Stade Olympique – Montréal, Québec


Infamous for its cost overruns, “The Big O” (or, less generously, “The Big Owe”) is also a terrifically striking landmark, holding its own against such noteworthy company as Frei Otto’s 1972 Munich Olympic Stadium and Herzog & de Meuron’s 2008 Beijing National Stadium (the “Bird’s Nest”). French architect Roger Taillibert designed the stadium at the personal behest of Montréal mayor Jean Drapeau, who refused to permit any cost-saving measures to restrict his artist’s conception. Ultimately, the stadium cost $CAN700 million to construct, more than 10 times Taillibert’s original estimate. The tower and the retractable roof it supports were not completed until 1987, and in the end, the roof never operated as intended. Still, the building’s sweeping skeletal forms and the dramatic cantilever of the 170 metre (560 foot) tower create a stadium experience unlike any other. The venue was host to a variety of events at the 1976 Olympic Games, including the opening and closing ceremonies, athletics, and football.

Given the recent spate of stadium demolition across North America, perhaps Taillibert’s grandiose gesture is proving to have lasting value. At the time, it was noted that Kingdome in Seattle, which has a similar capacity and was also completed in 1976, only cost $CAN60 million to construct: the Kingdome, of course, was torn down in 2000. As Taillibert immodestly put it: “When you look at the Eiffel Tower, what remains to think about? The honorarium Eiffel received, or the structure he created?”

-Jesse Jackson

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