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Populous board members. From left to right. Mike Trice (director), Rod Sheard (co-chairman & founder), Peter Rigby (co-chairman), Christopher Lee (managing director), Nick Reynolds (director), Ben Vickery (director )

Populous has announced that Peter Rigby, formerly Chief Executive of Informa Plc, is to join the company as co-chairman of its operations in Europe, the Middle East and Africa. In addition, senior principal Christopher Lee has been promoted to Managing Director.

Rigby joins existing chairman, founder and senior principal Rod Sheard in overseeing the development of Populous’ growing business in EMEA.  Populous states that the combination of Rigby’s proven track record for identifying commercial opportunities and partnerships, with Sheard’s experience as one of the world’s leading architects in sports and entertainment, will help it meet the growing demand for its design expertise.

An exceptional business leader and strategist, Rigby’s 30 year career and leadership at Informa, the international publishing, business information and event business, saw the value of the company increase dramatically to a market capitalisation of £3bn.

Lee has worked for Populous in Australia, the United States and Europe and been involved in the design of more than 30 stadia including the ANZ Stadium for the Sydney 2000 Olympics, Arsenal’s Emirates Stadium in London and the Estadio das Dunas for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. He is currently leading the company’s projects in Qatar and for Tottenham Hotspur Football Club.

Commenting on the appointments, Sheard said:

Looking ahead, we want to continue our focus on excellence and innovation. We are structuring our business to best support our clients’ growing needs; to be able to work in diverse markets and to stay ahead of market demands.

I have known Peter personally for many years and admired the way he steered Informa’s growth into a hugely successful global media group. I have no doubt that his enthusiasm, enterprise and strategic counsel will help Populous maintain and develop its leading position in the design of world-class facilities and events.

Our success has been built on designing venues that draw people together for truly memorable experiences. No one understands that better than Christopher Lee, who alongside our highly experienced team of senior principals, has played a big part in the growth of our European operations.

The full EMEA Board (pictured) comprises senior principals Ben Vickery, Christopher Lee, Mike Trice, Nicholas Reynolds and Rod Sheard.  Together they have worked on many iconic and well-loved venues including Wembley, Emirates, the Millennium and Aviva stadiums, Wimbledon, Ascot, the O2 Arena, Silverstone and both the Sydney and London Olympics.

Last year, five venues designed by Populous hosted matches in the 2015 Rugby World Cup. Opened in January, Parc Olympique Lyonnais will host the final of the rugby Challenge and Championship Cups in May as well as five matches of the European Championships.

Projects being undertaken by Populous include the new stadium, leisure and community facilities for Tottenham Hotspur F.C; an elite and community training centre for Queen’s Park Rangers; a flexible 12,000 capacity Arena in Bristol; the Circuit of Wales motorsport and leisure precinct in South Wales; the Lord’s Masterplan and Warner Stand, and a new home for French Rugby near Paris.  The practice is also putting the finishing touches to the transformation of the Populous-designed London Olympic Stadium, for it to become the new home of UK athletics and West Ham United F.C.

EMEA operations have recently been extended with the opening of an office in Doha to facilitate the delivery of projects for the 2022 FIFA World Cup in Qatar as well as the strategic 2015 merger with London-based interiors firm Jump Studios.

Zaha Hadid Architects have released the following statement on the new Japan National Stadium:

“Our teams in Japan and the UK feel it is necessary to set the record straight on the Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) design for the new National Stadium for Japan, which has been developed to the client’s brief and budget. It is also only right that the Japanese people are fully aware of the reasons for the reported budget increase and, with exactly five years to go until the Opening Ceremony of the Tokyo 2020 Games, the risks involved with delaying the design process and start of construction.

In 2012, ZHA was selected by a jury of architects and other experts in an international competition of 46 entries to design a new National Stadium for Japan, which would be ready to welcome the world to Japan for the Rugby World Cup 2019 and Tokyo 2020 Games. We were attracted to the competition by Japan’s vision for a new National Stadium that was designed with the flexibility to open with these two great events and go on to host national, international, local and community sport and cultural events for the next 50 to 100 years.

