Kindling the Olympic Spirit with Metal

Lorin anodized aluminum panels; photo courtesy of DesignandBuildwithMetal

Despite the postponement of the 2020 Summer Olympics, one project commemorating the history and spirit of the games, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum, opened on July 30. The museum was built on 1.7 acres of land near Pikes Peak, blocks away from the U.S. Olympic Committee headquarters. reports, “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.” To accomplish this, Lorin anodized aluminum panels were selected to create the system of custom metal panels to wrap the double-curved geometry of the façade. The metal was also selected for its durability, low cost, malleability, environmentally friendly qualities, and color and finish.

The article states, “Lorin Industries Inc., the global industry leader in the innovation and production of coil anodized aluminum, pioneered the cost-effective 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. For a project funded by contributions and taxpayers, maintaining a low cost was essential. Anodized aluminum was more economical than the stainless steel option, and its resilience ensures the panels will last long into future Olympic competitions.”

East of maintenance, color and finish were also key elements in selecting the Lorin material. The special anodizing process protects the aluminum from oxidation, scratching, and other hazards far better than natural oxidizing to ensure the longevity and aesthetics of a building that will host countless visitors.

To honor the long history of Olympic sport, the aluminum skin creates a sense of perpetual motion and its characteristic metallic quality is reminiscent of Olympic medals. The article goes on to say, “The aluminum skin wrapped around the building creates the illusion of a body poised to pounce like a discus thrower, captured moments before releasing the disk. Continuous coil anodizing also 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.”

Lastly, the museum prioritizes environmentally friendly materials given its location in the mountains. The anodized aluminum panels are 100% recyclable helping to meet the project’s LEED requirements.

Since before and now since its opening, the accolades for the Museum’s design have been pouring in: Smithsonian magazine named the Museum among its Most Anticipated Museum Openings of 2020The New York Times listed the Museum as one of the Places to Go in 2020; and Architectural Digest named the Museum one of the most anticipated buildings of 2020.

According to the Museum’s website, “The Museum will be one of the most accessible and interactive museums in the United States. Visitors of all abilities will be able to experience the exhibits through inclusive design and assistive technologies such as mobile apps, video captions, audio description tracks, universal keypads, RFID-triggered customizations and more.”

Photo courtesy of: Architect Magazine