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Here Now, 10 Buildings Actually Finished in Time for Sochi

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Considering none of the Olympic buildings for the Sochi 2014 Games are as crazy as, say, London's most bonkers Olympics offerings, there has been no dearth of drama surrounding this year's (unfinished, ridiculously expensive) architectural opus. With journalists clotting social media sites with reports of tarp ceilings, lobby-less hotels, and tap water with "something very dangerous" in it, it's easy to forget that, yes, part of the reported $51B (a record, and $10B more than what was spent by Beijing in 2008) spent on "Putin's Dream" for Sochi 2014 went toward the construction of presumably high-quality sports arenas. Considering the opening ceremony happens tomorrow, now seems like the appropriate time to check in on it all the architectural intel (like how Sochi plans to keep its investments from falling into the quagmire of disuse that has plagued so many Olympic cities), photos, and general brouhaha.

All photos via Sochi 2014's official site

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In 2009, sports facilities firm Populous was tapped to create Sochi's master plan, a network of competition and non-competition facilities. Its crown jewel: a 40,000-seat stadium with an aesthetic inspired by Fabergé eggs. It officially debuts Feb. 7, but if all went according to plan, the arena, named after the nearby Mount Fisht, has a semi-clear, bi-winged polycarbonate "shell" roof supported by some 8,000 tons of steel. It's all vaguely scarab beetle-shaped, with three sides of stadium seating and hangars used as temporary stages. Archibabble:

From Arch Daily: "Its sweeping form responds to both its coastal location and mountainous backdrop, whilst its crystalline skin engages with its surroundings by day, and provides an iconic representation of the colour [sic] and spectacle of the games when illuminated at night."

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When not being used for ice sledge hockey later this month, the 7,000-seat Shayba ("hockey puck" in Russian) Arena, a transportable facility that cost some $27.2M to build, will be ran by the International Ice Hockey Federation, which is considering moving the whole shebang to another Russian city post-Olympics. Archibabble:

From the official Sochi 2014 website: "For Russians, shouting 'Shaybu!' is a universal and familiar way of supporting hockey teams at the international championships. Therefore, this name represents the character of the 'Russian' Winter Games."

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Construction on the Bolshoy Ice Dome, a 12,000-seat arena to host the other ice hockey events in Sochi, wrapped in 2012, with a budget bottom line of $180.1M. The contractor, Russian firm SIC Mostovik, was inspired by the "precious Easter gift of the Russian emperor's family"—but, you know, with LEDs. Another important observation: from above it looks very much like a computer mouse. Archibabble:

From Arch Daily: "The glazing wave-like curve has two extremums that are facing Olympic park and Caucasus Mountains on one side and Black Sea on another. This façade allows visitors to enjoy the remarkable views and makes visible its interior from the outside, inviting to step in. Glossy aluminum composite panels of pearl color cover the shell of the building reflecting the surroundings and the changes of the daylight."

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Adler Arena sits like a salt lick at the center of what's known as the Coastal Cluster of Olympic Park. In 2012 the $32.8M facility opened to host the Russian Speed Skating Championships, and housed the World Single Distance Speed Skating Championships last March. The structure is meant to be crystalline, with transparent walls and triangular stained-glass windows.

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With room for 12,000, this $43.9M "palace," home to figure skating and short track speed skating, required 15,000 tons of steel. Built by Moscow research and design institute GUP MNIIP mosproject-4, Iceberg got an Olympic test run during 2012-2013 Grand Prix of Figure Skating Final. The initial post-Olympics plan was to convert it into a cycling velodrome, though Russia's Sports Ministry has since said it may be kept open as a training base for skaters. Archibabble:

From Design Boom: "Externally the games' branding and color scheme is referenced in the shades of blue used, while the silhouettes of the surrounding mountains and the waves of the black sea are reflected in the structure's sweeping form. The flexible nature of the design means that it takes only two hours to adjust the ice field—switching between figure skating and short track configurations."

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This year curling gets its own facility, a 3,000-seat arena that can be dismantled and brought to other cities. The cost? $14M. Archibabble:

From the Sochi 2014 official site: "The 'Ice Cube' Curling Center is simplistic in its design, which symbolizes democracy, and accessibility alongside the festivity."

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Archibabble Storytime:

"Laura is a turbulent mountain river with a large number of waterfalls. It has its source in the southern slopes of the Assar, within the boundaries of the Caucasian nature reserve. The name of the river is based on a legend of a young girl called Laura who chose death over living with an old prince she did not love. After running away from the prince, Laura jumped of a rock into the river that was later named after her. Murat, Laura's lover, could not live with the pain of their parting and jumped in after his bride. The lovers' bodies were never found and local inhabitants say that the Gods were so moved by what had happened that they took them to the heavens the summit of the sacred Mount Elbrus."

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Earlier this week the Times reported on the "extremely perilous" nature of the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park, opening the piece with an anecdote about a moguls skier from Australia who, while practicing, somersaulted ("a rag-doll maneuver") her way to the finish marker, which ultimately had "the skier's body wrapped around its base." Apparently snowboarders have told officials they think the place is too dangerous; one medal contender dropped out after breaking his collarbone earlier in the week. Superstar American medalist Shaun White said "it's intimidating." Other than that, information is scarce: it'll be used for the cross-country skiing, aerial, moguls, boardercross, and half-pipe events, making it large enough to justify Russia's decision to make the park a permanent venue.

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The Sliding Center Sanki, home to the bobsleigh, luge, and skeleton tracks, has long been embroiled in a bit of safety controversy. All seven locations submitted to the International Bobsleigh and Tobogganing Federation—that's a thing!—were rejected because the slopes were too steep. The International Luge Federation (FIL) has come out saying it "is not to blame for the problems occurring in connection with the track location." Comforting. Ah, but take heart! Since then, the president of the FIL has said everything is just fine and dandy with the location. What's more, the official Olympic site says "state-of-the-art technology ensures optimum temperature control along the entire length of the track." Archibabble:

From the Sochi 2014 website: "Mass sliding on sledges, sleighs and snow saucers has been a traditional Russian pastime since the times of Peter I and sledges have always been an integral part of winter leisure for all children in Russia. They are a source of positive emotions and pleasant childhood memories and the name highlights the flavor of the Games and accurately reflects the functional purpose of the sports venue."

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Tucked into the Esto-Sadok village on the northern bit of Aibga Ridge, the facility was built in Dec. 2011 and has a capacity of 7,500. Archibabble:

From the Sochi 2014 website: "The facility's location at the junction of two ridges was selected by international experts in order to make ski-jumping facilities harmonious with the surrounding landscape and to protect athletes from side winds." · All Olympics posts [Curbed National]
· Sochi 2014 [official site]