United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum



The U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum

The 60,000 sf United States Olympic & Paralympic Museum in Colorado Springs features 20,000 sf of galleries, a state-of-the-art theater, event space and café. Inspired by the energy and grace of Team USA athletes and the organization’s inclusive values, the building’s dynamic spiraling form allows visitors to descend the galleries in one common path. This main organization structure ensures that from entrance to exit, visitors of all abilities can tour the facility together in a shared experience. From the earliest stages of design, the team consulted Team USA athletes, including Paralympic athletes and persons with disabilities, to ensure the most authentic and inclusive experience. Today, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Museum is considered one of the most accessible museums in the world, and most recently received the 2020 Grand Award from the International Association for Universal Design, who noted the museum “embodies so completely the principles of inclusive design by treating all visitors as equal while providing for individual needs in a seamless and elegant whole.”


A terraced hardscape plaza is at the heart of the museum complex, cradled by the museum building to the south and the café to the north. The plaza frames a postcard view of Pikes Peak and the Rocky Mountains beyond. With integrated amphitheater seating, the plaza is able to host outdoor events throughout the seasons, from the winter games through the summer games.


The façade consists of over 9,000 folded anodized diamond shaped aluminum panels, each unique in shape and size. The taut skin wraps four overlapping petal-like volumes that spiral around the internal structure. Each metallic panel is animated by the extraordinary light quality in Colorado Springs, producing gradients of color and shade that give the building another sense of motion and dynamism.


From the earliest stages of design, the team consulted a committee of Paralympic athletes and persons with disabilities to ensure that, from entrance to exit, visitors of all abilities could tour the USOPM facility together and share a common path. After they have been oriented, all visitors ascend to the top floor by elevator. Ramps guide visitors down a gentle-grade downhill circulation path that enables easier movement. Ramps have been widened to 6 feet to accommodate the side-by-side movement of two visitors including a wheelchair. Beyond ensuring all code and ADA requirements were rigorously met, material details including glass guardrails in the atrium for low-height visibility, cane guards integrated into benches, smooth floors for easier wheel chair movement, and loose seating in the café optimize the shared experience.


DS+R designed 20,000 sf of gallery space as overlapping petals that wrap around the central atrium. Clerestory lighting at the seams between these petals provides a soft daylight emanating from the central atrium space, terminating at vertical windows at the building’s perimeter. This lighting strategy doubles as wayfinding, orienting visitors back to the atrium, and situating them along a trajectory that moves through the galleries, which feature immersive interactive exhibitions designed by Gallagher Associates.

Park Union Bridge

Designed by the same team as the adjacent U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum complex, the Park Union Bridge is a 250-foot curved steel structure that floats above an active railyard. Two interlocked loops, stretching from either side of the railyard, connect the museum and America the Beautiful Park. The bridge is an exercise in fitness - both in terms of material and geometry. The hybrid steel structure system functions as an arch and a truss, preserving views from Downtown to the majestic mountain ranges of Pikes Peak.

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Project information
Size (GSF)60000LocationColorado Springs, United States
groundbreakingJune 2017Commission2014opening30th July 2020
PartnersBenjamin Gilmartin,Elizabeth Diller,Charles Renfro,and Ricardo Scofidio
Project ArchitectHolly Deichmann
Project Architect, Concept DesignSean Gallagher
Project DesignerYushiro Okamoto
TeamAnthony Saby,Merica May Jensen,Ryan Botts,Charles Curran,Imani Day,Roberto Mancinelli,Rasmus Tobiasen,Ning Hiransaroj,Andreas Kostopoulos,Dino Kiratzidis,Emily Vo Nguyen,Jack Solomon,Valeri Limansubroto,and Sanny Ng
External credits
Anderson Mason Dale ArchitectsArchitect of Record
Gallagher & AssociatesExhibition Designers
Barrie ProjectsMuseum & Content Development
KL&A Inc. in collaboration with ArupStructural Engineer
Kiowa Engineering CorporationCivil Engineer
Jensen HughesFire Engineer
The Ballard GroupMechanical & Plumbing Engineer
ME EngineersElectrical Engineer
ArupAcoustics, Audio/Visual, Theater
Ileana RodriguezAccessibility
Tillotson Design AssociatesLighting
NES, Inc. in collaboration with Hargreaves JonesLandscape Architect
Advanced Consulting EngineersCode
Iros Elevator Design ServicesVertical Circulation
Dharam ConsultingCost Estimating
IconergyEnergy Modeling
Heitmann & AssociatesExterior Energy Consultant
MG McGrathFacade Fabrication
GE JohnsonConstruction Manager and General Contractor
    Photography by Jason O'Rear,Nic Lehoux,and Iwan Baan