widened to 1.83 m to accommodate the side-by-side movement of two visitors including a wheelchair. 



Material details, including glass guardrails in the atrium for low-height visibility, cane guards integrated into benches, smooth floors for easier wheelchair movement, and loose seating in the café optimize the shared experience. 


The primary structure system consists of a steel frame superstructure, drilled shaft caisson foundations, and cast-in-place concrete lateral cores. The highly irregular, sloping, and non-orthogonal steel superstructure includes custom solutions of steelto-steel and steel-to-concrete connections, a 60-ton steel truss supported by tilted columns and struts, discontinuous lateral floors and roof diaphragms, a suspended steel-framed atrium roof surrounded by clerestory glazing, and architecturally exposed structural concrete floor slabs. 



The façade consists of over 9,000 folded anodized diamond shaped aluminum panels, each unique in shape and size. The taut skin wraps four overlapping petal-like volumes that spiral around the internal structure. Each metallic panel is animated by the extraordinary light quality in Colorado Springs, producing gradients of color and shade that give the building another sense of motion and dynamism. The diamonds panels are lifted 2,54 cm at one corner to create a scale-like directionality that tracks sunlight. 



To conform to the twisting geometry of the museum, the design team developed a curved sheathing, with coldformed metal framing, which is attached to the primary steel structure with an axial connection. Each panel is fastened to the metal framing wit Z-girts that run through to the sheathing. 



A terraced hardscape plaza is at the heart of the museum complex, cradled by the museum building to the south and the café to the north. The plaza frames a postcard view of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains beyond. With integrated amphitheater seating 230 people, the plaza is able to host outdoor events throughout the seasons. 



Les architectes ont également conçu un nouveau pont piétonnier qui enjambe sur 76 mètres une gare de triage, pour relier le complexe muséal à l’America the Beautiful Park.