Midwest Olympic-Paralympic

ARCH 572 | Fall 2013
Assistant Professor Carl Lewis 

From ancient civilizations to the present day, sports have transformed into a social, economic and cultural phenomena; and more importantly, a significant and unique element of our society.  We’re affected not just through the obvious active participation of the elite athletes, but more notably for its positive impact on our personal health. The evolution of the recreational or “weekend warrior” athlete has erupted, i.e., training/working out in recreational centers, competitive sports events (Marathon, Iron Man, adult leagues, etc.)  As a result, sports have become the most popular cultural and nationalistic expression throughout all international societies to accommodate everyone’s interests-active or passive.  

Statement of Problem

The Olympic Oath states "In the name of all the competitors I promise that we shall take part in these Olympic Games, respecting and abiding by the rules which govern them, committing ourselves to a sport without doping and without drugs, in the true spirit of sportsmanship, for the glory of sport and the honour of our teams."  This is an example of how sports have become a lexicon in the global culture as athletes aspire to compete in the Olympic and Paralympic games.  For a few weeks, millions of people come together to stand, cheer and express national pride…to celebrate our common humanity.  More importantly, we forget our differences and honor our sameness.  The advances in science and technology have allowed people with disabilities to interact and participate in society farther than imagined just twenty-five years ago.  This allowed people with disabilities, in some cases, to physically compete on an even “playing field” with their able-bodied peers.  As a result, the number of athletes participating in the summer games has increased from 400 athletes from 23 countries during the 1960 Rome Olympiad, to over 14,000 athletes from 204 countries competing at the London Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2012.


Architectural design for sport venues involves more than structure and construction, but should be seen as a reflection of our cultural and societal development.  This studio will explore design principles that should reveal and describe the patterns that give life and fulfillment to the community.  

Studio Expectations

The design process will include an emphasis on the sport culture and related research (social, behavioral and physiological), readings and site evaluation. Research will be conducted individually and as a studio. The design process will focus heavily on both physical and digital modeling techniques; and historical and theoretical design applications. The scale of the project is expected to relate specifically to the culture and philosophies of the user, i.e., “connection of the culture and abilities”.  It will be a project combining master-planning/urban design techniques with, primarily, a building design scale of 200,000 square feet or more, dependent upon the individual student’s program development during the course of the studio.  The final studio product will explore exhibition style presentation methodologies, e.g., competition style boards (including digital represented graphics), physical models (including 3D imaging), and digital animation.