Celebrating 20 years of sports venue design

The Buro Happold Sports Stadia and Entertainment Venue team is celebrating 20 years of great design projects.

Based in our Bath office, this highly skilled group of 40 engineers and venue design managers has successfully delivered over 70 sports projects in the UK and internationally. Their work includes 15 major stadia and arena facilities, and four Olympic venues.

We are very proud of our portfolio and the relationships we have built with collaborators and clients – we love working in the sector and meeting the challenges our projects bring
Rob Amphlett, UK Sports and Entertainment Sector Leader

Buro Happold’s focus on the sports sector started in the late 1990s with projects for Bath Rugby and Hampshire County Cricket Club. This was followed by concept design for the University of Arizona Stadium in the US and Emirates Stadium for Arsenal Football Club.

Emirates Stadium was the breakthrough project for Buro Happold in this sector. This established our credentials in being able to deliver complex stadia design from initial conception through to full construction and completion. From the start, our team brought different thinking to the project that was focused on outcomes. At bid stage – while our competitors were discussing their detailed engineering knowledge – Buro Happold talked to the client about the quality of their grass.

Image: Hufton Crow

At the time, Arsenal was renowned for having the best pitch in the football league. However, a drawback of building a bigger stadium is that the overall structure tends to be higher, less sunlight reaches the grass and quality is compromised. Our team described how we could build the stadium with the front edge of the roof no higher than Arsenal’s existing ground, which safeguarded the playing surface. This resonated with the client, we won the commission and delivered what we promised. The pitch is still considered one of the best in the football league.

Following completion of the Emirates in 2006, we continued to deliver iconic stadia and venues including the London 2012 Olympic Stadium, the O2 Arena and the Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, which was a showcase venue for the 2014 Winter Olympics and 2018 FIFA World Cup. Our current UK portfolio includes projects for Tottenham Hotspur FC and Lord’s Cricket Ground; international projects include a new arena in Munich and a Major League Soccer stadium in Cincinnati.

Key to delivering our current projects has been our investment in computational design processes and development of cutting-edge tools
Rob Amphlett

“Key to delivering our current projects has been our investment in computational design processes and development of cutting-edge tools,” says Rob Amphlett. “However, this is backed up by our deep understand of sports venue design built up over the last 20 years. The solutions for these projects can seem obvious, but there are subtleties and nuances that can catch you out if you are not aware of them. You don’t know what you don’t know if you haven’t done it before!”

With 20 years of sports projects completed and a strong pipeline offering fresh challenges, our sports venue design team looks forward to sharing their expertise with friends, collaborators and new clients throughout 2019 and beyond.

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