Mark Byrnes is a senior associate editor at CityLab who writes about design and architecture.
Rules meant to protect sponsors prevent architects from winning awards for their Olympic facilities.
Sponsor protections for the Olympics have led to an unexpected victim - the architects.
According to the rules, only official sponsors (like McDonald's and Coca Cola) can promote their involvement in the London games. All others must remain mum about their work.
That has made it difficult for architects to showcase the stadiums and venues they designed. For example, Wilkinson Eyre Architects, the firm responsible for the new basketball arena (above), asked permission from Olympic authorities to enter it for multiple awards. Officials turned the firm down, saying it might conflict with Olympic marketing rules.
In the Guardian, Olympics minister Tessa Jowell criticized that decision. Jowell emphasized that the rules in place were never intended to keep architects from receiving honors. According to the story:
"I am concerned to hear that businesses such as Wilkinson Eyre, who have designed the stunning Basketball Arena, are finding themselves unable to put themselves forward for awards ceremonies to promote that good work," said Jowell. "This kind of stricture was never the intention when the rules were designed. I hope that a reasonable compromise can be found so that these great British architects can get the recognition that they deserve."
The architects have since been presented with a "protest award," announced last week at the 2012 New London Awards.
According to a report from Olympic Delivery Authority chairman Sir John Armitt, the next 12 to 18 months are crucial publicity time for builders. But it is "virtually impossible" for architects to advertise their work as of now.
According to the same Guardian article, government officials claimed the issue is unlikely to be addressed until after the conclusion of the Games when LOCOG hands over control to the British Olympic Association.
Top image courtesy Flickr user EG Focus