Olympic Stadium (London)


Olympic Stadium (London)
Olympic Stadium
Olympic Park, London, 14 June 2011 (2) cropped.jpg
Olympic Stadium in June 2011
Location Marshgate Lane, Stratford, London, United Kingdom
Broke ground 2007
Built 2011
Operator Olympic Delivery Authority
Surface Track & Field (Grass)
Construction cost £486 Million[1]
Architect Populous (formerly HOK Sport)
Structural engineer Buro Happold
Services engineer Buro Happold
Main contractors Sir Robert McAlpine
Capacity 80,000[2]
Tenants
2012 Summer Olympic Games
2012 Summer Paralympic Games
2017 World Championships in Athletics

The London Olympic Stadium will be the centrepiece of the 2012 Summer Olympics and Paralympics. The stadium is located at Marshgate Lane in Stratford in the Lower Lea Valley and has capacity for the Games of approximately 80,000 making it temporarily the third largest stadium in Britain behind Wembley Stadium and Twickenham Stadium. Land preparation for the stadium began in mid 2007, with the official construction start date on 22 May 2008, although piling works for the foundation unofficially began four weeks ahead of that date. Construction ended on 29 March 2011. The Stadium will host the 2017 World Championships in Athletics. [3]

Contents

Design and construction status

Axonometric view of the Olympic Stadium, showing the various layers

The stadium design was launched on 7 November 2007. The architect, Populous, is an architectural firm specializing in the design of sports facilities and convention centres, as well as planning of major special events.[4]

As a "unique 80,000 seat stadium, it will be the centrepiece for the 2012 Games, hosting the opening and closing ceremonies and the athletics events, converting down to a 60,000 seat permanent stadium after the Games.

As of June 2009, the stadium's track and field arena has been excavated out of the soft clay found on the site, around which permanent seating for 25,000 has been assembled, using concrete "rakers". The natural slope of the land is incorporated into the design, with warm-up and changing areas being dug into a semi basement position at the lower end. A demountable lightweight steel and concrete upper tier has been built up from this “bowl” to accommodate a further 55,000 spectators, and is nearing completion.[5]

Exterior Wrap

Plastic, or perhaps an environmentally sustainable fabric, such as hemp, was initially expected to be wrapped around the stadium exterior and imprinted with a mural type design. The wrap would have been 20 metres (66 ft) high and would have encircled the 900-metre (1,000 yd) circumference of the stadium. Both hemp and the continuous wrapping were ruled out. The latest designs submitted for approval to the Olympic Delivery Authority suggest that rather than a continuous strip, the wrap will consist of 2.5 m wide fabric panels, twisted at 90 degree angles to allow entry to the stadium at the bottom of the structure, and held in place with tensioned cables.[6] It has since been reported in the Guardian newspaper that a member of the stadium design team, Rod Sheard, would prefer the wrap to take the form of a continuous video screen, although no costing for this has been given.[7] On 4 August 2011 was announced that Dow Chemical Company would fund a wrap for the stadium, in return for being able to advertise on the wrap until 26 June 2012, at which point all advertising and logos would be removed. The wrap wil be made from polyester and polyethylene, be printed using UV curable links and would encircle the stadium. It is expected to be installed around the stadium in early 2012.[8]

Spectator services

Interior of the stadium in September 2010

There will also be no food outlets inside the 80,000-seat arena, which reduces the need for kitchens and higher levels of fire protection associated with cooking. Instead, architects have planned party concourses outside the stadium inspired by the successful fan zones at the 2006 World Cup in Germany, where spectators gathered to eat and drink and watch the action on big screens. It has also been suggested that toilet areas known as "pods" could be created from recycled shipping containers with the water and sewage management self contained within, reducing the need for costly plumbing and facilitating the dismantling of the structure once in legacy mode.

Roof

The cable supported roof structure will cover approximately two thirds of the stadium's seating.[9] A six month study conducted by Olympic organisers found that while no roof at all could invalidate any potential world records set at the stadium, a partial roof reduced the chance of winds that can invalidate sprint and jump records from 50% to 5%.[citation needed] The roof will be made from a lightweight polymer based membrane.

