Inside Olympic House, the Olympics’s Exceptional New HQ That Seamlessly Blends Into the Environment

by Kathy Hereford, June 18, 2019



When viewed from below, the staircases appear as though they are interlocking circles—a nod to the Olympic rings.

© 2019 / International Olympic Committee (IOC) / 3XN / IttenBrechbühl / MØRK, Adam – All rights reserved.


a spiral staircase


The staircase is appropriately named the Unity Staircase.

© 2019 / International Olympic Committee (IOC) / 3XN / IttenBrechbühl / MØRK, Adam – All rights reserved.

Multifunctional use and adaptability were key concerns when designing the headquarters. With just 14 columns, each 15 centimeters in diameter, the space is extremely flexible, with movable partitions that allow for ample customization. “I fought, column by column, to have as few of them in the building as possible,” explains Marie Sallois, director of corporate development, brand, and sustainability at the IOC. “I am not an architect or an engineer. I had no clue how this usually works, so I could challenge people to think outside of the box and ask the questions that no one asks because they’re used to a certain way of working.”

That curiosity and knack for thinking differently is what led the team to go after obtaining some of the most rigorous sustainability certifications, both locally and internationally. Today, Olympic House is the most sustainable modern building in all of Switzerland, and one of the most sustainable structures in the world, with three different types of certification. With solar panels on the roof that bring in 10% of the building’s electricity, a cooling and heating system that draws water from the nearby lake through a tube, a double-façade window system, a wealth of natural light that pours in from skylights above, and environmental controls that allow individual users to customize the temperature and lighting in their immediate workspace, the team’s commitment to the environment is no small feat—even the furniture is sustainable. “Most of the furniture we looked at did not meet the rigorous standards needed for the certification we were seeking. When you want to go to that level, you need to push the market to find solutions,” she explains.

Source: Architectural Digest | Live Learn Nona Blog | Lake Nona Real Estate