Architecture as an Olympic Event


Starting in the 1912 Olympics in Stockholm, art became a part of the competitions. Baron Pierre de Coubertin, the founder of the modern Olympics believed that the arts were always intended to be part of the Olympics. Basing his ideas on the ancient Olympics which included competitions for music, singing and public speaking, de Coubertin added the following categories: architecture, literature, music, painting, and sculpture. These categories were later broken down into subcategories like literature in a drama, lyric or epic; orchestral and instrumental music, solo and chorus singing; drawings, graphic arts, and paintings; statues, reliefs, medals, plaques, and medallions. All works of art had to relate to sports in some way.

Some of the most notable architectural projects are the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam, designed by architect Jan Wils (Olympic gold in 1928), Payne Whitney Gymnasium at Yale University designed by architect John Russell Pope (Olympic silver in 1932), and the Olympic Stadium in Wroclaw designed by architect Richard Konwiarz (bronze at the 1932 Olympics).

In 1949, the arts were no longer a part of the Olympic competitions because almost all contestants were professionals and did not properly reflect the amateur status required of the Olympics. From then on, the arts were to be appreciated through exhibitions rather than competitions.

-Sydney Hitchens, Associate Designer