Set to open in the Fall of 2020, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Museum will document the history of the United States Olympic and Paralympic participation, and celebrate the achievements of Team USA’s competitors. Located in southwest downtown Colorado Springs, CO - known as Olympic City USA — construction on the project began in June of 2017 on a 1.7-acre site. The 60,000 square-foot building was designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, which is notable for the 10,000 diamond-shaped panels that will adorn its exterior as well as for the goal to be one of the most accessible buildings in the world. Announced yesterday, the identity for the museum has been designed by New York, NY-based Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv.
The visual identity for the new Museum takes its colors from the Olympic rings, its stripes from the American flag, and the diamond silhouette from the building’s façade. Together the symbol suggests an abstract flame. While alluding to these familiar elements, the design is a completely original image, giving this major new institution its own independent identity. The dynamic, colorful symbol is balanced by a refined, elegant wordmark, stacked to give equal weight to each important element of the name.
“In my mind, I was envisioning that if there were three flag poles in front of the Museum, with the Olympic rings on one flag and the Paralympic agitos on another, what would I want on the Museum’s flag in between them?” Museum Chief Executive Officer Christopher Liedel said. “We wanted to embrace the movement of athletes, embrace the rings, embrace the agitos and embrace the Museum’s architecture.”
This was a very difficult challenge with three strong “forces” needing to be portrayed in the logo: The Olympics, the Paralympics, and USA. In a way, I am surprised how little it feels like a U-S-A! U-S-A! logo, which is a good thing for the most part as it shifts the focus to the Olympics and it avoids looking like a government entity or political candidate. You could argue it’s a bad thing because this could easily be the logo for a museum like this for any country or even as the official museum of the International Olympic Committee — still, it’s for the better. The new icon is a wonderful exercise in simplicity, taking the well-known Olympic rings and transforming them into something new and iconic on its own. When paired with the extra long name, typeset and stacked in a light and elegant sans serif, the logo does look like a flame — it loses some of that effectiveness when the logo is locked-up horizontally as seen on the museum’s website.
While most of the applications below are the logo-on-things, some of the above applications are far more interesting, especially the ones with the hand-drawn elements (like the second set of posters and the logo animation) that add a human touch and warmth to the starkness of the logo. I would love for that to be the driving premise for the applications where it doesn’t always have to be the same illustrations over and over but always find a way to capture the human-ness of the Olympics. I could also get behind the visuals of the first set of posters with the repeating silhouetted image in the five colors — that’s kind of bitchin’.
I can also see the benefit of the more “corporate” look of the brochures and last set of posters that use big, bold diagonals, as applications for more institutional materials (as opposed to public-facing materials).
As with most Chermayeff & Geismar & Haviv projects, what this logo does well is that it can live on everything and anything — I’m really digging that duffel bag for some reason — allowing the museum to implement it and deploy it easily on the myriad elements, objects, and spaces of the museum. Overall, this has a kind of heroic simplicity that commendably avoids a bombastic personality and honors the efforts of the athletes and the long-standing history of the Olympics and Paralympics.