The Marina del Rey office of Cuningham Group Architecture has learned that if you design it, they will come. Eventually.
Seven years ago, a team of architects drew up plans for an Olympic Village for South Korea to use in its bid for the 2014 Winter Olympics. Even though that bid failed, South Korea built the village anyway. Then last month, the country was named host of the 2018 Winter Olympics. The village will be the Games’ official home.
It all started in 2004, when the South Korean government hired Cuningham, based in Minneapolis, to design the Olympic Village that would be submitted as part of its bid. Russia won that bid, but South Korea built the village to boost its chances for future Games.
The village, Alpensia, is a $1.4 billion resort that features a ski jump, cross-country ski trail and a biathlon track in mountains two hours by car from Seoul. The resort also includes 700 villa-style residences, an indoor water park, live broadcasting stations and three hotels with a total of more than 1,000 rooms.
Now that South Korea will host the Games in 2018, Alpensia will serve its intended purpose.
“It was just four years late,” joked Jim Schiedel, a Cuningham principal in Marina del Rey who headed the project. “Sometimes it takes a while for victory. We’re honored to have been part of this.”
Cuningham has 180 employees, with about 35 in Marina del Rey. The firm has designed casinos, hotels, convention centers and restaurants. But this is the only Olympic Village it has designed. It is likely to be the only one.
“That’s not really our focus,” he said. “It’s an unusual business to be in.”
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