AKA: VIII Winter Olympic Games, Main Arena, Olympic Valley, CA; Eighth Winter Olympic Games, Blyth, Charles R., Arena, Olympic Valley, CA

Structure Type: built works - recreation areas and structures - arenas; built works - recreation areas and structures - sports complexes

Designers: Brunnier, H.J. , Associates, Structural Engineers (firm); Corlett and Spackman, Architects (firm); Eckbo, Royston and Williams, Landscape Architects (firm); Jenkins, Arthur C., Transportation and Traffic Engineer (firm); Kennedy, Office of Clyde C., Sanitary Engineers (firm); Kitchen and Hunt, Architects (firm); Punnett-Perez and Hutchison, Consulting Engineers (firm); Sardis, John and Associates, Consulting Engineers (firm); Vandament and Darmsted, Mechanical Engineers (firm); Henry John Brunnier Sr. (structural engineer); William Corlett (architect); Darmsted (mechanical engineer); Garrett N. Eckbo (landscape architect); Frank Bouldin Hunt (architect); Hutchison (engineer); Arthur C. Jenkins ; Clyde C. Kennedy ; Robert Sieber Kitchen (architect); Punnett-Perez (engineer); Robert Norman Royston (landscape architect); John M. Sardis (structural engineer); Wendell Ross Spackman (architect); Vandament (mechanical engineer); Edward Augustus Williams (landscape architect)

Dates: constructed 1958-1960, demolished 1983

total floor area: 67,200 sq. ft.

1765 Olympic Valley Road
8th Winter Olympic Site, Olympic Valley, CA 96146

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The Blyth Arena accommodated the opening and closing ceremonies as well as figure skating and ice hockey events during the VIII Winter Olympics at Squaw Valley, CA, (later renamed "Olympic Valley") near Lake Tahoe, between 02/18/1960 and 02/28/1960. It was enclosed on three sides and open on the south and had a 300-foot clear span roof made possible by an arrangement of steel purlins, columns, box girders and inclined tension cables. Due to changes in the roof's insulation structure, a very heavy snow in early 1983 caused its collapse.

Building History

This huge gable-roofed building had its two sides supported by steel cables held up by backstayed masts. The architects Corlett and Spackman and Kitchen and Hunt created a chalet-style, peaked roof to shed the heavy snow that Squaw Valley regularly receives. This mammoth chalet had a maximum height of 85 feet and roughly 67,200-square-feet of interior space. Three sides of the building were enclosed and the fourth was glazed allowing views of the nearby ski jump hill. About 8,500 spectators could fill the arena.

Structural engineers were H.J. Brunnier and John Sardis, while the metal contractor was the Harold E. Peterson Company, Incorporated. Diversified Builders, Incorporated was the main General Contractor for the 1960 Squaw Valley Games.

Building Notes

The Blyth Arena played host to the figure skating and ice hockey events at the 1960 Olympics. All of these were memorable for the home country, as individual men's and women's ice skaters won their events and the US Hockey Team beat both the Soviet Union and Czechoslovakia to take the gold medal.

A drawing of the Blyth Arena was featured on the cover of the Squaw Valley Olympic program.

Progressive Architecture magazine presented the design team with a Design Award for Recreational Structures in its P/A 1958 Design Awards program. In its citation it discussed the building's space planning and roof construction: "Largest building in the complete winter-sports center that is under construction near Lake Tahoe, this 8000-seat arena will house a hockey and figure-skating rink and serve as the setting for the opening and closing ceremonies of the Olympic Winter Games. Enclosed on three sides, it has a completely open fourth side facing south. On this fourth side, seating is movable--to be arranged parallel to the rink for skating events, perpindicular and in line with the permanent seating at the ends of the rink for major ceremonies. The 300-ft clear span roof rises at 4 in 12 pitch to a height at the ridge of 90 ft. Roof structure consists of a cellular-steel deck spanning about 12 feet, rolled-steel-beam purlins spanning 53 feet, and main supporting frames at 33-ft centers. The latter are tapered columns built up from steel plates, tapered steel box girders, and inclined-cable tension members. Each half of the main frame acts independently, something like a guy derrick, with the roof girder funtioning as a boom, the columns as the mast, and the inclined cables as guys. Cable anchorages are provided by dead men of concrete and masonry, with the extended roof girders resisting the horizontal thrust." (See "P/A Fifth Annual Design Awards Program Recreation: Design Award," Progressive Architecture, vol. 39, no. 1, 01/1958, p. 103.)

In the wake of George Floyd's death, objections were raised to the name of the town, "Squaw Valley" as "racist and sexist" prompting a name change to "Olympic Valley." (See Vimal Patel, New York Times.com, "Squaw Valley Resort, Acknowledging 'Racist and Sexist' Name, Changes It," published 09/14/2021, accessed 03/06/2024.) The US Post Office changed the site's name from "Squaw Valley" to "Olympic Valley," in 2022.


The Blyth Arena had its roof insulated in 1982 to save energy. Unfortunately, the insulation inhibited heat from the building's interior to melt snow off of the shallowly-pitched gable roof. Without this melting, the very large snowload in 03/1983 became too great for the structural system, and the roof collapsed. For years prior to the collapse, the operator of the ski resort had sought to remove the arena to enable larger parking lots to be built for skiiers. The roof's collapse enabled the arena's rapid and unceremonious demolition to build added parking.

PCAD id: 8367