THE OLYMPIC VENUES

Long before the Games of the XVII Olympiad were assigned to Rome, the C.. O. N. I. had already made a careful study of the sports venues that would be required for the great event. In this respect, on 20th October 1954 the Executive Board of the C.O.N.I. decided to set up an appropriate Technical Committee known as " Rome Olympic Constructions " (C.O.R.).
The C.O.R. first of all attended to, in agreement and in close co-operation with the Rome Municipality and the Ministry for Public Works, finding suitable areas for both venues and the Olympic Village and rapidly set out various plans and technical elaborations in this respect. At that time, there only existed the Olympic Stadium which had been inaugurated two years previously and which came into being under the auspices of the Secretary-General of the C.O.N.I., Mr. Bruno Zauli.
The C.O.R. was placed in the charge of Mr. Mario Saini, Vice Secretary- General of the C.O.N.I. who was also Technical Director of the Games; Secretary of the C.O.R. was Ing. Luciano Berti, recently deceased, who dedicated the greater part of his life to the various problems connected with sports venues.
The C.O.R. made use of the services of Prof. Ing. Cesare Valle of the Ministry for Public Works and Ing. Francesco Allegra, Secretary-General of the National Institute for the Housing of State Employees (I.N.C.I.S.) as technical consultants and also consulted the finest Italian technicians on the various problems as and when they arose.
Above all, the C.O.R. received considerable help from the Minister for Public Works at that time, Mr. Giuseppe Togni, who succeeding in overcoming the tremendous difficulties of that period with enthusiasm, competence and dedication.
Besides the problem of the sports venues and the Olympic Village, which will be illustrated later, the C.O.R., in co-operation with the Ministry of Posts and Telegraphs and the Tirrena Telephone Company, planned and executed the whole of the communication network as well as telephone, telegraph and radio communications. It also set up the various Press Centres, an extremely complicated work which took over two years to complete, which proved extremely satisfactory as, during the Games, they were a means of keeping the Press informed with a speed such as has never been reached up to now.
Another sector which the C.O.R. managed to put into operation in time in each venue, was that of the visual and acoustic communication service for the public, a service which enabled spectators to receive results of the various events with extreme rapidity and clearness immediately after the various Juries had compiled them.
But perhaps the greatest satisfaction afforded those responsible for the sports venues was that, once the Games were over, the venues that had been prepared for the event today become an ever-increasing attraction to Roman youth which frequents them with great enthusiasm, filled with the memories of the success of the Rome Olympiad.

