The International Olympic Committee (IOC) today officially opened Olympic House – one of the most sustainable buildings in the world. The inauguration was the highlight of the very emblematic and emotional celebrations to mark the 125th anniversary of the IOC, which was founded on 23 June 1894 by Pierre de Coubertin.
The ceremony was attended by 700 guests, including the AIMS President representing the AIMS family, Mr Stephan Fox, President of the Swiss Confederation, Ueli Maurer; the IOC Members; the Presidents of the 206 National Olympic Committees and the International Sports Federations; and more than 30 Olympic medallists who, together with the Olympic medallists amongst the IOC Members, have won more than 125 medals at the Olympic Games.
For the traditional ribbon-cutting at the foot of the iconic unity staircase of Olympic House, IOC President Bach was joined by President Ueli Maurer, the IOC Executive Board members, the President of the Vaud Council of State, Nuria Gorrite; Council of State members Pascal Broulis and Philippe Leuba; the Mayor of Lausanne, Grégoire Junod; and a number of Olympic medallists.
Designed to reflect the IOC’s overarching mission to make the world a better place through sport and the reforms of Olympic Agenda 2020, Olympic House brings together the IOC staff – 500 employees previously spread across Lausanne in four locations – under one roof. It is an investment by the IOC in sustainability, one of the three pillars of Olympic Agenda 2020.
“When we set out on this project to construct a new home, we wanted it to be more than just another office building. Of course, we wanted to bring together everyone, the Olympic family and all IOC staff, under one roof. In this sense, Olympic House is an expression of our unity,” President Bach said in his speech. “At the same time, we wanted Olympic House to incorporate the elements of sustainability, credibility and youth – the same three pillars of Olympic Agenda 2020. The building reflects these three elements that are so central to our mission,” he added.
Addressing the audience, President Ueli Maurer said: “When Pierre de Coubertin campaigned for the revival of the Olympic Games, he wanted to contribute to peace and international understanding. I thank you for looking after this important legacy! Sport has an integrating effect within our society. It connects young and old, women and men, different social classes, religions and political beliefs. And in some cases sport is also a chance for political understanding and cooperation across borders or differences”, President Maurer concluded.
Today’s inauguration is the culmination of a journey that started back in 2012 when the IOC decided to move ahead with the consolidation of its head office. Developed by Danish architecture firm 3XN, Olympic House has been designed around the five key elements of symbolism, integration, flexibility, collaboration and sustainability. Selected by the IOC in April 2014, 3XN partnered with Swiss architects Itten Brechbühl to oversee the construction of the building. The result is a building that authentically reflects Olympism, the Olympic Movement and the role of the IOC as a catalyst for collaboration in an iconic form.
With its shape inspired by the movement of an athlete, Olympic House combines the highest standards in architectural design with a holistic approach to sustainability. It incorporates rigorous criteria in energy and water efficiency, while optimising the health and wellbeing of its users. Pushing sustainability boundaries, Olympic House has recently received the most rigorous international and local sustainability certifications, a demonstration of the IOC’s commitment to walk the talk and lead by example.
“Olympic House takes sustainability to the next level. The building has been constructed according to the highest sustainability standards in every way,” commented President Bach. “We are happy and proud of the recognition that we have received, confirming that Olympic House is one of the most sustainable buildings in the world.”
Mahesh Ramanujam, US Green Building Council President commented:“LEED buildings are about leadership, but when you try to attempt platinum you are going for extraordinary leadership, you are trying to define what’s possible. So to me LEED Version Platinum by Olympic House is about thinking about our children, thinking about our future generations and importantly, leaving the world in a better place than we all inherited it from’.”
With this new building, the IOC also confirms its attachment to Lausanne, the Olympic Capital. Developed in close consultation with the local authorities, Olympic House offers the region an emblematic architectural landmark and becomes an important element of the local Louis Bourget public park, which welcomes a diverse group of visitors every year.
Addressing the Olympians attending the ceremony, President Bach, himself an Olympic champion in fencing, said: “By bringing the entire world together in peaceful competition, the Olympic Games are a symbol of hope and peace for all humankind. The ones who embody this message are the Olympic athletes. This is why we have among us today Olympic athletes who represent over 125 Olympic medals. They gave the Olympic Games the magic moments that have defined us for 125 years. Therefore, I say to all my fellow Olympians: welcome home.”
In attendance were Olympic legends such as Ole Einar Bjoerndalen, the Norwegian biathlete who has claimed 13 Olympic medals, and Olympic champions Tina Maze (Slovenia), Santiago Lange (Argentina), Osea Kolinisau (Fiji) and Yuna Kim (Republic of Korea), to name but a few. They were joined by Yusra Mardini and Yonas Kinde, who both were part of the IOC Refugee Olympic Team Rio 2016.
The IOC President continued: “To my dear friends and colleagues, the IOC Members; to the 206 National Olympic Committees; and to the International Sport Federations; to all of you, the Olympic family gathered here today I say: welcome home.”
The ceremony, which combined artistic performances with personal stories and testimonials, was also a moment to look back at the 125 years of the IOC’s history and pay tribute to Pierre de Coubertin, but also to look to the future of the Olympic Movement.
“On this very day, 125 years ago on 23 June 1894, Pierre de Coubertin founded the IOC and revived the Olympic Games. He saw this as a way to promote peace among nations and people. He was a visionary when he said: ‘Should the institution of the Olympic Games prosper, it can become a potent factor in securing universal peace,’” President Bach explained. “Today, 125 years later, his dream lives on. At this important milestone, we can be proud to carry his legacy into the future,” Bach concluded.
The International Olympic Committee is a not-for-profit independent international organisation made up of volunteers, which is committed to building a better world through sport. It redistributes more than 90 per cent of its income to the wider sporting movement, which means that every day the equivalent of 3.4 million US dollars goes to help athletes and sports organisations at all levels around the world.