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Scrapped Stadium Design at Issue

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

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Renowned architect Zaha Hadid is calling for Japanese government officials to reconsider her controversial, 252 billion yen ($1.9 billion) design for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics stadium.

Japan's Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, ditched the London-based architect’s design for the venue citing cost concerns in July, reports relate.

In a 23-minute-long video released Wednesday (Aug. 26), Zaha Hadid Architects describe the firm’s design for the New National Stadium and argue that starting the design competition and bidding process over will not save Japanese taxpayers money in the long run.

“The [firm’s] design should be seen as the only way to achieve value for money in the market,” the firm states in the video.

ZHA won the design competition for the stadium in 2012, a year before Tokyo won the bid to host the games, according to Dezeen. The complex was set for completion in 2019.

Japanese government officials and architects there have criticized Hadid’s design from the outset, arguing, for example, that the venue would be much too large for the urban space.

Cost Estimates Double

Moreover, the ultimate decision to scrap the design was based on spiraling project costs which have almost doubled from original estimates, according to reports.

“We have decided to go back to the start on the Tokyo Olympics-Paralympics stadium plan, and start over from zero,” the prime minister said July 17, according to The Guardian.

The architect has blamed the rising cost of building in Tokyo for the price surge, according to statements made on the designer's website.

Zaha Hadid Architects
© Zaha Hadid Architects

London-based Zaha Hadid Architects won the competition to design the stadium in 2012.

Further, the firm said warnings over the ballooning costs were ignored.

“Our warning was not heeded that selecting contractors too early in a heated construction market and without sufficient competition would lead to an overly high estimate of the cost of construction,” the firm said in a statement issued July 28.

The cost of building in Tokyo has increased 25 percent in the past two years, Dezeen reported.

Alternatives to Starting Over

In the architecture firm’s video, ZHA argues that introducing more competition between the contractors would better address cost concerns rather than starting the design from scratch.

"A new concept design submitted with a price cannot be trusted after five months of design work,” the firm says in the video.

“It takes much more time to determine a design with complete price certainty, and by the time that certainty is achieved it will be too late. The Japanese public will get less value for money with this approach."

Modifications to Hadid’s stadium design were also suggested; however, the firm notes that the design can’t be changed unless or until the objectives of the competition brief change, such as seating capacity criteria.


Tagged categories: Aesthetics; Architects; Architecture; Cost-savings; Design; Government; Stadiums/Sports Facilities; Zaha Hadid

Comment from Richard Saylor, (9/1/2015, 11:52 AM)

My suggestion would be to hold a conference involving the design team, the government officials or panel making a go/no go decision, and as many relevant bidders- past and possible future- in something like a week or two week long review of the necessary design parameters and funding, and at the end of the conference make a mandatory decision on whether to accept the present design, modify it, or start over- if new parameters can be determined that would clearly result in reducing costs but keeping within construction and acceptance guidelines and timeframe points. In my opinion you now have barely enough time to accept a design, call for and accept accept bids, and begin construction. Again, in my opinion you'll need to determine a project footprint and grading plans, and continue design and bidding refinement while proceeding with site development ASAP, or you won't make it in time. In any event right or wrong, you really need to do this now, not later. Respectfully submitted, Richard Saylor Saylor Architects Monterey, California saylor@redshift.com

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