Zaha Hadid stadium will now cost £268m and extra heating may be needed
The cost of the Olympic aquatic centre has risen by a further £11m because of attempts to speed up construction to make up for earlier delays, and new concerns over whether it’ll be warm enough for competitors.
The stadium, designed by architect Zaha Hadid and being built by Balfour Beatty, will now cost £268m, more than £50m more than the £214m anticipated in the Olympic Delivery Authority’s baseline budget, and almost four times the £75m cost in the London olympics bid.
The new costings were revealed by outgoing ODA chief executive David Higgins as he launched the latest quarterly review of progress on the project. This also revealed that the decision to remove the planned “digital wrap” around the stadium, alongside other savings, now meant the flagship Sir Robert McAlpine scheme will be completed to the original £496m budget.
In total the anticipated final cost of the games fell by £29m over the last three months.
Higgins defended the cost rises to the aquatic centre, saying half of the cost was needed to get the project back on time after the construction of the complex roof took “months and months” longer than expected. He said: “We have to make sure we hit our July 2011 deadline, so there are inevitably acceleration costs after the roof took months and months longer than expected. We’ve had to change the work sequence.”
In addition he said that half of the extra costs came from concerns that the air temperature in the pool might not be warm enough for competition, particularly for the Paralympics, to be held in September. He said the ODA was investigating the possibility of installing extra heating in the stadium to keep it warm enough.
Higgins, launching the report alongside Olympics minister Hugh Robertson, also defended the decision to scrap plans to surround the main stadium in a colourful “digital wrap” during games time. Higgins said it was still possible the wrap might happen if a private sponsor was found for it.
The decision to scrap the £7m wrap has been strongly criticised by the stadium’s architect Rod Sheard, from architect Populous, who said it would affect sporting conditions in the stadium and was essential to the design. The ODA denies the wrap’s removal will affect sporting conditions.
Robertson said: “There’s a live debate in the architectural community. I’ve had my ear bent by both sides of the argument. The crucial thing for me, in an environment where we’re looking to make savings, is that crucially it’s a discussion about architectural merit, not about the operational effectiveness of the stadium.
“If people want a wrap it’s now down to the architectural people and possible sponsors to take it forward.”
The government said there were discussion going on currently regarding possible sponsors, but that a decision on whether to use a wrap did not need to be taken for another year.