Olympics 2012: Paris
In November, Paris revealed its “one village, two poles” plan for the summer 2012 Olympics. Passed over for 2008, the French have learned from their mistakes. Instead of spreading sporting venues around the city, they’ve concentrated on two poles of activity that together would host 75 percent of events. Most symbolically, they’ve brought the Olympic Village inside the city limits, so that the athletes can enjoy the City of Lights.
The primary Olympic pole would be located just north of the city around the Stade de France, the open-air stadium built to host the 1998 Soccer World Cup and to accommodate track and field. New construction, including the media center and new sports venues, would be built nearby. To the west, a second, largely existing pole includes Roland Garros Stadium, site of the French Tennis Open, the Parc des Princes soccer stadium, and the horse racing tracks and expansive grounds within the Bois de Boulogne park.
Located between the two poles, on one of the last zones of land to be developed in Paris, would be the Olympic Village. The land, largely covered by tracks, is owned by the state railroad. The city was already planning to develop the area, building low-cost housing, student housing, retail, offices, and a 25-acre park. The area’s historic brick warehouses, until recently used by the Paris Opera to store sets and costumes, would become the Olympic canteen. In January, a temporary tower made of helium-filled, Olympic-colored rings, a viewing platform, and an information booth, were scheduled to open on the site. In all, the city’s bid benefits from $4.2 billion already slated for urban renewal and infrastructure improvements throughout the city.
Additional projects include six temporary pavilions (preventing cost overruns by avoiding structures that won’t be sustainable once the Olympics leave) built with reusable materials that would house events like weight lifting and handball. Permanent structures would include an amorphous Aquatic Center, and the Super Dome, a 22,000-seat indoor stadium built at the northern edge of Paris to host gymnastics.
While the bid committee has presented detailed renderings of the unbuilt projects, no architects have been officially chosen. Of course, the real star of the bid is Paris itself; for instance, organizers have placed beach volleyball in the shadow of the Eiffel Tower. After a proposed investment of $5.33 billion to host the games, Paris will be looking to solidify its standing as the world’s most visited city.