Stadium Island

Aerial view of the Olympic Stadium site in October 2009

The stadium site is on former industrial land between the Old River Lea (which rejoins the Navigation below Old Ford Lock), the City Mill River, and the Old Pudding Mill River; parts of the Bow Back Rivers. Another branch of this system, St Thomas' Creek, 200 metres to the south, completes an "island" surrounded by water. Two hundred metres to the east is the Waterworks River; on the eastern bank will be the Aquatics Centre.

This "island" site for the stadium lies at the southern end of the Olympic Park. The existing waterways will be modified to surround the stadium, and access will be via several footbridges positioned around the building's perimeter.

LOCOG publications and media reports have begun to refer to the site as Stadium Island due to the location and design—a name that may potentially define the site in years to come.

Development process

On 13 October 2006, LOCOG confirmed that it had selected the Team Stadium consortium (consisting of Sir Robert McAlpine; HOK Sport + Venue + Event, now known as Populous; and Buro Happold) to start negotiations with, in hope to find the contractor fulfilling the eventual design and build contract of the new Olympic Stadium.[10]

The ODA received international and national interest to prequalify for the design and construction tender but Team Stadium was the only consortium to meet all prequalification criteria. The consortium was also the team who delivered the locally acclaimed new Emirates Stadium, home of Arsenal F.C. Team Stadium members have extensive experience in the design and build of sports venues, including the Olympic Stadium for the 2000 Sydney Games.

On October 11, 2011 Britain's Olympics minister Hugh Robertson confirmed the collapse of the Olympic Park Legacy Company's agreement with West Ham to take over the stadium after the games. The OPLC announced that negotiations with West Ham, unveiled as the preferred stadium bidder in February 2011, had ended because of growing concerns over delays caused by the ongoing legal dispute with rival club Tottenham Hotspur. West Ham had not signed any contracts, allowing the OPLC to abandon talks with the club. The stadium, which cost an estimated $760 million, will now remain in public ownership and leased out to an anchor tenant following a new tender process.[11]

Reaction

The stadium design received a mixed response from the media, with reviews ranging from "magnificent" to a "bowl of blancmange".[12]

The Olympic Stadium design was promoted as example of "sustainable development", but some architecture critics have questioned both its aesthetic value and suitability as a national icon - especially when compared to Beijing National Stadium. For example, Ellis Woodman (Building Design's architecture critic) said of the design:

"The principle of it being dismountable is most welcome... it demonstrates an obvious interest in establishing an economy of means and as such is the antithesis of the 2008 Olympic stadium in Beijing. But while that's an achievement, it's not an architectural achievement. In design terms what we're looking at is pretty underwhelming."

He went on to criticise the procurement and design processes – stating of the latter that it should have been subject to an architectural competition.[13]

This view was echoed by Tom Dyckhoff, The Times's architecture critic, who described the design as "tragically underwhelming" and commented that the "architecture of the 2008 and 2012 Olympics will, in years to come, be seen by historians as a "cunning indicator of the decline of the West and the rise of the East".[14]

Amanda Baillieu (Building Design magazine) challenges the designer's claims that the stadium is environmentally sustainable and good value for money. Instead it is asserted that the reality will be the opposite. In particular, she claims that:

  • the temporary roof could not be reused to cover the permanent 25,000 seating area – given the difference in size;
  • it is unlikely that the removed seating would be wanted for any other event e.g. the Glasgow Commonwealth games; and
  • the costs involved in dismantling the stadium – and surrounding "pods" – has not been factored into the estimated cost.[15]

The cost of £537 Million compared to cost of 1908 Olympics Stadium £60,000 (£5,629,148.93 adjusted with up to 2010 inflation rate).[16]

Post-Olympics

On 12 November 2010, it was announced that two bids had been shortlisted for the stadium post-Olympics. They are a joint bid from Tottenham Hotspur F.C. and Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), with the second bid from West Ham United F.C. and Newham Council.[17] The former bid would maintain the 80,000 capacity, while the latter would reduce it to 60,000.

Bid 1: AEG & Tottenham Hotspur

Artist's impression of the proposed new stadium by AEG and Tottenham Hotspur

These joint bidders had originally expressed individual interest in the venue but submitted a joint bid to take over. AEG is the company that redeveloped the loss making Millennium Dome exhibition venue in South East London into the profitable music venue The O2. When the formal bidding process opened, little was known of AEG's plans for the Olympic Stadium, but they were described as among the front-runners of interested parties, along with West Ham.[18] On 26 July 2010, it was rumoured that Tottenham might be interested in taking over the Olympic Stadium post-Games. The club have plans to build a new stadium adjacent to their current home, but the capacity could not reach that of the Olympic Stadium, making a move attractive to the club.

