The grace and power of equestrian events at this summer’s Olympic games in London will be showcased in a venue designed by Charlie Kolarik ’04, a Texas A&M Master of Architecture graduate.
Kolarik, a senior equestrian architect at Populous, a global architecture, design practice and master planning consultancy, was part of a team that designed the first overlay, or temporary, equestrian venue in Olympic history at London’s 183-acre Greenwich Park,
The 26,000 seat main arena, touted by Populous as the largest temporary stadium ever built, will stand south of the park’s historic Queen's House and host dressage, show jumping, and elements of the modern pentathlon competition.
“Our 2012 venue will set new standards delivering equestrian sports to the public with an unforgettable experience and environmental sensitivity,” said Kolarik, who works at Populous’ Norman, Okla. equestrian design studio, which provides services to the global equestrian industry.
Kolarik focuses on permanent and temporary equestrian sporting venues, collegiate equestrian team and equine science facilities, horse parks, polo clubs, and high-end private horse farms.
“My passion for equestrian and farm design stems from a long heritage of farming and ranching,” he said. “At Populous we have the experience and global resources to continuously set higher standards for equestrian facility design worldwide.”
Kolarik has been involved in facility programming, master planning, design, and facility evaluations for more than 50 equestrian projects around the world, including the Anheuser-Busch Clydesdale Breeding Farm in Missouri, as well as Kentucky Horse Park, the Calgary Stampede, the Abu Dhabi Racecourse and Equestrian Club, the Egyptian International Equestrian Centre in Cairo and the Presidential Polo Club in Moscow.
No trees were felled to accommodate the Greenwich Park Olympic venue. Sensitive ecological and archaeological areas, even root zones, were protected in the design. Along with stabling and training areas, the venue will include extensive grooming and veterinary facilities, a commissary, team lounge and media facilities.
Venue construction began April 2; competition is scheduled to begin July 28. The London Olympic committee, said The Royal Parks’ website, is tasked with protecting and conserving Greenrich Park and ensuring that, following the equestrian events, the park is returned to its pre-Games condition or better after dismantling and removing the venue’s structures.
The overlay concept is part of the London Olympic committee’s strategy to emphasize the use of temporary and existing venues for the event’s 38 sports, with an emphasis on London as the backdrop of the games.
“This means ensuring wherever we can that either the historic buildings at venues like Greenwich Park, and/or the iconic London skyline, remain in sight for spectators whilst creating an intimate atmosphere for the athletes,” said Populous principal Jeff Keas. “Together with the London Olympic committee and our partners, we want to ensure the overlay facilities are more than functional, that they help to leave a lasting impression on how people experience and perceive the London 2012 Games.”