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London 2012: two steps closer to completion

John Armitt

Olympic Delivery Authority chairman fills us in on how the Olympic Park is rapidly taking shape

It is just a couple of months since I last wrote for NCE and the Olympic Park landscape continues to be transformed on a daily basis - new bridges have been lifted into place, utilities infrastructure has taken shape, the Village is starting to rise out of the ground and the main stadium continues to make its mark on the east London skyline.

This week will also see two of the other biggest projects on the Park reach crucial milestones and present us with
some of our biggest challenges to date.

For the Aquatics Centre, work starts this week to lift into place the huge 2,800t wave-shaped roof. The sweeping structure is at the heart of Zaha Hadid’s iconic design and will ensure the Aquatics Centre becomes the most striking piece of architecture in the Olympic Park and a stunning main gateway to the games.

The roof lift presents us with the biggest engineering and construction challenge of the Olympic Park big build. Some 15 steel trusses, up to 120m long, fabricated in Newport from plate rolled in Gateshead, Motherwell and Scunthorpe, will be connected together 20m off the ground and supported by three rows of temporary trestles. Once completed and supported by the two northern cores the roof structure will be lifted 2m above the southern
wall, the temporary trestles removed and the full 160m long roof frame lowered on to its permanent southern roof
Another key challenge will be the construction of the Velodrome in the north of the Park where building work
got underway this week. Like the Aquatics Centre, striking architecture is at the heart of the Velodrome plans and
the distinct double-curved roof will help the Velodrome become another landmark new venue for London.

The Velodrome is on the site of the former West Ham tip which presents some challenging ground conditions.
The first stage of construction work involves a complex network of more than 900 piles driven up to 26m beneath
the ground to form the foundations of the venue. I am confident the world-class contractors we have onboard will put us in good shape to tackle this important first stage of the Velodrome project.

Striking architecture and challenging engineering are not the only similarities between the Velodrome and Aquatics Centre - the use of timber is also a running theme and both venues offer a great chance to bring sustainable
timber into our designs.

For the Aquatics Centre, the ceiling of the venue will feature wooden cladding which will sweep outside to cover the
northern roof supports.

For the Velodrome, the outside of the building will be clad in 288 prefabricated timber panels - a striking external design feature that is intended to reflect the drama and geometry of the timber track inside the venue. With the timber track itself, our designers are aiming to build the fastest track in the world so I look forward to seeing them rise to the challenge in the years ahead!

So it is a big week for the project as we reach two significant new milestones - I look forward to updating you on our progress as we tackle some of the biggest challenges we have faced in the project so far.

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