Overall organization of the work

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The general criterion followed by the C.O.R. (Rome Olympic Constructions) in the organisation for the construction of venues necessitated dividing up the work into three sectors, that is, the venues under construction were classified under three categories:— (a) competition venues; (b) subsidiary venues; (c) Olympic villages.
Venues where the Olympic competitions were held and where training took place fell under the first two categories. Also classified under these two categories was the work of improvement, re-laying and adaptation of venues already in existance. The third category included lodgings for athletes and competition officials, accompanying personnel, etc. The C.O.R. enforced certain directives for all venues, both for those to be newly built as well as those requiring improvements, and therefore stipulated that:— (a) improvements of luxury or of high cost were to be avoided and that the aim was to create functional venues to be run at a minimum cost.
One exception was made, i.e. for the Palazzo dello Sport because of the type of events to be held there and the particular area where it was to be built; (b) the construction of venues on privately owned land was to be avoided, preference being given to land of municipal or State property which could be subject to negotiation between the C.O.N.I. and interested authorities; (c) the subsidiary venues to be used should be those, as far as possible, already in existence and which could be easily adapted or improved upon; (d) account should be taken of the capacity for the public in occasion of the Olympic Games and future use of the venue once the Games were over.
A detailed estimate of expense was prepared for each and every project and all estimates were carefully examined and approved by the Executive Board of the C.O.N.I. Again, particularly for the bigger venues, plans were examined by the Inter-ministerial Committee for Sports Venues (in accordance with Law 739 dated 2/6/1939), the Rome Municipality Building Committee, the Superintendent's Office for Rome Monuments and Fine Arts and also by the Superior Council of the Ministry for Public Works.
Tenders for the work Contracts for the work were made by tender between reputable firms registered with the office of the Supervisor of Public Works and selected by an appropriate Committee established periodically and in accordance with the practice adopted by the Ministry for Public Works. Insofar as the Olympic Villages was concerned, the C.O.N.I., having obtained approval from the Ministry of Public Works, made special arrangements with the National Institute for the Housing of State Employees, this latter Institute being a parastatal organisation which provides housing. In fact, once the Olympic period was over, the village became an ideal residential quarter inhabited principally by State employees.
The work of construction was carried out in accordance with the regulations governing public works and a control was established by inspectors nominated and chosen, for their proven capacity, by the Ministry for Public Works.
From a town-planning point of view, the Venues were planned and built in two separate areas known as:— (a) The North Olympic Centre, including the Foro Italico, which was situated in one of the most characteristic areas of Rome lying between the green slopes of Monte Mario and the Farnesina hills; (b) The South Olympic Centre which was created in the area selected for the Universal Exhibition of 1942 (E.U.R.). This area was developing rapidly and had become a new suburb of Rome.
The Ministry for Public Works undertook to provide a road network linking these two centres and called the Olympic Way.
In 1928, works were started to develop the slopes of Monte Mario and surrounding areas which were soon to witness a series of modern constructions built for the holding of sports events. Later, because of the Olympic Games which were to have taken place in Rome in 1944, work was started on the building of a stadium, known as Stadio dei Cipressi, which was to be oval in shape.
Unfortunately, because of the war, the Games were never held, and all work on the area was suspended. However, in December 1950 work was started by C.O.N.I.
to create the new Olympic Stadium on the same site as the former one and to improve the existing venues such as the Stadio dei Marmi, the fencing gymnasium, the tennis courts and the covered swimming pool, etc.

The Olympic stadium

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The Olympic Stadium was built on the same basis as that of the Stadio dei Cipressi which was planned by architect Mario Moretti. The new project was planned by Prof. Carlo Roccatelli and architect Annibale Vitellozzi.
The Stadium is situated on an area of land measuring 90,000 sq. m. and covers 33,500 sq. m. of this. The external perimeter has a length of 1,200 metres.
The public has access to the Stadium through 10 external gates and reach their places through 59 corridors. The stadium can be emptied in a maximum of 11 minutes.
The field and track are separated from the public by a pit 2 m. wide and 1.90 m. deep. Its total length is 507 metres.
The grass field, the track and the other installations for athletics possess a special arrangement for drainage which also functions, during the hot season, to provide the degree of humidity required. There is also a modern and efficient installation which permits watering in a short period of time.
The seating tiers run for a total length of approx. 30 kms. They are 0.80 m.
wide and 0.40 m. high, with intervening corridors planned so as to permit excellent visibility for the public in any section. At the Monte Mario end, the Stadium has an iron construction 80 m. long with 40 cabins built in aluminium and glass, for telecommentators. Arrangements for the Press include a workroom, various waiting-rooms and premises with 54 telephone booths for local and international calls. Available also is a room with teleprinters, telephoto premises and a telegraph office.
During the Olympic Games, the 572 seats normally reserved for journalists (of which 294 under cover) were increased to 1,126 seats and the various services such as telephones, telegraph and radio facilities were also amplified accordingly.
On the ground floor, in direct communication with the 4 entrances to the field, are located 4 groups of dressing-rooms all provided with showers and hygienic services. During the Games, these were used by competition officials.
A special system of loudspeaker equipment, installed in the pit which encircles the field, informs the public of news and results, sound being directed upwards.
A thermic centre with five boilers, capable of producing up to 1,200,000 calories, supples heating for the premises as well as hot water. The power plant for lighting and motive power produces up to 375,000 watts and consists of a main generating station with 11 sub-units. In case of emergency, the Stadium also possesses an autonomous lighting plant. Apart from the electrical centre, there is also a telephone exchange and a radio centre which are situated below the Monte Mario stands.
The four towers for night lighting provide illumination amounting to 250 lux units centred on the field for evening competitions.
The Olympic Stadium was built for a total cost of 3,400,000,000 lire.
Summary of main characteristics:

