Olympic sites: from wasteland to condo-land

1st Avenue, Olympic Village Site Looking North, Vancouver 2009

© Leslie Hossack


Habitat Island, Olympic Village Site Looking West, Vancouver 2009

© Leslie Hossack

The site of the 2010 Athletes’ Village in the heart of Vancouver and the main venue of the 2012 Olympics in East London have much in common. In particular, both projects involve the rejuvenation of largely forgotten urban areas. Yuri Artibise talks about the Olympic transformation of Vancouver’s Southeast False Creek from “wasteland to condo-land” in Spacing Vancouver.

My own love affair with the Olympics started in January 2008. When I walked past the 2010 Vancouver Olympic Village construction site, I was a goner. Photographing the 1936 Berlin Olympic Stadium and Athletes’ Village in 2010 sealed the deal. My next stop was London.

From that very first glance in 2008, I felt compelled to return to Southeast False Creek again and again to photograph the massive construction site of Vancouver’s 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. I also knew that I had to visit the London Olympic site to document its evolution from 2010 to 2012. I plan to return again in 2014 to explore the ongoing impact of the XXXth Olympiad on East London – a massive example of accelerated urban evolution.

To see my photographs of the 1936 Berlin Olympic Stadium and Athletes’ Village, please visit my website: lesliehossack.com. My images from the London Olympics will be posted here on Haute Vitrine in the future.