Squeezing a million extra visitors into New York would be an Olympian feat, but the team bidding against London to host the 2012 games has developed a race advantage. They call it the Olympic X
New York is limbering up to take on London and seven other cities across the world for the honour of hosting the 2012 Olympic Games. Although it's still early days – the host city for the 2012 games will not be selected until July 2005 – the New York games committee has mobilised the American architectural and construction community to plan and design suitable venues.

To date, architectural superstars such as Cesar Pelli and Rafael Viñoly have stepped forward with designs, and Bovis Lend Lease and British quantity surveyor Hanscomb are providing construction advice.

This is New York's first-ever Olympic bid, despite the fact that it has long been considered the de facto city of the USA. Its spending plans are in line with its status, with estimates of the cost of hosting the games and developing the sports venues and infrastructure running as high as £7.6bn. However, Dan Doctoroff, the New York City deputy mayor in charge of the Olympic bid, stresses that most of that money will come from the private sector New York's main problem in staging the Olympic Games, as Doctoroff readily admits, is that the city's strained transport system is likely to seize up under the deluge of more than a million visitors expected at the 17-day event. To avoid such a catastrophe, an innovative town-planning concept has been adopted.

Enigmatically dubbed the Olympic X, the basic notion is that all the venues for the 28 Olympic sports should be located along just two transit axes. One is based on water transport – the East River, to the east of Manhattan – and the other on rail, with a line stretching from Long Island to Manhattan.

At the intersection of the two axes is the site for the proposed Olympic Village, providing temporary accommodation for 16,000 athletes, their coaches and Olympic officials.

A 30 ha brownfield site in Queens, Long Island, has been earmarked as the Olympic Village site; the village could later be converted into housing for 18,000 New Yorkers. As well as being conveniently served by the proposed transport axes, the riverfront site commands spectacular views of Manhattan's massed skyscrapers.

So far, a notional urban scheme for a £1bn mixed-use high-rise development has been drawn up for the site by architect Cooper Robertson & Partners, and the New York Olympic bid committee has set an open design competition for the site with a shortlist of five finalists to be announced next week.

The winner will be selected in May next year.

The fact that the USA hosted the summer and winter Olympics in 1996 and 2002 respectively mean that New York may not be the frontrunner to hold the 2012 games. Even so, the concerted effort by the city authorities, entrepreneurs, architects and contractors sets an inspiring precedent that could be channelled into other ambitious and socially valuable urban regeneration programmes in the future.