Four Olympic Stadiums With Unexpected Afterlives

We often read about the huge buildings constructed for Olympic games that fall into ruin afterward, abandoned, forgotten, or demolished. They were constructed with big plans for a second life after the Games that never worked out. But there are exceptions. A few cities have found creative uses for Olympic structures that worked out well, even though some have undergone massive renovation or even changed uses more than once. That beautiful Water Cube built for the Beijing Olympics? It's still in business.

Built for the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, the National Aquatics Center (more commonly known as the Water Cube) held synchronized swimming, diving, water polo and other swimming events. Michael Phelps fans—this is where he earned his eight gold medals, and where 24 other world records were set. The building was renovated after the Olympics, and half of it is now Asia’s largest waterpark, called Happy Magic Water Cube. There are 13 waterslides, a lazy river, a wave pool and a spa. The second floor of the building has an auditorium with 17,000 seats. There’s also a theater, several restaurants and bars and a museum of Olympic history. The Olympics will be back in Beijing in 2022, and the Cube is slated for use in the curling tournaments.

Other structures found new life as a prison, a church, and an entertainment center. One was used for a different sport in another Olympics! Read about them at Smithsonian.

(Image credit: Flickr user llee_wu)


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