  • total capacity, if necessary, for up to 90,000 spectators;
  • symmetrically oval in shape in respect to both axes;
  • main axis measures 319 metres externally and 205.80 internally;
  • minor axis measures 186 metres externally and 94.40 internally;
  • field level is 4.50 metres below road level;
  • maximum height of the tiers in respect to the field is 20.50 metres.

The Flaminio stadium

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The new Flaminio Stadium stands on the site of the former " Torino " Stadium, formerly noted for its severe architectural style and Grecian line.
Built in 1911 and reconstructed in 1927, this latter stadium was considered out-of-date from a technical point of view and unfit for use due to the ravages of time, and the dangerous cracks which had appeared induced the authorities to restrict its use for reasons of safety. This old stadium, having served its purpose, was therefore replaced by an ultramodern stadium. The old stadium now only exists in the pages of sports history lived within its walls but it may also be remembered as the former headquarters of the C.O.N.I.
With its modern installations and its services for both public and press, the new Flaminio Stadium fulfills all the requirements of an up-to-date venue.
It was constructed immediately after the old stadium was demolished in July 1957. The Flaminio Stadium was officially inaugurated on 12th March 1959 and the following day witnessed the football match between the amateur teams of Italy and Holland.
The new stadium, designed by the architects Pierluigi and Antonio Nervi and built by the firm of Nervi and Bartoli under the direction of Engineer Bruno Magrelli, covers the same area as the former one. It was, however, possible to increase the number of seats as the seating tiers were projected to a height of 6 metres. In fact, the stadium has a capacity for 42,000 persons of which 8,000 under cover. Exterior entrances regulate the entry and exit of the public. All sectors are provided with bar and other services. There are spacious dressing-rooms under the stands for football teams, all provided with showers, bathrooms, massage rooms and a medical consultation infirmary.
Athletes reach the field through an underground passage.
Even though the stadium is reserved for football matches, there are a number of training venues located below the stands and which can be reached through different entrances to those used by the public during the Olympic Games. These include:— a covered and heated swimming pool measuring 25 × 10 metres, a fencing hall and two smaller halls for instruction purposes, a group of two gymnasiums for wrestling and weightlifting, a boxing room and a gymnasium for gymnastics.
The Stadium disposes of 114 seats for journalists and 12 cabins for radiocommentators which project out from under the roof of the covered stand.
There is also a press room with telephone booths and a room with teleprinters.
During the Games both the seats for the Press and facilities were substantially increased.
The lighting installations used during evening competitions are among the most modern. There are 240 projectors placed on four steel towers; each tower is fitted with 60 projectors placed in rows of 15 each and at a height varying from 42 to 46.50 metres. The installation has a lighting power of 425 kilowatts and illumination of the field can be graduated to exceed 300 lux units for each sq. metre of field.
The Flaminio Stadium took 80,000 work days (men × days) to construct and did not exceed the estimated cost of 900 million lire.
Summary of technical data:

  • total area covered:— 21,650 sq. metres approx.;
  • measurements of field:— 105 × 70 metres;
  • major axis:— 181 metres; — minor axis:— 131 metres;
  • dimensions of covered swimming pool:— 25 × 10 metres with a minimum depth of 1.60 metres and a maximum depth of 1.80 m.

