Campus Additions and Alterations due to the 1996 Olympics

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Margaret Hotle Section J1

This mural is found on the outside of the Student Center.

In preparation for the 1996 Summer Olympics, the city of Atlanta underwent a construction renaissance. New construction and upgrades extended throughout the city, including construction of shopping centers, improving Zoo Atlanta, adding Concourse E to Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, [1] and major construction on Georgia Tech's campus. Construction of the Aquatic Center, Alexander Memorial Coliseum, and seven new residence halls took place under President G. Wayne Clough. The Olympics left Georgia Tech's campus with badly needed buildings and state-of-the-art architecture.


Olympic Aquatic Center

Olympic Natatorium in use during the 1996 games.

Formerly known as the Callaway Student Athletic Complex, the Campus Recreation Center (CRC) owes many of its facilities to the 1996 Olympics. Georgia Tech hosted the swimming, water polo, synchronized swimming, and diving events of the 1996 games. Both the Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, Inc. (ACOG) and the state of Georgia funded the $16.8 million construction of a new aquatic center on campus. The new addition, more than doubling the size of the Callaway Student Athletic Complex, began in July 1994. It was completed in the summer of 1995. There were both permanent and temporary changes to campus' recreation area.

The existing outdoor pool on the south side of the building was converted into a warm-up pool with direct access to the new building. The existing asphalt track surrounding the grass fields on the building's north side was temporarily converted into a 500-gallon water polo pool with 4000 seats for spectators, athletes, and press. The S.A.C. parking lot became an area for catering and other tents. Finally, the existing turf fields to the north were temporarily converted to the spectator entry plaza, a huge area with restrooms and catering that lead to spectator seating to the competition swimming pool. The center of the project was the construction of a completely new athletic complex, which would house a brand new 50-meter swimming pool and diving pool, surrounded by 11,000 seats to the north and 4,000 seats to the south. [2].


The CRC is noted for its architecture.

Around February of 1994, Stanly Love-Stanley, PC, and Smallwood, Reynolds, Stewart, Stewart and Associates, Inc. drafted plans for the Olympic Natatorium. William J. Stanley III, one of the founders of Stanley Love-Stanley, PC, was actually the first black student to graduate from Georgia Tech's College of Architecture in 1972. Stanley has won numerous awards and has been hailed as one of the most socially aware architects of his time. [3]


The Campus Recreation Center is noted for its many technological achievements. It contains the world's largest suspended floor above a pool and diving well, which allows the depth of the pool to be altered. Its roof is constructed of thousands solar energy panels, called photovoltaic cells, which provide about 40% of the energy needed to power the entire building. The panels save Georgia Tech about $80,000 per year in energy bills. The 314-foot long ocean wave roof of the CRC, shaped like an airplane hanger, makes the CRC stand out architecturally. [4]


After the Olympics, the Committee planned to restore the asphalt track and grass fields and the S.A.C. parking lot to their original condition. Also, a landscape area was planned to exist between the artificial turf field and the grass field. The North Stands, containing 11,000 seats, that were constructed for the Olympics were demolished. The warm-up pool is currently a recreation pool with a water slide and a lazy river. Today, the old turf fields extend over the old grass fields and are some of the largest artificial turf fields in the Southeast. All Olympic construction on Tech's campus was donated back to the Georgia Institute of Technology. The CRC reached its one millionth non-Olympic visitor in the middle of 2006 and has an average of 50,000 visits from students and locals each month.


Since its grand opening, the CRC's architecture has won many notable awards, including:

  • Design-Build Institute of America's National Award of Excellence
  • Overall Best Construction Management Association of America's 2005 Public Project less than $50,000,000
  • Building Design & Construction Magazine's Gold Award Winner
  • Winner of the 2005 Innovative Architecture & Design competition by Recreation Management


325 acres of Georgia Tech's campus were set aside to be part of the Olympic and Paralympic Village, the area where athletes live during the Olympic games. Construction took place between 1994 and September of 1995. The Olympic Village consisted of brand new and recently renovated apartment-style buildings. It housed 10,800 Paralympic and Olympic athletes and coaches. Nearly half of them lived on Georgia Tech's campus. The rest lived in Georgia State University's housing. Olympic construction provided Georgia Tech with badly needed additional housing for its students. Before the Olympics, Georgia Tech could only provide housing for less than 35% of its students. After construction for the Olympics, Georgia Tech was able to give about 65% of its students housing. The ACOG contributed $27 million to housing construction, leaving approximately $93 million for Georgia Tech to pay over the next 20 years through student housing fees. [5] Georgia Tech housing projects included:

  • Hemphill Avenue Apartments: 654 beds, estimated $11.1 million construction
  • Eighth Street Apartments: 1,300 beds, estimated $22.9 million construction
  • Undergraduate Living Center: 854 beds, estimated $12.4 million construction (opened in 1993 and already occupied prior to the games)
  • Sixth Street Apartments: 958 beds, estimated $15.9 million construction
  • Center Street Apartments: 704 beds, estimated $11.6 million construction
  • Graduate Living Center: 696 beds, estimated $7.8 million construction (opened in 1993 and occupied prior to the games) (Olympians and their families lived here)
  • Fourth Street Houses: 192 beds, estimated $3.5 million construction[6]

Alexander Memorial Coliseum

In addition to aquatic events, Georgia Tech also hosted semi-final boxing rounds during the 1996 Olympics. In preparation for the Olympics, approximately $10 million worth of construction was completed on the Alexander Memorial Coliseum. Air conditioning, along with wheelchair access to the stands, were installed in the Coliseum. Construction took place between Spring 1995 and November 1995. [7]

Campus Monument

The Campanile at night

In recognition of the Olympics, Georgia Tech's classes of 1943 and 1953 donated $3 million to construct a fountain, called the Kessler Campanile, and surrounding amphitheater, which is located beside the Student Center. Richard Kessler, an alumnis of Georgia Tech and the former head of Days Inn, provided additional funding for the Kessler Campanile. Richard Hill and Vic Williams designed the 80-foot tall stainless steel structure to be an updated, more artistic version of Tech Tower. The Campanile is currently used as a gathering place on Georgia Tech's campus. [8]


As a result of the hundreds of thousands of people visiting Georgia Tech's campus for the Olympics, the campus suffered minor damage. Potholes and cracks in the sidewalks were common, along with dead spots in grassy areas. Bricks on the Prince Gilbert Memorial Library and the area around the Student Center especially were damaged. Fences surrounding certain buildings, such as the Graduate Living Center (where Olympians were housed), were found on the ground. Also, benches outside of Skiles Walkway were left damaged. [9] [10]


  1. "A New Look: Olympic Renaissance." Atlanta Journal Constitution 21 Aug. 1994. Print.
  2. Georgia Tech Student Center Records (VAO300 7L, Folder 1). Archives, Library and Information Center. Georgia Institute of Technology.
  3. Accessed October 2 2010
  4. "Monument Erected to Perseverance." Atlanta Journal Constitution 1 Aug. 1995. Print.
  5. Clough, G. Wayne. "Operation Legacy Speech." Georgia Institute of Technology. 2 May 1996.
  6. "Raising Olympic Atlanta: the Village." Atlanta Journal Constitution 29 Jan. 1995. Print.
  7. "A New Look: Olympic Renaissance." Atlanta Journal Constitution 21 Aug. 1994. Print.
  8. Clough, G. Wayne. "Memphis Georgia Tech Club Speech." Georgia Institute of Technology. 1996.
  9. Source Summary: Damage to Campus Buildings and Benches during Olympic Games
  10. Source Summary: Damage to Streets and Sidewalks during the Olympic Games
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