Big, bigger and biggest; the London Olympic Park takes shape
Report by CIPR Corporate and Financial Group member Sebastian St. John-Clarke
If you're fond of statistics, then you could do worse than take a bus tour of the Olympic Park which delivers the numbers in (giant) spadefuls. Whether it's the 70m high stadium, with its 14 lighting towers, or the 4,000 trees being planted across the 500 acre site (as big as Hyde Park), the 4,000 relocated newts, or the 200km of underground power cabling, the scale of the project is, literally, Olympian.
For the CIPR's Corporate and Financial Group however, which gathered at the Olympic Park's Pudding Mill entrance on May 4 for its very own, bespoke tour, the statistics taking shape around the media operation proved to be equally awe inspiring. In July 2012, a total of 20,000 members of the media ( journalists, broadcasters and photographers ) will descend on the cavernous International Broadcasting Centre (IBC) which at 100,000 metres square in size, could hold five jumbo jets and will provide the TV viewing for an expected audience of four billion. Utilitarian and 'boxy' in design, the building, supported by 4,500 tonnes of Scunthorpe steel, literally wears its heart on its sleeve, Richard Rogers style, with its operating plant (such as air conditioning) sited on the outside of the building to reduce the heat inside.
As well as the IBC for the broadcasters, print/online journalists will base themselves at the Main Press Centre, while the victorious and the vanquished athletes will be subjected to press interrogation at the 700 seater Press Conference Room which, together with the Catering Village, all sited to the west of the Olympic Park, makes this the first Games where all the media operation will be situated around a single site.
During the tour, John Rowlinson, Head of Broadcast for LOCOG, also gave the Group an insight into how the media operation will run with the Olympic Broadcast Service responsible for bringing together the live broadcast feeds, from all the sporting venues which are then distributed to each country's TV rights holder(s). In one room alone in the IBC, 300 TV screens will feature all those live feeds for broadcasters to choose from.
A lasting legacy
The emphasis on producing a sustainable legacy is strongly in evidence and there is no doubt that a successful regeneration of one of London's most industrially contaminated sites is well underway if the landscaping around the cleaned up waterways is anything to go by. With 75p in every £ spent on the legacy of the Games, the Olympic Park looks set to be a successful feature of this part of London for many years to come.
On the menu
And so, the big question, will it all be finished in time? It certainly looked well advanced and all the major venues look near completion, with one notable exception. As the CFG's tour bus rounded the corner, a digger was seen breaking ground for the most critical piece of the whole media operation: the Catering Village. Expected to serve up to 4,000 meals at any one time to the assembled media, let's hope that the catering buildings are up and running in time. After all, everyone knows that the press corps marches (and sometimes even writes) on a well-fed stomach.
Thanks to Hazel Peacock (ODA), Colin Naish (ODA) and John Rowlinson (LOCOG) for giving us such a privileged insight into the Games preparation.