It is air-conditioned with room temperature of 26° and water temperature of 24°

The Palazzetto dello Sport

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The Palazzetto dello Sport was the first venue to be completed under the construction plans for the Games of the XVII Olympiad and may be considered as the prototype of a sports venue of medium size built at low cost.
It was with this idea in mind that the technical installations and equipment were reduced to an absolute minimum, whilst internal and external finishing touches were practical and economical. In this way a venue was created which could be used extensively for purposes of sports propaganda.
Built in accordance with a general plan by architect Annibale Vitellozzi and a project for the reinforced concrete portion by Engineer Pierluigi Nervi— under the direction of Engineer Giacomo Maccagno— this venue can be used for every kind of indoor sport.
Within its precincts, apart from services for the public which include amenities, bars and a first-aid centre, there are four groups of dressing-rooms with independent entrances capable of accommodating 100 athletes, a dressingroom for competition officials, a medical sports centre, an office for the management and a press room with 12 telephone booths. There are also two large store rooms and other smaller premises. Heating and air-conditioning installations are situated in the basement.
The hall is illuminated by indirect lighting consisting of an arrangement of incandescent bulbs set in 18 metallic globes held in place by steel wiring, whilst the illumination of the arena is provided by two rows of projectors situated in the dome and which can be regulated according to the event taking place.
The dome also houses the aspirator equipment for purification of the air as well as loudspeaker equipment. Other loudspeakers to call athletes forward are situated in the dressing-rooms. Electric scoreboards with chronometers synchronised with those of the referees have been installed for basketball competitions. These same scoreboards, after slight modifications, can also be used for indoor tennis and other sports. During boxing tournaments and wrestling matches, a special chronometer situated immediately above the ring or stage indicating the timing of each bout is clearly visible to all spectators.
Seating accommodation for boxing, basketball, tennis and wrestling has been the subject of careful study. In fact, the venue can seat 3,500 persons for basketball and some 5,600 for boxing, wrestling, etc.
Outside the building, the areas in between the supporting pillars are arranged as gardens, whilst a road of 78 metres in diameter runs right the way round the venue, thus ensuring the rapid exit of the public.
The building is surmounted by a round vault of 1,620 prefabricated parts in concrete and which required 1,300 quintals of iron, 550 of which were required for the dome alone, and 9,600 quintals of cement. It covers an area of 4,776 sq. metres with a cubic capacity of 40,200 cub. m.
Construction of the Palazzetto was undertaken by the firm of Nervi & Bartoli and was started on 26th July 1956 and completed on 15th September 1957. It required 28,750 work days (men × days) and cost a total of 263,000,000 lire including furnishing and sports equipment.

Summary of technical data:

  • Area covered:— 4,776 sq. metres;
  • External diameter:— 78 metres;
  • Internal diameter:— 58.50 metres;
  • Height from arena level to top of dome:— 21 metres;
  • Seating tiers are of crescent shape, i.e. they follow the oval shape of the arena which is situated 3 metres below ground level.

