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Queens Chronicle

And Then There Were Five: Olympic Village Designs Unveiled

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Posted: Thursday, March 18, 2004 12:00 am

The five finalists for the Olympic Village design competition announced last week—including one architect from New York—will have to ultimately win the approval of the NYC2012 committee in May, but for now, the plans are getting a thumbs-up in the court of public opinion.

“All of them are nice, they’re all good,” said S. Green, a messenger working in Long Island City. “It’s something different, it’s something new. I’d choose all of them. I couldn’t say no to any of these.”

Green’s ringing endorsements for all of the designs may strike some as indecisive, but the architects might just see that as being validation for why they were chosen as the five finalists: They all brought something unique to the table.

“It’s time for something new, something fresh,” Green said. “It’s like in music, you always want to hear something you haven’t heard before.”

The architects know that despite Green’s blanket endorsements, just like the summer Olympic events themselves, this design competition will have only one winner. No one will remember who came in second or third, either.

The finalists, as announced last week by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall and NYC2012 representatives, are: Henning Larsens Tegnestue (HLT) from Denmark; Morphosis from Santa Monica, CA; MVRD from the Netherlands; Zaha Hadid Architects from London and Smith-Miller +Hawkinson Architects from New York.

The Olympic Village will be constructed in the Hunters Point neighborhood in Long Island City, overlooking the waterfront. The architects have made a concerted effort to mesh the natural New York City habitat of urban terrain with the natural habitat of, well, nature.

Three of the designs are nameless, while two have been dubbed “New Park: the Green Machine” (Smith-Miller + Hawkinson) and “Weaving” Village on the Beach (MVRDV). The designs will be on display at Vanderbilt Hall in Grand Central Terminal through next week.

Like Green, Neagua Ariana, 49, a Maspeth resident who was waiting for a bus in Long Island City on Tuesday, had a hard time choosing which design she liked the best. In the end, she said she would choose between Denmark’s HLT design, characterized by its three futuristic-looking spiral towers, and the Netherlands’ MVRDV model, which transforms the East River waterfront into a beach and cityscape.

“They’re beautiful, they look good for New York,” said Ariana, a native of Romania who moved to New York City 12 years ago.

Bloomberg believes that the Olympic Village would “transform what is now a largely abandoned and blighted stretch of the East River waterfront in Queens into a stunning residential community.”

The mayor added, “Designing the Olympic Village is a breathtaking project, and Queens will provide a spectacular home away from home for the world’s greatest athletes.”

The village is set to become residential condominiums after the Olympic games in 2012, assuming New York City is chosen to host the event. The host city will be selected on July 6, 2005.

Marshall urged the public to direct comments about the designs to the NYC2012 committee. She also gave glowing reviews to the five finalists, saying that they “uphold the true spirit of the Olympic movement, while forming the model for future urban housing.”

For a look at all the designs selected as finalists, log onto www.nyc2012.com. The public can also send comments through the Web site.

Welcome to the discussion.