Bid 2: West Ham United & Newham Council

Following the 2010 takeover by David Gold and David Sullivan, the new owners of West Ham expressed their desire to make the Olympic Stadium as the club's new home. With Boris Johnson expressing his desire for a football team to take over the stadium after the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics this seemed the most likely option.[19] At the opening of the formal bid process, West Ham were considered favourites once they reversed from their initial opposition to keeping the running track as well as planning a £100m conversion to create a 60,000 capacity venue, which would also host international football, international athletics, as well as Essex County Cricket Club, international Twenty20 cricket matches, NFL matches and Live Nation events.[20]

Artist's impression of the proposed redeveloped stadium by West Ham United and Newham Council

Originally expressed interest: The legacy plan for the stadium originally involved its conversion into a 25,000 to 30,000 seat athletics stadium with a sports training, science and medicine centre following the 2012 Paralympics. Media reports however have suggested that several potential tenants were interested in moving to the Olympic Stadium after the Games, among them the England and Wales Cricket Board, along with several London cricket, football and rugby clubs:

  • English 2018 and 2022 FIFA World Cup bid: London United, the body responsible for identifying which football stadia in London should be incorporated into a World Cup bid, had expressed serious interest in also using the Olympic stadium as a football venue.[24]
  • London Wasps: It has been reported in the London Press and nationally that London Wasps rugby union team could move from their home in High Wycombe to the vacant Olympic Stadium.[25] However there has been opposition from the Buckinghamshire public and some of Wasps players, as Wasps now contribute to community life and have built up a solid fan base in the area that would be hard to recreate in East London.[26]
  • Saracens R.F.C.: Saracens Chairman Nigel Wray has put in a bid to see the North London club move from Vicarage Road (which they currently share with Watford F.C.) to East London.[27]
  • London Skolars R.L.F.C.: Rugby League Championship One side London Skolars have also expressed an interest to move into the stadium following the Olympics. This would form the basis of a Super League licence application, however no official moves have been made as of yet.
  • Talk had also spread that the National Football League of American football had been looking at placing a franchise in London, and the stadium has been seen as a potential venue for all home games for the team. The as-built Olympic Stadium would easily meet the league's requirements for seating capacity, and would have no trouble accommodating an American football field, which is about 5 metres longer than a FIFA-standard association football pitch (including the end zones) but nearly 20 metres narrower. This has also been seen as one of the ways that the stadium could make maximum surplus after the games, due to interest shown in the International series played in London.
  • Leyton Orient F.C.: The closest club geographically, Leyton Orient announced in November 2007 that they were in negotiations regarding permanent tenancy after the games.[28] This would allow for redevelopment of their existing Brisbane Road stadium and provide a regular use for the Olympic and Paralympic venue.

Despite several rounds of negotiations with potential tenants, LOCOG has elected to adhere to its bid commitment to provide a legacy for athletics at the stadium, with capacity reduced to a more financially-viable 25,000. However, the newly-elected Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, has stated that all parties need to look carefully at the legacy plans for the stadium and has not ruled out use by either a professional football or rugby team. This in mind, the contract for building the stadium clearly stated that it must stay as a usable athletics track available for competition and training at any time.

After receiving and pre-screening over 100 expressions of interest, the formal bidding process of selecting the post-Olympics user of the stadium opened on 18 August 2010. It was to run until 30 September, after which the OPLC would draw up a shortlist, with a view to selecting a tenant by the end of the financial year, by March 31. The winning bidder is required to support the regeneration of the area, and retain the stadium as a "distinctive physical symbol".[18][29]

West Ham United

On 11 February 2011 the Olympic Park Legacy Committee selected West Ham United & Newham Council as the preferred bidder to take over the Olympic Stadium after the 2012 Games. The decision in favour of West Ham's bid was unanimous.[30] However Leyton Orient have complained that the stadium is too close to their ground and would breach FA rules. They claim that West Ham's plans could force them into bankruptcy.[31] On 3 March 2011 West Ham United's proposed move to the Olympic Stadium was approved by the British government and London mayor Boris Johnson.[32]

