Friday, May 21, 2010

Iconic stadium gets a facelift

HELSINKI. It’s a classic stadium and one of the landmarks of this pleasant city. Now the Helsinki Olympic Stadium, used for the 1952 Summer Games, is getting a facelift to keep it up to date as a sports venue and preserve it as a symbol of elegant Finnish design.
Helsinki is beginning preparations for what might be the city’s biggest event since the Olympics when it becomes the World Design Capital in 2012. The Finnish capital has gone through a remarkable development since the gloomy days of the deep economic crisis of the early 1990s.
I just got back from a trip to Helsinki. Beginning next week, I will write a series of reports on how design has become a driving force in the development of the new Helsinki.
The Olympic Stadium is a must for every visitor to Helsinki. The stadium was originally built to host the 1940 Olympics, games that were never held due to World War II. It was designed by Finnish architects Yrjö Lindegren and Toivo Jäntti in a sleek, functionalistic style.
The 72-metre tower (above) ha become the symbol of the stadium. From the top of the tower visitors get a nice view of the city.
The Olympic Stadium has hosted two World Championships in athletics (track & field), in 1983 and 2005. This being a national sport of Finland, it’s only natural that a statue of former running giant Paavo Nurmi stands outside the stadium.
Right now the stadium is a bit of a construction site, as a new football pitch and a new running track are laid out. Later this year the tower will be renovated. The stadium will be back in use in August with a two-night concert with rock giants U2.
Helsinki is already full of old style posters advertising another milestone event that will take place in the stadium in February 2011, when the two local ice hockey clubs Jokerit and HIFK will meet in an outdoor game in front a of an expected capacity crowd of over 40,000 spectators.


Running giant Paavo Nurmi in front of the classic Olympic Stadium.