This summer’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro throws the spotlight on Brazil’s venue build-up and delivery programme. We catch up with Peter Ayres of AECOM, to review the Masterplan of the Barra Olympic Park and the design of all the major venues in the park, along with an update on construction progress, and plans for the post games legacy.
“AECOM’s Global Sports business has a particular expertise in staging major events, with the ability to draw on very significant internal resources to provide a fully integrated approach to the most challenging projects”, says Ayres. “This multidisciplinary approach helps us understand how major events like the Olympics and FIFA World Cup are just as much about helping transform a city with a long term legacy as they are about fan and athlete experience”.
This central principle defined AECOM’s competition submission in winning the mandate for master-planning the main Barra site, set against the stunning mountains and lagoons of Jacarepagua to the South West of Rio. It drew on the considerable experience from the same AECOM design team which had already played a similar role in the highly successful 2012 London Olympics.
The scheme and the formal brief was developed with Mayor Eduardo Paes and his team. As well as helping to deliver a successful and memorable Games – the first ever in South America – the Mayor wanted to ensure the legacy plan made a significant contribution to his vision for the development of the western expansion of the city on a site once used for Formula One motor racing to benefit all the residents. It was essential to take an integrated approach from the start, looking not just years, but a whole generation ahead.
This included developing the concept and schematic design for each of the 9 venues that will host 16 Olympic and 9 Paralympic sports, and the main press centre and International Broadcast Centre. It required consideration of everything involved in the design of the event on the 120 hectare (300 acre) site. And then re-tooling the area and facilities into a sustainable legacy offering maximum value for the host city.
There were three main elements to the project: design of the Barra da Tijuca Olympic Park in preparation for the Games; the plan for the transition stage, the five to seven year period post the Games; and the delivery of the legacy masterplan demonstrating economic, environmental and social sustainability development around the permanent structures.
“AECOM is proud of its involvement with Rio”, says Ayres. “We had a strong concept at the competition stage and that concept has been strong enough to withstand all the changes over the years; we have been able to help the Mayor deliver on his legacy promises including that of an elite sports high school and training facilities for future Olympians; but above all, we’re proud because we’ve helped Rio stage the Games and we believe they will be a great success in a stunning and beautiful setting, hosted by a nation that adores sport of all kinds.”
Although the design has continued to evolve, the winning masterplan, which is based on a central spine running north-south and connecting all the venues, remains at the heart of the plan – testimony to its creative appeal and practical robustness.