Olympics Games’ Centerpiece Gets Architectural Acknowledgment

With the London Olympic Games underway, more than 10,000 athletes are attracting the world’s attention. But winning the right to host the Games requires the ability to provide appropriate venues in which to showcase talent, and this year’s Olympic Stadium is no exception.

With the London Olympic Games underway, more than 10,000 athletes are attracting the world’s attention. But winning the right to host the Games requires the ability to provide appropriate venues in which to showcase talent, and this year’s Olympic Stadium is no exception.

The London Organising Committee provided the 80,000-seat structure in the English capital’s Stratford area, part of the Newham borough, at a cost of 486 million GBP, or $750 million. Following site preparations in 2007, construction took place from 2008 to 2011. The stadium was designed by Populous, formerly known as HOK Sport, an architectural firm that specializes in the design of sports facilities and convention centers. The company has extensive experience with iconic sports venues, having designed the new Yankee Stadium in New York, the new Wembley Stadium in London, Arsenal F.C.’s Emirates Stadium, San Francisco’s AT&T Park, as well as an impressive list of other major National Football League, Major League Baseball and college arenas.

Although the stadium was criticized for being less avant-garde than Beijing’s Bird’s Nest Stadium, it emphasizes sustainability and alteration as needed. For instance, it features 25,000 fixed seats but also a demountable lightweight steel and concrete upper structure built to accommodate a further 55,000 seats.

The venue’s versatility has already secured it future use. IT is slated to hold 2017’s World Athletics Championships, and will be used as a footballing venue for the long term. That followed a lengthy battle among London-based football clubs Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Leyton Orient to obtain the rights after the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Tottenham retired in order to develop its own stadium, and the winning bid eventually came from West Ham United and Newham Council.

The stadium is now nominated for the Royal Institute of British Architects’ Stirling Prize, an award that for the last 17 years has celebrated British architecture’s greatest achievements. The other nominated structures are Maggie’s Cancer Centre in Glasgow, the Hepworth Wakefield Gallery in Yorkshire, the Sainsbury Laboratory for plant science in Cambridge, the New Court Rothschild Bank in London and the reincarnation of the Lyric Theatre in Belfast.