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London 2012: ‘Big build’ is gathering momentum

John Armitt

“Nothing short of astounding” was how the International Olympic Committee described the progress that we have made on the Olympic Park since we fired the “big build” starting gun over a year ago.

This is a great credit to the team work and focus of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), our delivery partner and the contractors and their supply chains. It is also a credit to the UK design, construction and engineering industry. So far, so good.

This time last year the site of the Olympic Stadium was a cleared, cleaned and decontaminated platform for construction. In 12 months the team has installed: 4,500 concrete piles; 112 steel rakers as terrace supports for upper tier seats; over half of the 12,000 precast concrete terracing units; 12 of 28 steel sections of the roof compression truss weighing 85t each; a permanent foot bridge and abutments for four more bridges.

There remain challenges ahead for Team Stadium but it is important to recognise the achievement to date. The stadium is taking shape in the skyline. Work is now getting underway on fitting out 700 internal rooms, including the warm up track under the West Stand, and preparations are about to start on the roof itself.

The roof, which will cover 60% of spectators, carry lighting and cameras and play a vital role in the opening and closing ceremonies, is one of the major challenges ahead for the project as a whole. As with the rest of the building, a stadium roof has never been designed or built in this way before.

In April, construction started early on the International Broadcast Centre (IBC)/Main Press Centre (MPC), the huge centre that will house media during the Games and offer new business space in Hackney in legacy. This marked building up and running on the “Big Five” Olympic Park venues, a major milestone for the project.

The Aquatics Centre roof is starting to take its stunning wave like shape alongside the Stadium in the skyline. A year on from the start of work on the Village work is underway on six out of 12 blocks with their lift shafts shooting up and floors quickly joining them. The Velodrome team is storming ahead on the foundations just a few months into the job and it won’t be long until the steel frame of the enormous IBC starts to come out of the ground.

Every inch of the site is humming with energy now and the logistics operation is constantly ramping up to help keep the people and vehicles moving and delivering with health and safety, always our number one priority.

However, everybody in construction knows that a successful project is only ever a hair’s width away from a serious problem that can have serious consequences on your time, cost or quality. We and our contractors are doing everything we can to forecast, evaluate and minimise risks but they can never be eliminated.

A year into the “big build”. So far, so good, never complacent.

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