Citius, Altius, Fortius

by Leslie Hossack

Three months from today, on the 27th of July, the opening ceremony of the 2012 London Olympic Games will mark the beginning of the XXXth Olympiad.

But my love affair with the Olympics started over four years ago, in January 2008. I walked past the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Village construction project, and I was a goner.

Southeast False Creek, Seen from Cambie Bridge, Vancouver 2008

© Leslie Hossack

Olympic Village Site, Seen from Science World, Vancouver 2008

© Leslie Hossack

I was captivated by the vision of a dozen tower cranes moving gracefully together. Sometimes they reminded me of a finely tuned orchestra; sometimes they looked like a beautifully choreographed ballet. From that very first glance, I felt compelled to return to Southeast False Creek again and again to photograph the massive construction site of the Vancouver Athletes’ Village.

I knew from the beginning that I had to document the area over a four-year period: 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011. It was a rare opportunity to witness the construction of a village, and the creation of a community, from the ground up.

And this was no ordinary community. Normally, we create purpose-built structures; we build a condo to be a condo. But this was different; this was the construction of a group of buildings to serve as a transient Athletes’ Village and, subsequently, an ongoing urban community.

Initially, the village on Vancouver’s Southeast False Creek would be one of the world’s most exclusive gated communities. It would be home to elite athletes from around the globe in the winter of 2010. The Olympic motto Citius, Altius, Fortius means: “Faster, Higher, Stronger.” I often thought that this motto applied not only to the athletes, but also to the construction of the village. It was a fascinating example of project management and coordination.

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