Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Olympic pool is sent back for redesign.

Sports: Well the 2012 London Olympics is off to a roaring start as the fight to keep costs down begins.

Plug is pulled on pool as costs go off deep end By John Goodbody THE Government has ordered the Olympic aquatic centre back to the drawing board because the cost of the lavish design, by award-winning architect Zaha Hadid, is almost double the budgeted £75 million. The decision is a hugely embarrassing start to the building of the Olympic facilities. Plans for the aquatic centre have been far advanced because the swimming complex was going to be completed irrespective of whether London won the right to stage the 2012 Games. However, Tessa Jowell, the Olympics Minister, is determined to keep costs down amid fears that the final building bill for the Games will exceed the planned £2.375 billion. The aquatic centre, which consists of two 50-metre pools, with seating for 20,000 spectators, plus a diving pool, is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2008. The dazzling design by Hadid, Britain’s first Pritzker Prize-winning architect, includes an undulating roof, which has been described as being like a manta ray floating over the sea bed. It received plaudits from members of the International Olympic Committee (IOC), before they voted for London to be awarded the Games in Singapore on July 6. However, Jowell, the Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport told Construction News: “I have had to send the designers of the Olympic aquatic centre back to the drawing board because a change in the specification had almost doubled the costs, which is simply unacceptable. “In our bid we pledged that the centre would cost £75 million and that is precisely what we will do, with appropriate allowance for inflation. I cannot give anyone a complete assurance that costs for the 2012 Games will not rise. But what I will do is be absolutely ruthless in ensuring that any potential overspend, no matter how small, is caught early and driven back down wherever possible.” It is understood that some of the increased costs are due to inflation over the next three years and that no criticism is intended of Hadid. Last February, the London Development Agency (LDA) chose Hadid, who also designed the Mind Zone for the Millennium Dome, as the architect of the swimming and diving complex.

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