ZHA Bows Out of Olympic Stadium Bid


Zaha Hadid has given up her quest to design the Tokyo 2020 Olympics Stadium.

The renown architect announced her decision in a Sept. 18 statement less than a month after asking Japanese government officials to reconsider a controversial, 252 billion yen ($1.9 billion) design for the proposed National Stadium. Officials scrapped her original design in July.

“It is disappointing that the two years of work and investment in the existing design for a new National Stadium for Japan cannot be further developed to meet the new brief through the new design competition,” ZHA wrote on its website.

Partnership Dissolved

After the Japanese government ditched the London-based architect’s design, ZHA released a video describing that design and arguing that starting bidding from scratch would not save taxpayers money.

According to Architectural Record, the firm then teamed up with Japanese architecture and engineering firm Nikken Sekkei to develop a new design.

But, AR said, the partnership was unsuccessful because neither company could find a contractor willing to do the job.

“Nikken Sekkei and ZHA are prepared and able to deliver a cost-effective Stadium that meets the revised brief, is ready in good time for the 2020 Games and provides a new home for sport in Japan for generations to come,” the companies wrote in their statement.

“While the current competition is closed to the existing design team we stand ready to use the wealth of detailed knowledge and expertise, built up through the thousands of hours dedicated to the project, to assist the National and Tokyo Governments and Japanese people deliver a Stadium fit to welcome the world in 2020 and go on to host national, international and community events for the next 50-100 years.”

Problems Started Early

As previously reported, Japanese officials have been unhappy with ZHA’s design from the beginning.

One of the issues was the size of the proposed design in the small urban space, which Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said was much too large. Spiraling costs of the project were also a concern, according to previous reports.

In response, ZHA reduced the size of the original design, according to AR. But that did not appeal to what had become a growing number of architects opposed to its development.

ZHA won the design competition for the stadium in 2012, which was a year before Tokyo won the bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games.

“What remains is a dull, slow form,” said architect Arata Isozak, according to AR. “If the stadium gets built the way it is, Tokyo will surely be burdened with a gigantic white elephant.”

ZHA won the design competition for the stadium in 2012, which was a year before Tokyo won the bid to host the 2020 Olympic Games. It was scheduled to be completed by 2019, according to previous reports.

Yahoo! Sports said Japanese architects Kengo Kuma and Toyo Ito have announced their plans to enter the bidding.

Expensive Games

Meanwhile, Construction Dive reported that ZHA’s stadium design is just one part of the Japanese government’s re-evaluation of its spending to host the Olympic Games. The latest cost estimates for the Games have tripled to $16.7 billion, it said.

Although cost overruns for Game-host cities are not unusual—the 1976 Games in Montreal were more than 750 percent higher than initial cost estimates—the costs for Japan come at a time when Japan is trying to reign in an out-of-control debt, Construction Dive said.


Tagged categories: Architects; Architecture; Asia Pacific; Building Envelope; Commercial / Architectural; Designers; Project Management; Stadiums/Sports Facilities; Zaha Hadid

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