To judge by my online Google search under “2018 olympic architecture,” the athletic venues and other structures built for this year’s Winter Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea, failed to capture the interest of the major architectural media.
Maybe this professional yawn has something to do with one of the venues, the Yongpyong Alpine Center, which is traditional. (See above.) “Hey!” cried the combined editorial staff of the global architectural media, “They seem to have forgotten to get with the modernist program! That will surely impact their overall technical score in a negative manner!”
The Olympic Stadium (above left), where the lovely opening ceremonies took place last week, is a pentagon, of all things, lower-cased but no doubt still too close for comfort to the one in Alexandria, Va. Won’t that undercut the heroic Olympic diplomacy between Seoul and Pyongyang?
Where are the gravity-defying alien spaceships we’ve come to expect at the Olympiads of the past several decades?
I could find only one attempt to display a wide range of venues and none displaying every facility. The former was not in Architect, or Architectural Digest, or some other established architectural media outlet. No, it was in Business Insider: “South Korea spent over $1 billion on these mega-venues for the 2018 Winter Olympics – take a look!” by Leanna Garfield.
Scroll down and you’ll see more than your share of modernist venues, except that most of them are relatively modest affairs that look like standard-issue modernist stadia and sports facilities, eschewing the seriously over-the-top Look At Me-ism that host nations think they are expected to provide.
The only entry in that category at Business Insider is the buggy, sinister
Oddly enough, the most celebrated of the modernist structures to go up among South Korea’s archipelago of sites was not included in the Business Insider report. It is the black box financed by Hyundai and covered as a solo phenomenon in several magazines. Architect maggie devoted a piece to the “Hyundai Pavilion,” designed by London architect Asif Khan. The pavilion is coated entirely in a material called Vantablack VBx2, which absorbs 99 percent of all the light that hits it, “diminishing its three dimensionality and creating,” says the architect, “the illusion of a startling black void in broad daylight.” The blackest of blacks – “superblack” – with bright stars embedded in its exterior façades.
Sounds fascinating. Looks boring. Yet it ought to have been in that roundup.
But hey, the Pentagon didn’t make it into Business Insider either.
Oh well. Maybe the next Summer Games, 2020 in Tokyo, will be ridiculous enough to spark sustained interest from the profession’s media big-feet!