The design was developed by a joint venture of leading Japanese design offices led by Nikken Sekkei, with ZHA supervising the design development. The team dedicated thousands of hours to develop a design for a new National Stadium to the brief, requirements and budget of our client, the Japan Sport Council (JSC). At every stage over the two years of development, the design and budget estimates were approved by the JSC. ZHA worked proactively to reduce the estimated cost throughout.

For the first time in the construction of a public building in Japan, a two-stage tender process was used, in which contractors are appointed before being invited to submit cost estimates. As ZHA has considerable experience in this process we advised the JSC that working to an immovable completion deadline, against a backdrop of rocketing annual increases in the cost of building in Tokyo, and in the absence of any international competition, the early selection of a limited number of construction contractors would not lead to a commercially competitive process.

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.

ZHA also proposed to the JSC that, in this uncompetitive context, reductions to the client’s brief for the stadium, architectural specification and contractor costs would achieve a lower construction price. ZHA has always been prepared to work with the JSC to produce a lower cost design at any time. The budget and design was approved by the Government on 7th July and there was no subsequent request to design a lower cost stadium.

In response to the high costs quoted by the construction contractors, ZHA and all of the design team worked hard with the JSC to ensure the developing design was delivered to the brief and budget, coming up with many cost-saving initiatives including further changes to the design. We also provided objective guidance on the standard materials and building techniques required to build the Stadium. In our experience the best way to deliver high-quality and cost-effective projects is for the selected designers to work in collaboration with the construction contractor and client as a single team with a single aim. However, we were not permitted to work with the construction contractors, again increasing the risk of unnecessarily high cost estimates and delays in completion.

On 7th July, a JSC report to the Stadium advisory committee, using figures provided by the appointed construction contractors, incorrectly claimed that the design was responsible for most of the increase in budget. ZHA was not informed in advance of this announcement and we immediately contested this incorrect claim with the JSC. Commentary of the report focused on the steel arches within the design. These arches are not complex and use standard bridge building technology to support the lightweight and strong polymer membrane roof to cover all spectator seats, in addition to supporting the high-specification lighting and services that will enable the Stadium to host many international competitions and events in the future.

The arched roof structure is as efficient as many other major stadia in Japan and the arches allowthe roof to be constructed in parallel with the stadium seating bowl, saving crucial construction time in comparison to a roof supported from the seating bowl, which can only be built after the bowl has been completed. The design and engineering teams in Japan confirmed the arches supporting the roof should cost 23 billion yen (less than 10% of the approved budget).

The increase in estimated budget reported by the JSC is in fact due to the inflated costs of construction in Tokyo, a restricted and an uncompetitive approach to appointing construction contractors and a restriction on collaboration between the design team and appointed construction contractors, not the design.

The current building boom in Tokyo increasing construction demand, a limited labour supply and the yen’s significant drop in value greatly increasing the price of imported raw materials have all contributed to Tokyo’s construction costs growing dramatically since 2012/2013 when the new National Stadium project was first announced and Tokyo was awarded the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Between July 2013 and July 2015, Tokyo construction costs increased by an average of 25% and are forecast to increase at a similar rate for the next four years.

Starting the design process again does not tackle any of the fundamental issues that have led to an increased estimate in budget for the National Stadium, which could in fact become even more problematic due to the significant further delay in starting building. Construction costs will continue to rise towards the immovable deadline of the Tokyo 2020 Games Opening Ceremony in exactly five years.

In addition to increasing design and construction costs, due to the rising cost of building in Tokyo, further delays and a rushed design process, led by a construction contractor, risk producing a lower standard National Stadium with limited future usage. Other examples around the world show us that a lower quality stadium could require substantial further investment to be converted for long-term use after 2020, when construction costs will be even higher.

The public, Government and design team have invested in a design that can be delivered through a more competitive procurement process and collaborative approach from construction contractors, within the budget now proposed by the Government and in time to host the Rugby 2019 World Cup.

We have always been, and still are, prepared to use the expertise and knowledge that has been developed to work with the JSC to produce a lower cost design to a change in specification.

Ten days after receiving formal approval of the design, ZHA learned through news reports of the cancellation of the commitment to deliver the approved design for the new National Stadium and commitment for the venue to be ready in time to host the Rugby World Cup 2019. Subsequently, we received a brief official notification from the Japan Sport Council of their cancellation of the contract to design the New National Stadium in Tokyo.