The Swimming stadium

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The Swimming Stadium is situated in the North Olympic Centre in the immediate vicinity of the covered swimming pool. It was planned by architect Annibale Vitellozzi and Prof. Enrico del Debbio. Works were directed by Prof. Cherubino Malpeli. The complex is divided into two separate zones; the first including the competition pool and respective services with seating tiers for the public whilst the second contains venues for swimming instruction and a pool for children and non-swimmers.
The Olympic pools and swimming school pool contain a gallery running around the perimeter with glass observation panels and underwater lighting.
Special technical equipment permits the water to be maintained at a temperature varying between 22° and 24° C.
The seating tiers can normally accommodate 8,000 spectators but during the period of the Games the capacity was increased to 20,000 by means of additional temporary fixtures.
The starting blocks at the ends of the pool are fitted with special plugs for the electric chronometers and a special plug for a watch mechanism which registers the lengths swum in long-distance races.
The Stadium has been equipped with comfortable dressing-rooms which include, in addition to the ordinary services, rest booths for the athletes. On the side of the pools are located press rooms, telephone and telegraph services, special installations for radio-commentators and equipment for the transmission of telephotos and television recordings, offices for timekeepers, directors and competition officials.
In a building lying between the Olympic pools and the swimming school pools are to be found 2 snack-bars, one with an ample open-air space for the swimmers and the other, completely separated from the first, reserved for the public which can also make use of a large terrace.
The Stadium possesses a large solarium and 150 dressing-rooms. The Stadium is open to the public except during days when competitions are held or when training takes place. The Stadium can accommodate some 3,000 swimmers per day.
An underground passage connects the Stadium to the covered swimming pool which, during the Games, was reserved for the athletes for warming-up before their races. This latter pool, designed by architect Enrico del Debbio, is located in a vast hall measuring 62 × 36 metres. One side is completely open to day-light by means of windows which extend from the floor to the ceiling. On the opposite side there are 6 seating tiers for the public.
There is also a balcony with access to a large room where refreshments are available. The pool, which measures 50 × 20 metres, is lined with marble, whilst the space around the pool is paved with black-and-white marble decorated with acquatic mosaic designs. The wall at the end of the pool is also of marble mosaic designed with mythological scenes depicted in coloured mosaic.
The constructions of the Swimming Stadium required considerable quantities of material which included:— 41,000 quintals of cement, 10,000 quintals of iron, 17,000 sq. metres of travertine marble slabs, 2,000 sq. metres of glass and 20,000 sq.
metres of water-proofing material. 100,000 cub. m. of earth had to be removed.
The work of construction, undertaken by the firm of Eng. Loy Dona and Brancaccio, was started in the autumn of 1957 and the Stadium was inaugurated in the spring of 1960 with an International Swimming Meeting between Italy, Great Britain and Finland.

Summary of technical data:

  • Olympic pool:— 25 × 50 metres with depth ranging from 1.80 to 2 m.
  • Diving pool:— 18 × 20 metres with depth from 4.50 to 5 metres. There are four springboards, two 3-metre and two 1-metre; diving platforms of 1, 3, 5, 7.50 and 10 metres. The 10-metre platform can be reached by a lift.
  • Swimming school pools:— one measuring 25 × 12.50 metres, depth ranging from 1.20 to 1.40 metres, another of 4 × 12.50 metres with depth from 0.90 to 1 metre and a third of 20 × 10 metres with depth of 1.20 metres.

The Stadio dei Marmi

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The Stadio dei Marmi (Marble Stadium), built in 1936 on a project by architect Prof. Enrico del Debbio, somewhat resembles a Greek stadium. Its main characteristic is the superb series of 60 statues which crown the glacis.
Each statue is 4 metres high and is set on a cylindrical block of two metres in diameter and 1.20 metres high.
The seating tiers which form a series of steps, except for two breaks, measure a total of 5,000 sq. metres and can accommodate about 15,000 spectators.
The blocks of marble forming the tiers provide the stadium with its special character, hence its name of Marble Stadium.
A number of technical modifications were necessary on this stadium in occasion of the Games of the XVII Olympiad. The sports arena was completely re-laid so as to make it completely efficient. The throwing areas and the 400-metre track with six lanes were completely renewed so as to make them suitable for the various uses required by the various types of athletic sports.
The traditional types of throwing areas and tracks were transformed into large spaces made out of " tennisolite " mixture and thus permitted more rational use of the venue.

The services, dressing-rooms, and stores were installed in two pavilions on each side of the entrance. Under the stands, 18 dressing-rooms were built, all containing showers and amenities, which were used, during the various competitions, by all the participants in the Athletics events of the Olympic Games.

Summary of technical data:

  • Sports ground:— covers an area of 14,000 sq. m. and measures 63 × 103 metres.
  • Track:— 400 metres overall length with 6 lanes.

