Athens' original Panathinaiko Stadium was used for the games in ancient Greece; the original wooden stands were rebuilt in marble in 329 B.C. The stadium was renovated and used for the first modern Olympic Games in 1894.
I love the combination of modern design and traditional Japanese vernacular in the tower near the Komazawa Gymnasium in Tokyo.
Yoyogi National Gymnasium was designed by one of my idols, Kenzo Tange. The roof is a structural system of suspension cables and concrete forms — an elegant example of form following function. It also was a major inspiration for the structures designed for the Munich Olympics a few years later.
The designs for the Munich Olympics are my favorites. The site was beautifully sculpted into rolling green hills. The main stadium here is perfectly sited into those hills. All the seats are green to match the grass. The tent-like suspended fabric-and-acrylic glass roof system was a major technical innovation for the time, and it is just spectacular.
Munich's Olympia Schwimmhalle may be the most beautiful swimming pool I've ever seen. This is where swimmer Mark Spitz broke the record for the most individual gold medals won in a single Olympics (he earned seven). The undulating glass wall ties the building to the site and floods the space with light. Add a tentlike roof system and, well ... it's architect heaven. Give me a moment.
Three words: giant retractable roof.
I love the simplicity of the Vikingskipet ("The Viking Ship") in Hamar. Large buildings such as these require significant structural members to span the long volume of space inside, so most of them are skinned with complex structural framing. Leave it to Norway to find a way to refine the design into a simple, pure geometry. I think the result is elegant.
The Olympic Velodrome in Athens is a pretty straightforward design for Santiago Calatrava; he can tend toward the extravagant for my taste. But this stadium is nicely done. A suspension roof is used again here to span the large space within. I particularly like the way the two main parabolic structural beams are held high above the main roof. Really, you can't go wrong with parabolas.
It's a simple concept: swimming center = bubbles! Actually, that's a stupid concept, but, in my mind, they pulled it off at the Beijing National Aquatics Center.
This is hands down the most iconic Olympic building I can think of. I find myself endlessly fascinated by it. Plus, "The Bird's Nest" is a perfect nickname.
That is just a great space.
They've done a nice job on the Olympic stadium this year in London. I love the simple circular form and the clean, structural x-frame skin around the exterior. But, the sculpture on the left? That's just nuts. They make an odd pair. It's like watching John Cleese recite Shakespeare. In other words, it totally works.