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September 2008 – A lasting legacy

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Britain’s long-standing love affair with the modern Olympics has been given a timely boost by the outstanding performance of our athletes at the Beijing games. Since the first flurry of excitement generated in 2005 by London winning the staging of the 2012 Olympics and Paralympics, the headlines have been mostly about scaling back the original ambitions for building the stadiums and other structures needed to host such a large event. Our news story this month details progress on the sizeable projects that make up the 2012 Olympic project.

UK success on the scale that we have seen at Beijing should hearten everyone involved in the often difficult process of ensuring that London is ready for 2012, including the construction teams who are now gearing up for a major push to get the venues built. The various elements are all falling into place to make London 2012 a games to be proud of.

The Olympics building programme, in the hands of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), has looked like a tough event to be in at times. Construction cost inflation has been high since 2005 and the organisers have been forced to work within tighter budgets than they would perhaps have liked. But the designs that are making it off the drawing board are impressive and represent the biggest sports related construction programme that the UK has ever seen; and will still provide a major platform for steel construction to show what it can do.

The ODA has five priority themes to guide its construction work: health and safety, sustainability, design and accessibility, equality and inclusion, and legacy. The smart money says that selecting steel will prove to have been the best way of meeting these objectives.

Construction has started on the main Olympic Stadium, an 80,000-seat venue that will be scaled back to 25,000 seats after the games thanks to the demountability of steel, ensuring that the legacy is not an underused white elephant. It is not clear yet what bodies will have legacy use of the stadium, but whoever it is will have an attractive, adaptable, flexible stadium in which to show off their sporting prowess. The same is true for the other Olympic structures.

The ODA website acknowledges the contribution that steel will make to the sustainability credentials of the 2012 Olympics, saying that the stadium is highly sustainable as the 10,000t of steel that will be used in it means it will be the lightest Olympic stadium ever. The entire steel construction sector can take pride in the contribution that they are making towards the London Olympics in 2012 being the most sustainable games to date.

Nick Barrett
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