The Acqua Acetosa sports zone

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The necessity of providing Rome with a centre adequate to meet the everincreasing sports requirements of the capital decided the Italian National Olympic Committee to set up a complex of works in the Acqua Acetosa area.
This area extends to the North-East of Rome on the left bank of the Tiber some 2 kms. from the Foro Italico Olympic centre, 1 km. from the Olympic Village, Palazzetto dello Sport and some 4 kms. from the centre of the city.
The idea which prompted the building of this Venue was to encourage the formation of young persons wishing to undergo specialised training. The project by architect Annibale Vitellozzi was realised over an area of 220,000 sq.
metres and the necessary work was undertaken by the Engineering firm of Magrelli, Lombardi and Androsoni. The Venue which was perfect from a technical point of view was extremely useful to the Olympic Games as the athletes used it for their daily training. Some 2,000 athletes were present there daily.
The Acqua Acetosa sports area is also one of great natural beauty with more than 30,000 trees. It contains nine fields for football, rugby and hockey as well as four other fields for collective games. There is also a swimming pool measuring 50 × 20 metres and a large gymnasium for indoor sports. The various Venues are equipped with all modern services, dressing-rooms, massage rooms, saunas, offices, stores, premises for equipment, etc. In the centre of the area is a large building which will become the headquarters of the centre for medical sports studies.

Summary of technical data:

  • Total area covered:— 220,000 sq. metres;
  • Swimming pool:— 50 × 20 metres, depth 2 metres and equipped with a perfect water-purifying installation;
  • 3 football fields, 3 rugby fields, 2 hockey fields, 1 baseball field and other minor grounds;
  • 1 covered gymnasium, 40 × 20 metres, for gymnastics and four other gymnasiums for boxing, wrestling, etc., all equipped with saunas and dressing-rooms;
  • a complex of 4 other gymnasiums for theoretical and practical teaching and training;
  • one accommodation building for athletes consisting of 2 groups of bedrooms for a total of 100 beds and a group of kitchen premises, restaurant, bar, and rest-room;
  • 1 building destined to the headquarters of the Sports Medecine Institute;
  • 1 headquarters building for the Grounds Manager;
  • 2houses for the custodians;
  • Area reserved as a nursery garden for flowers and plants.

The Shooting ranges

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The Olympic Shooting Range is located in the same area as that of the former Umberto I Shooting Range in Viale Lazio. Of this former range, there only remains the building reserved for services which was naturally re-moder nized. It was built in accordance with most modern technical principles and was designed by architect Maurizio Clerici (with Eng. Giulio Palmonella in charge of the work). The range includes 2 separate installations each measuring 88 × 56 metres. One of these is reserved for 50-metre shooting competitions and is covered by a 10-metre wide transparent roof running the total length of 88 metres. It has a total of 40 shooting lanes. 3 large walls in concrete covered with wood and a back wall, 6.50 metres high and 1.50 metres wide, provide the necessary safety precautions.
A special target control system was devised which operated from the shooters position. It consisted of a series of pulleys driven by an electric motor to which the targets were fixed. The system whereby the target could be brought back mechanically to the shooter was extremely useful during training, as each shooter was able to check each shot. During the competitions proper, this permitted rapid execution of firing and saved a considerable amount of time and target personnel.
The 25-metre range was constructed behind the first bullet-protection wall and comprised 2 areas, one for free pistol and one for the pistol shooting test of the Pentathlon. The targets in this range were also operated by an electric machine. For the 300-metre rifle shooting competition, a shooting range was built at Cesano, some 25 kms. from the Foro Italico Sports Centre which is reached by a road off the Via Cassia. The Cesano Shooting Range, the property of the Italian Infantry School, had to undergo special improvements which included the setting up of a roof over 58 shooting lanes as well as a bunker for the mobile targets. The venue was equipped with all services useful to the competition and essential to both athletes and public.
A communication link system was also installed.
The Clay-Pigeon Shooting Competition took place at the shooting range belonging to the Lazio Club, situated in Via Eugenio Vejana 21, immediately adjacent to the Piazzale delle Muse Square and 1 km. distant from the Olympic Village. This venue, completely renewed and equipped with the most modern launching machines, covers an area of some 5,500 sq. metres which comprises space reserved for the public to the extent of some 2,000 persons.
Use can also be made of a large terrace situated on top of the Clubhouse.