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Atlanta 1996


When the project was launched, the plan was for the Olympic Stadium to be built on the site of a car park adjacent to the city’s existing stadium. The purpose behind its construction was twofold: to serve as the main stadium during the Olympic Games, and then to become the home stadium of the local baseball team, the Atlanta Braves. The planned seating capacity was 85,000, with a temporary stand of 30,000 seats.

In early 1992, after more than 100 applications had been submitted, four architect firms were chosen to design the stadium. Their main mission was to comply with IOC and IAAF requirements while taking into consideration the specific needs of a professional baseball team. Experience in the field of stadium construction and understanding of the local market were essential points when it came to selecting the contractors. The building work lasted 30 months. Some of the facilities were temporary to allow for a smoother reconfiguration of the stadium after the Olympic Games.



The stadium was designed in the traditional style of American stadiums, with vertical façades on the outside and banked stands on the inside, above the athletics track. The stadium was divided into six levels with different functional areas. The service level included the athletes’ changing rooms and the VIP and athlete drop-off areas; the plaza level contained the best seats for spectators; the main level was similar but with a slightly less clear view; the press level was reserved for the written press and television reporters; and the club level offered access to 60 executive suites and various private bars. Finally, the upper level served the highest, and therefore least expensive, seating tier in the stadium.

The foundations of the stadium structure consisted of 2,650 bored piles installed in groups of four to twelve, with a reinforced concrete pile cap. Structural grade beams connected the pile caps, and a structural slab capable of HA loading was installed for the whole service level. Reinforced concrete columns went from the service level to the plaza level, and from the plaza level to the upper level. Structural steel and reinforced concrete completed the structure.



The design of the Olympic Stadium was unique owing to the criteria established by the management team of the Atlanta Braves, the future owners of the stadium; the space planning was conditioned by the needs of a baseball field. Traditional athletics stadium features were added subsequently and on a temporary basis, which explains the asymmetrical shape of the venue, particularly the elbow-style south-west corner. The seats in the stands were not arranged in the typical fashion around the athletic track, meaning that some of the spectators were further away from the action.

In order to connect the Olympic Stadium to the cauldron, sculptor Siah Armajani decided to build a 55-metre bridge linking the stadium to a tower. This 36m-high steel tower – designed to represent the “A” in Atlanta – allowed the flame to burn in a place where it could be seen by everyone while maintaining the connection with the Olympic Stadium.

I feel like I’m walking on water. The Tartan of Atlanta is my Sea of Galilee. It’s a wonderful feeling, a moment of sheer happiness. Marie-José Pérec French track & field athlete and triple Olympic champion.

The athletics track was removed and given to Clark Atlanta University. The field of play was remodelled to bring it into line with the requirements of a baseball field, and the number of seats was reduced to 49,714. In 1997, the local baseball team, the Braves, moved into the stadium, which was renamed Turner Field. In 2016, the stadium changed ownership again and became Georgia State Stadium, the home of the Georgia State University American football team.



- The temporary seats installed for the Olympic Games were removed and subsequently sold at auction following the event.
- Located at the north end of the Olympic Stadium, the Olympic cauldron became a public monument. - As part of a recycling initiative, a significant amount of the concrete obtained from the stadium renovation after the Games was re-used for local road repair works.
- The Olympic Stadium designers recruited more than 200 local high-school students to help decorate the building.


- 1996 Olympic Games: Press Handbook, Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games, 1996, p. 53.
- Catherine Samah, “Kit Stadium for Atlanta”, Architectures, no. 48, p. 456.
- Marie-José Pérec, Rien ne sert de courir, Grasset, Paris, 2008, p. 158.
- R. Larson and T. Staley, “Atlanta Olympics: The big story”, Stadia, Arenas and Grandstands: design, construction and operation: proceedings of the first international conference “stadia 2000”: Cardiff International Arena, Cardiff, Wales, 1-3 April 1998, chapitre 31, P. D. Thompson, J. J. A. Tolloczko et J. N. Clarke [ed.], Concrete Society [org.], E & FN Spon, 1998, pp. 279-283.
- The official report of the Centennial Olympic Games: Atlanta 1996, Peachtree publishers, Atlanta, 1997, vol. 1, pp. 2-3, 110, 116, 117, 161, 199, 202, 478, 500, 542, vol. 2, p. 313.

Name: Centennial Olympic Stadium, Turner Field (1996-2016); currently Georgia State Stadium
Location: 755 Hank Aaron Drive SE, Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Status: Built for the Games. In use today.
Designers: Heery International, Inc., Rosser Fabrap International, Inc., Williams-Russell & Johnson, Inc. and Ellerbe Becket, Inc. (architects)
Beers Construction, H.J Russell Construction and C.D Moody Construction (contractors)
Cost: 207 million US dollars
Capacity: 85,600 spectators
Dimensions: ~305m long and 208m wide
Additional information: Built on a 12-ha site located 1.5 kilometres from the centre of Atlanta; 55,000m3 of earth excavation, 65,000m3 of concrete, 8,500 tonnes of structural steel, 1,500m2 of masonry, 2,000m2 of metal roof decking, 19,312m of ramps, 7,059 light fixtures
Construction: 10 July 1993 to May 1996
Official opening: 18 May 1996
Events during the Games: Athletics (including the start and finish of the two marathons and the 10km, 20km and 50km race walks).
Opening and Closing Ceremonies.

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