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Learning the lessons of legacy building

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The Olympic project faces many challenges but perhaps the greatest is the legacy it leaves.

Right from the outset the delivery authority made clear that it didnt have the money, time or human resources to rival events in Beijing.

Instead it opted to define the Games by a sustainable agenda that it claimed would benefit East London and the UK for years to come.

Now, as the Park nears a key milestone with one stadium ready and others due to complete this summer, what are the lessons of legacy building so far?

The first is to have a plan and stick to it.

Although mightily impressive, London didnt want another Birds Nest. The venues were always designed to be temporary so it opted for fabric wraps instead. The wraps, some 30m high and 1km long, will dress the stadia for six weeks before being stripped back for more permanent use.

The second lesson is to practice what you preach. During construction no cars are allowed, only motorbikes and bicycles. Workers are encouraged to take the train and come the Games visitors, too, will be bussed in and out on high-speed Javelin trains (only VIPs get a free pass to the multi-story round the back!).

On site everything is geared towards greening the Park. Over 4.5m tonnes of soil have been washed ready for use; 97% of materials reclaimed from demolition have either been reused or recycled; 4,000 trees will be planted, and a total of 8.35km of waterways will enter into use.

And even high-profile failures, like the giant wind turbine at Eton Manor, have spawned a number of alternative green initiatives, as the Parks authorities look to meet its renewable targets.

The final point is to sell the benefits to anyone wholl listen.

Over 100,000 people have taken the tour so far and who knows, in 100 years time they may still be selling tickets!


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  1. Paul Naybour
    Paul Naybour 15 March 2011, 05:30 PM

    As I read this I am just looking you the APM criteria for complex projects in the competence framework. Interestingly the first criteria looks at project objectives. The objectives for complex projects are vague, with many conflicting and hidden objectives. They also tend to be very interdependent and multidimensional. Building the Olympic legacy must tick all of these boxes for a complex project, perfect for anyone applying for RPP, but very difficult to grasp what exactly the legacy objectives are.  Well done to anyone delivering the legacy projects for 2012 they need all the encouragement and support we can give them. So far the programme seems to be a shining example of project success. Fingers crossed.