City Cast

The Story Behind the Hoberman Arch

Terina Ria
Terina Ria
Posted on October 2
The Hoberman Arch at the Salt Lake City International Airport. (@ffkr_architects)

The Hoberman Arch at the Salt Lake City International Airport. (@ffkr_architects)

Have you been following the rise, fall, and rise again of the Hoberman Arch? It’s basically our Roman Empire. Tbh, I am a born and raised Utahn (and was even a “child of light” at the 2002 Winter Olympics) but didn’t know about the arch until City Cast Salt Lake host Ali Vallarta talked about it. If you’ve been near the Salt Lake City airport recently, though, there’s no missing it. Here’s everything you should know about the 2002 Winter Olympics relic.

What Even Is It?

The Hoberman Arch was designed by Chuck Hoberman, an artist, architect, and engineer. It was installed on the front stage of the Olympics Medal Plaza for the 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and served as a main focal point for the opening, closing, and medal ceremonies. The structure is 72-by-36 feet, weighs 31,000 pounds, and consists of 4,000 pieces. It was made to look like an iris, and it opens and closes like one, too.

Why Did They Take It Down?

After the Games, the arch resided at the University of Utah outside of Rice-Eccles Stadium. In 2014, the university asked the city to take it back. It was moved to an impound lot where people stole pieces of it to sell for scrap metal. After that, the city moved it to an undisclosed indoor facility to keep it secure.

Why Has It Returned Now?

Salt Lake City’s Olympic bid, most likely. ICYMI, the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee officially endorsed SLC to host an upcoming Winter Games, either in 2030 or 2034.

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