ZHA remain committed to a flexible and cost-effective new National Stadium that would be ready to welcome the world to Japan for the 2019 Rugby World Cup and become a new home for sport in Japan for many generations to come. The Japanese people, Government and design teams in Japan and the UK have invested a huge amount of time, effort and resources to deliver an adaptable design that can meet the brief and budget set by the Government for a new National Stadium.

To reduce the risk of further increases in costs, the venue not being ready in time for the Tokyo 2020 Games and being of lower quality, the Prime Minister’s review should build on the investment in the detailed design knowledge already established and focus on the need for construction contractors to work in partnership with this expert team.

We have written to the Prime Minister to offer our services to support his review of the project with the current design team. ZHA has also outlined how making use of the significant investment in detailed design work already carried out offers the most cost-effective solution to create the best new National Stadium for the people of Japan for the next 50-100 years.

In the coming weeks we also plan to share, in Japan and across the international design community, the many innovative solutions achieved through the years of work and investment that has gone into the design for the National Stadium.” – Zaha Hadid Architects.


According to a report on the Mail Online today, the official tasked with overseeing construction of Japan’s new National Stadium, the centrepiece of the 2020 Summer Olympics, is set to resign after plans for the arena were scrapped amid an outcry over soaring costs.

The stadium is set to host track and field events, as well as the opening and closing ceremonies, for the 2020 Tokyo Games.

Officials have said the stadium’s original design, by U.K.-based Zaha Hadid, helped Tokyo win the hosting rights in 2013.

However, with the estimated cost climbing to US$2.1bn, almost twice that expected, there has been a backlash in a country still rebuilding from the massive March 2011 earthquake and tsunami that left nearly 20,000 dead.

A competition to choose a new design is set for this autumn/fall, with a decision made and plans due in by the end of the year, though Japan’s Olympics Minister admitted last week nothing had been decided with regard to stadium specifics or cost.

Construction is set to start early next year and finish in the spring of 2020, with the opening ceremony set for July 24. Obviously this plan would leave Japan short of a centrepiece venue for the 2019 Rugby World Cup, which has understandly angered World Rugby.


Image: Courtesy Zaha Hadid Architects

To find out more about the developments at sports venues across the Asia Pacific region, make sure to attend our ‘live’ event, the Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific 2015 conference & exhibition, where all of the top sports architects & designers will be in attendance, along with top-level representatives from sports federations, as well as venue owners & operators. To guarantee your place at this must-attend event, simply visit the website at:


Greenbrier’s Center Court at Creekside grand opening to feature Agassi-Sampras match

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The Greenbrier Resort’s Center Court at Creekside, America’s newest professional outdoor tennis stadium, will be officially unveiled June 20, 2015. Headlining the Grand Opening celebrations is a historic face-off match between longtime pro-tennis rivals Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.

Sampras currently serves as The Greenbrier’s resident Tennis Pro Emeritus, and is among a number of tennis legends, including John McEnroe, Andy Roddick, Tommy Haas and Ivan Lendl, who have played at the resort since the inaugural Greenbrier Champions Tennis Classic in 2012. With such greats as guests, “It was only right that the Greenbrier should have the premier resort tennis stadium in the US to call its own,” said Jim Justice, Owner and Chairman of The Greenbrier.

The match between these Tennis Hall-of-Famers will take place in the state-of-the-art, 2,500-seat stadium designed by Detroit-based ROSSETTI architects.

ROSSETTI’s unique U-shaped bowl configuration takes advantage of a picturesque backdrop of Howard’s Creek, the Allegheny Mountains and the historic Old White TPC Championship golf course. The design also allows for a multi-functional plaza between the Creek and the court, which can accommodate courtside hospitality tents and additional grandstand seating. Featuring 400 corporate loge seats, professional-grade lighting and broadcast-ready media space, Center Court at Creekside elevates The Greenbrier’s top-of-the-line tennis programme to a new level.

President and CEO of ROSSETTI, Matt Rossetti, said:

This was a dream project for us. The intimacy and integration with the landscape is something we’ve discussed for the US Open but we don’t have the natural features to do it authentically. There’s so much character, it’s the ultimate amphitheater. I’m sure our other tennis clients will be envious.