Judicial review and independent investigation

Tottenham Hotspur F.C. and Leyton Orient applied for a judicial review to overturn the OPLC's decision, however this appeal was rejected in June 2011[33] Tottenham Hotspur, then appealed the decision not to have a review on 29 June 2011.[34] On 23 August, the day before they were due in court, it looked like the football club would drop all claims for a review when they staged 'intense negotiations' with the office of the Mayor of London, and looked set to be offered funding for their own stadium.[35] However the next day Tottenham did attend court despite being close to striking a deal about their own stadium, thus allowing West Ham to move into the Olympic stadium by 2014. Tottenham and Leyton Orient won a review of the decision, being told that they had an arguable case.[36] The review will take place on 18 October 2011. However if Tottenham abandon the review due to being granted a new stadium Orient will continue with its owner Barry Hearn calling the decision to grant a review "a great day for the little man."[37] It has been reported that if the judicial review orders a re-run of the bidding process then a clause will be inserted stipulating that the winning bidder must retain a running track within the stadium itself.[38]

The Olympic Legacy Company announced on 5 July 2011 that an independent review into the awarding of the Olympic Park Stadium to West Ham United was to be carried out following the discovery on 30 June 2011 that an employee, Dionne Knight, had been engaged by West Ham to carry out consultancy work relating to the Olympic Stadium without permission of the OPLC. Ms Knight, had already declared to the OPLC that she was in a personal relationship with a director of West Ham and, was suspended whilst a possible conflict of interest was investigated.[39] On 22 August 2011, the independent investigation ruled that the process was not compromised and thus the bid process will not be reopened.[40]

On 11 October 2011, the deal to sell the stadium to West Ham collapsed.[41] West Ham immediately announced plans to become tenants of the stadium.[42] On 18 October Leyton Orient submitted an application to the Football League for permission for a move to the stadium. Chairman Barry Hearn said, "We are asking for a 25,000-seat stadium and we want to see if we can get around the athletics track. It has to stay, we know that. But can we build up, if not down, and see if it’s possible to get it covered while we play?".[43]

World Athletics Championships

London bid to host the 2015 World Athletics Championships using its Olympic Stadium. It went up against Beijing's Olympic Stadium and the Polish city of Chorzow. However the stadium had to pull out of the running of hosting the championships due to the uncertainty of the stadium, due to the timing of the announcement of who would operate the stadium after the Olympics, thus gifting Beijing the championships.[44] With the issues resolved over the stadium's future, London again used the stadium to bid for the 2017 World Athletics Championships.[45] The bid was made official in August with Lord Coe personally submitting the bid a few weeks later at the 2011 World Athletic Championships in Degeu. London's Mayor Boris Johnson and the British government have backed the bid.[46] Following Tottenham winning the right to a review on 18 October 2011, just three weeks before the IAAF vote on the 2017 championships host, Lord Coe, on 25 August 2011 stated that the bid would be unaffected by the legal battle. With, UK Athletics chairman, Ed Warner adding "Whatever the outcome of that process there is going to be a track in that stadium and that's what matters and that's the commitment we're making to the IAAF."[37] On 11 November 2011, the IAAF officially awarded the 2017 World Championships to London.

See also

References

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External links

Coordinates: 51°32′19″N 0°00′59″W / 51.53861°N 0.01639°W / 51.53861; -0.01639

Preceded by
Beijing National Stadium
Beijing
Summer Olympics
Opening and Closing Ceremonies (Olympic Stadium)

2012
Succeeded by
Estádio do Maracanã
Rio de Janeiro
Preceded by
Beijing National Stadium
Beijing
Summer Paralympics
Opening and Closing Ceremonies (Olympic Stadium)

2012
Succeeded by
Estádio do Maracanã
Rio de Janeiro
Preceded by
Beijing National Stadium
Beijing
Olympic Athletics competitions
Main Venue

2012
Succeeded by
Estádio Olímpico João Havelange
Rio de Janeiro
Preceded by
Beijing National Stadium
Beijing
Paralympic Athletics competitions
Main Venue

2012
Succeeded by
Estádio Olímpico João Havelange
Rio de Janeiro

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