Though not nearly as ostentatious as the buildings from the Beijing 2008 Olympics, the stadiums and arenas for the London 2012 Olympics are still quite lovely. Here are the best buildings you'll probably see over and over again for the next few weeks.
A lot of the focus for the buildings of the London Olympics was to pare down on excess and build stadiums and arenas with recyclable materials and green principles. Many of the buildings are temporary and for the permanent structures, six have already found legacy uses for after the Games. Hopefully, London's Olympic Park can avoid the fate of becoming a ghost town after its few weeks of glory.
The main stadium looks almost like a giant laurel wreath. Its lower tier actually sits inside a bowl in the ground which was created by excavating 800,000 tons of dirt. Uniquely, the Olympic Stadium is surrounded by water on three sides, meaning visitors have to cross bridges to get to the stadium. And who doesn't love a good almost-moat?
Designed by architect Zaha Hadid, the Aquatics Centre looks like a yacht crossed with a Dubai skyscraper. The building holds 17,500 spectators, and will host all the swimming competitions (including Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte's mega-battles).
Probably the best-looking building of all the 2012 Olympics, the Velodrome is an artfully designed... Pringle. In a good way! Cycling races will be held inside the 100% naturally ventilated system (read: NO AIR CONDITIONING). Other than the no AC thing, the Velodrome is lovely, and delicious. I'm impressed that they could build just one.
A temporary building that seems more like a cluster of marshmallows and/or soundproofed walls, the arena is made of 1,000 tons of steel and is recyclable. The exterior is covered in 20,000 meters of PVC fabric and will display the basketball genius of LeBron, Kobe, Durant and the rest of Team USA.
The Royal Artillery Barracks
If you ever wanted to know what a pepperoni pizza would look like in building form, the Royal Artillery Barracks is the answer. Good thing the building is temporary, because good gracious is it ugly.
North Greenwich Arena
More popularly known the O2 Arena, the 'North Greenwich Arena' wasn't built for the 2012 Olympics but for the Millenium celebrations over a decade ago. But for the next 16 days, it'll be home to Artistic and Trampoline Gymnastics, as well as Basketball and Wheelchair Basketball.
Simple and shiny, like a penny. Or pence. Or whatever Britishism is en vogue these days for a copper coin. Made for handball and the modern pentathlon, the roof of the Copper Box is fitted with 88 light pipes that pump natural light into the building.
So not exactly one building, because soccer games at the Olympics will be played at six soccer, er, football (fútbol?) stadiums across England: Old Trafford, Millenium Stadium, City of Coventry Stadium, Wembley Stadium, Saint James Park and Hampden Park.
No introductions necessary. Wimbledon will be home to... tennis. What, you were expecting lawn bowling?
BONUS: ArcelorMittal Orbit
Not a competition venue, the Orbit is the largest piece of public art in Britain and is supposed to be the "lasting legacy" of the Olympics. It looks like an orgy of steel or a tentacle wrapping around a stunted Space Needle or a perfect place to put the Olympic cauldron (though the Olympics have denied the flame will be housed there). Whatever it is, you're probably going to see a lot of it over the next few weeks.