Images courtesy: ROSSETTI

For tickets and more information on the Grand Opening please visit:

ROSSETTI will be showcasing their latest sports venue projects at our ‘live’ event, Stadia & Arena Asia Pacific 2015, which is being held at the Singapore Sports Hub this September, 28-30.

To guarantee your place at this must-attend event – which will feature more than 40 top industry speakers and 50+ industry-leading exhibitors and sponsors – visit the website at:

HOK completes acquisition of 360 Architecture

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HOK announced earlier this week that it has completed the acquisition of Kansas City-based 360 Architecture, a 200-person firm that is a leader in the design of sports, recreation, wellness, entertainment and mixed-use facilities.

The completion of this transaction provides immediate benefits to both firms’ clients through the creation of HOK’s new global Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice and expanded capabilities in Kansas City, Columbus and San Francisco.

Patrick MacLeamy, FAIA, HOK’s chairman and CEO said:

We acquired 360 because we consider them the world’s most innovative designers of stadiums, ballparks, arenas, recreation and wellness centers, and mixed-use entertainment districts. This partnership also enables us to provide design services to all types of clients through new HOK offices in Kansas City and Columbus. It’s a transformative acquisition that will bring significant benefits to our clients and people.

HOK’s new Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice will draw on the firm’s expertise in other markets including Aviation + Transportation, Civic + Cultural, Commercial, Corporate, Education, Government, Healthcare, Hospitality, Justice, Residential, Retail, Science + Technology and Tall Buildings to provide clients with highly integrated solutions.

Brad Schrock, AIA, a former 360 Architecture principal and a new director of HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice, said:

We’re thrilled about leveraging HOK’s worldwide network to expand our sports, recreation and entertainment design practice while offering our clients design leadership in many other markets.

John Rhodes, a director of Sports + Recreation + Entertainment for HOK in London, added:

This acquisition gives our London team immediate access to the world’s most innovative sports, recreation and entertainment designers. We’re tremendously excited about bringing our combined creativity and expertise to our clients.

HOK’s Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice designs mixed-use entertainment districts anchored by sporting venues that promote urban revitalization. As a game changer for cities, this approach is attractive to developers, municipal leaders and other civic-minded stakeholders. One of the group’s best-known projects is the Nationwide Arena District, which helped transform downtown Columbus by catalyzing approximately US$1bn in development around the Nationwide Arena. The team also participated on the design of the Sprint Center and its neighbouring eight-block, mixed-use Kansas City Power and Light District, as well as on Edmonton’s new Rogers Place arena, which will open in 2016 and anchor the Edmonton Arena District that is expected to transform that city’s downtown into a vibrant, dynamic community.

HOK President Bill Hellmuth, AIA commented:

At the heart of our practice is a desire to help create thriving cities and regions. With stadia and arenas hosting more entertainment events, they can act as catalysts to invigorate urban districts or to attract people to a region. These venues need to be integrated with neighborhood facilities including hospitality, retail, residential and office space. With the addition of 360’s team, HOK is one of a handful of firms in the world that can bring highly specialized design leaders in each of these areas to create truly integrated solutions.

Teams from both firms have been working on integration plans since announcing the agreement on August 19, 2014. “We have been focused on ensuring a seamless transition for 360’s people and clients,” said Hellmuth. “This process has confirmed the strong cultural fit between our firms. We both have a passion for design excellence and helping clients succeed.”

HOK’s re-entry into the Sports + Recreation + Entertainment market in 2015 coincides with the celebration of its 60th anniversary. After starting HOK Sport in 1983, the firm became a pioneer in redefining sports facilities and the fan experience. HOK spun off its sports practice in 2008. 360 Architecture was founded in Kansas City in 2004 through a merger of CDFM2 Architecture Inc. and Heinlein Schrock Stearns.

In addition to Schrock, directors of HOK’s global Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice are former 360 Architecture leaders Nate Appleman, AIA, LEED AP, and James Braam, AIA, LEED AP, in Kansas City, and John Rhodes, who joined HOK in early 2014 and is in the London office. Based in Los Angeles, Christopher Lamberth is the director of business development for HOK’s new Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice.

