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A Proposal for an Aquatics Complex for the Chicago 2016 Summer Olympic Games Bid
Paisajes Emergentes

In the past couple of months, the IOC mafia has been inspecting the four cities vying for the rights to host the 2016 Summer Olympic Games. Naturally, our curiosity in Chicago's candidacy heightened a bit; we even felt compelled to look through the city's updated bid book, heading straight first for what people really care about: the pretty pictures of proposed venues.

Amidst the technicolor gumbo of humdrums, the aquatics complex is a noticeable thick glop. Remember when you're watching a major stadium sporting event and the camera pans for a few seconds outside, catching sights of adjacent buildings — those temporary structures wrapped in white tarpaulin, topped with awnings, used as crafts service stations and staging area? Placed as it is next to the proposed Olympic Stadium, Chicago's aquatics complex is sort of like a collection of those outhouses.

Of course, this is not to say that the venue isn't going to redeem itself in other key areas. Aesthetically unimpressive it may be, it could leave a truly lasting legacy, filled in the many years to come with raucous kids and their families from the surrounding neighborhoods instead of staying empty until the rare national or international competition comes along, accumulating large maintenance bills with only the Flickr hordes frotteurising its skillfully designed skin to keep it company. Bucking the trend of the past two Olympics, it might not also morph into some ethically obscene monster, disenfranchising people left and right, funneling funds from social services and ruining the city's cultural heritage. It might even attain a LEED Quadruple Gold-Diamond Crown rating. And during the two weeks of competition, everyone's spirits are elevated higher than ever before, their soul stirred into rapture.

All we're saying is that the physical elements of the proposal could be more interesting.

Paisajes Emergentes

As a counter venue, then, we propose a concept aquatics complex in the middle of Lake Michigan.

The superstructure, constructed on land and towed into place, will be wholly submerged, tethered to the lakebed with anchors or resting on pylons. Underwater may be an entire oil rig or Tatlin's decoiled tower, but only jutting out will be the viewing stands, the diving platforms and a few other decorative verticals. A circulation network of gangplanks, metallic or of fine timber, will just break the surface.

While the main competition pools are closed containers, the practice lanes may just simply be on open water. The actual spaces of these ancillary pools are delineated by border frames. These Euclidian hydro-geometries, in turn, will be arranged so that from Google Maps, they will look like they belong in a Piet Mondrian grid painting or a Suprematist collage.

Something like BIG's Copenhagen Harbour Bath, Wilk-Salina's Berlin Badeschiff and White's Kastrup Sea Bath but much further away from shore, much more sprawling and much less of that solid stuff visible.

If the Water Cube and London's Aquatics Centre are pure architecture and pure engineering, this natatorium is pure landscape.

Floating Pool

Yet Another Proposal for an Aquatics Complex for the Chicago 2016 Summer Olympic Games Bid

  • Georgia
  • May 14, 2009 at 8:40:00 PM CDT
  • Brilliant. A celebration of an essential part of Chicago. No hand-wringing about where to construct the Olympic pool(s) and how to program it/ them post-Olympics. And, your idea could be an annual transformation of the Lake.

  • Rich
  • May 15, 2009 at 4:45:00 PM CDT
  • Totally love this!

  • Anonymous
  • May 18, 2009 at 8:52:00 PM CDT
  • Maybe parts of the circulation network could be wavy, like the Simcoe Wavedeck of West 8's Toronto Central Waterfront? I can see those serving as seats as well as footpaths.

  • Georgia
  • October 3, 2009 at 5:13:00 PM CDT
  • Maybe Chicago will win the next bid?!

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