The NCSU LAR Lecture Series Presents Bill Hanway on “Olympic Design”


In a public forum on the NCSU Landscape Architecture Lecture Series on Thursday, February 21, 2013, urban designer and vice president of building and planning in the Americas for AECOM, Mr. Bill Hanway addressed the NCSU landscape architecture and architecture departments with a lecture on his firm’s designed environment for the 2012 London Olympic Games. Mr. Hanway summarized the design process through nine salient points: research, strategic content, establishing key principles, messaging, regeneration, defining principles, legacy, clarity of process, and enjoyment.

Hanway charted the iterative progression of these nine points through theory, development, and implementation in both design and construction—clarifying the process in detail using photographs, diagrams and illustrations. Hanway stressed the importance of researching the successes and failures of prior Olympic games, noting that although may previous Olympic games’ environmental designs may have been characteristically “successful” in real time, in legacy, many must now be regarded as failures. AECOM purportedly aspired to “do better with London” by asking the right question: “How can good design for a single, powerful event be a ‘primary driver for a legacy plan’ ”? In other words, how can the land be protected for return on investment? How can a designed environment for such a singular, temporal event segue to lasting regeneration? How can it provide new schools and new homes, how can it promote healthy lifestyles, and how can master planning accommodate not only the program but also the legacy?

Hanway concluded with ruminations on the application of AECOM’s accumulated experience in undertaking the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympic games design, for which AECOM is contracted, and noted important differences between the design needs of the London games and the Rio de Janeiro games (the rapidly changing Brazilian economy and the astonishing physical beauty of Rio de Janeiro among them). Hanway mentioned that in moving forward with Olympic master planning in Rio de Janeiro, AECOM will focus on the pride of the Brazilian people, the growth of the Brazilian economy, and the future of vibrant Rio de Janeiro.

—Paul D. Sayre