With the finalization of this merger, HOK’s global Sports + Recreation + Entertainment practice is participating on design teams for the Dubai Expo 2020 host venue in the United Arab Emirates; a retractable-roof, multipurpose stadium in Atlanta, which will be home to the National Football League’s Atlanta Falcons and a Major League Soccer expansion team; the proposed St. Louis NFL Stadium on the North Riverfront area of downtown St. Louis; the renovation of Sun Life Stadium for the NFL’s Miami Dolphins; the Rogers Place arena for the National Hockey League’s Edmonton Oilers in Edmonton, Alberta; the AT&T Center renovation for the National Basketball Association’s San Antonio Spurs in San Antonio; the design of Cisco Field, a proposed new ballpark for Major League Baseball’s Oakland Athletics in San Jose, California; a new stadium for MLS’s San Jose Earthquakes; and the redevelopment of Fort Regent on Jersey, the largest of England’s Channel Islands, into a leisure and entertainment venue.


HOK is participating in such projects as the renovation and expansion of MSU’s Davis Wade Stadium (above), as well as on a new stadium for the San Jose Earthquakes (below).

5 San Jose Earthquakes Avaya Stadium_Courtesy of HOK

In the higher education sector, HOK is playing a major role in the design of buildings that promote collegiate athletics, recreation and wellness and an overall healthy student lifestyle. Current and recent projects include Notre Dame University’s Campus Crossroads project in South Bend, Indiana, the Beauchamp Recreation & Wellness Center at the University of Portland in Oregon, and the renovation and expansion of Mississippi State University’s Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Mississippi. The firm recently completed the design of recreation and wellness centers at Auburn University’s main campus in Auburn and at its campus in Montgomery, Alabama. In addition, HOK is involved in creating athletic facility master plans for the University of Missouri and the University of North Carolina.

Past projects in which 360 Architecture has played a significant role include MetLife Stadium, site of the 2014 Super Bowl and home to the NFL’s New York Giants and New York Jets in East Rutherford, New Jersey; Basrah Sports City in Iraq, which includes a 65,000-seat stadium; American Airlines Arena in Miami; and the renovations of the University of Washington Husky Stadium in Seattle and Southern Methodist University’s Moody Coliseum in Dallas.

HOK is a global design, architecture, engineering and planning firm. Through a network of 25 offices worldwide, HOK provides design excellence and innovation to create places that enrich people’s lives and help clients succeed. For five consecutive years, DesignIntelligence has ranked HOK as a leader in sustainable and high-performance design.

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Connect on Twitter: @HOKNetwork


Leading sport architects join forces – AFL and S&P

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Edgbaston cricket stadium is one of AFL's recent sport design projects

Edgbaston cricket stadium is one of AFL’s recent sport design projects

AFL Architects and S&P have merged to form AFLS+P, becoming one of the larger architectural practices in the UK, with offices throughout the UK and Ireland employing more than 100 staff. Recent projects in the sports sector include the London 2012 Aquatics Centre, the Peter Makaba Stadium in South Africa and the Abu Dhabi Sports Village.

Keith Ashton, former director of S&P and now one of the six Principals of AFLS+P, said:

S&P is a well-established, 22-year old business with an extensive track record in sports and leisure.  This merger with AFL Architects adds to our skill base and allows us to offer more services to our existing clients internationally.  All staff at both practices will remain in their current positions and will have the opportunity to work on new and varied projects.

John Roberts, of AFL and now a Principal of AFLS+P, added:

We have been working collaboratively on projects with S&P for three years.  Now, with a highly experienced board, we have become one of the largest architectural practices in our specialist sector, we will embrace new opportunities, seek to drive best practice and innovation in the industry and continue to offer an excellent service to our clients.  Our staff too will have the opportunity to work on new and exciting projects in the UK, and abroad.

By joining forces, they will extend their reach nationally and internationally.  AFLS+P has offices in London, Manchester, Glasgow, Dublin and Doha.  Regional growth will continue in the UK, with a new office in Birmingham in May this year, and internationally, where it will build on work in Russia, Azerbaijan and Doha.

The board of directors of AFLS+P are Keith Ashton and Peter Simpson (S&P), and Martin Morton, Phil Osborne, Garry Rowlands and John Roberts (AFL).