Fisht Stadium in Sochi: 2014 Winter Olympics

Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, one of the 11 buildings purposely constructed for these Games. It’s an interesting structure because it is the first of its kind in Russia and it will only be used for the opening and closing ceremonies during the Winter Games and the Paralympics: none of the actual sporting events are taking place there.

Populous is the American architecture firm selected to create this building. At the forefront of sport stadium design, Populous is especially known for their retractable roof sports facilities all over the world.

The stadium is situated to allow Olympic Park spectators to see both the Caucasus Mountains and the Black Sea simultaneously. Named after Mount Fisht, the building was designed to blend into the surrounding natural landscape. It can seat up to 40,000 people and is considered an example of “best practice” in accessibility for people with disabilities.

Where to begin to describe it? A Fabergé egg, an iconic Russian symbol, was the inspiration for the overall design.

It’s an open-air stadium with an enormous bifurcated, transparent and retractable roof made of polycarbonate and transparent plastic air-filled cushions. At night, white and coloured lights can be projected through the roof for a spectacular effect.

(Here’s where I just have to stop and put in a word for polycarbonate, the darling of the construction industry—it’s a durable synthetic resin material with high impact-resistance. It’s transparent with even better light transmission than many kinds of glass.)

Depending on your angle, the time of day you see it and whether or not lighting effects are being used, the building takes on a multitude of appearances-- an egg, a chrysalis, a beetle, even a space ship.

As for its future…after the Games, Russia’s national soccer team will train and play there and it will host matches during the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

It’s become a well-known fact that Sochi’s 2014 Winter Olympics are the most expensive Games ever. So maybe it’s fitting that the Fisht Stadium is commemorated on a 100 rubles banknote!