The London Aquatics Centre by Zaha Hadid.
The Summer 2012 Olympics are off to a smashing start, especially in terms of design. Every other year I watch the games with bated breath, as much for the astonishing feats of engineering and style as for the athletics. Check out some of London 2012's design hits so far…
The Sporting Venues
Living in London, it's been especially interesting for me to see the Olympic Park grow from the industrial wasteland of that part of East London. The area is now home to wonderful pieces of modern architecture; Zaha Hadid's undulating Aquatics Centre wins my vote for most beautiful venue, but the Velodrome by Hopkins Architects and Magma Architecture's Shooting Centre are equally inspiring.
The Athlete's Village
Home to 17,000 athletes during the games, the Athletes' Village will really come into its own after the Olympics end. They'll be adapted and 2,400 new homes will be created here, great news for London's housing crisis. I particularly like how the different blocks, designed by various architectural firms, relate to each other but have their own identities, as well.
The Parade of Nations
I can't be the only one who loves watching the opening ceremony's Parade of Nations for the style, can I? It's like an international fashion show, except the models are healthy and smiling. India, Belgium and The Netherlands were my favorites this time around, as well as the face-covered dresses worn by the sign-holders.
The BBC has an interesting page on medal design, featuring images of every Olympic medal to date. This year's are the largest so far, and feature a traditional Greek goddess on one side, and the modern (some might say jarringly so) London 2012 logo on the back.
Last but certainly not least, Thomas Heatherwick's stunning Olympic Cauldron seems to be on everyone's lips these days. Made of 204 individual copper petals (brought into the stadium by, and to be returned to, each competing nation), it was transformed into a flaming bouquet before the world's eyes.
(Images: 1,2. ArchDaily 3. Dezeen 4. Dezeen 5. ING Media 6. UPI.com 7. BBC News 8. Architect's Journal)