Japan's Scaled-Down Olympics
Tokyo's Olympic hosting duties are still seven years away. But already, Japan is doing what it can to keep the costs down, a marked contrast to the hoopla that surrounded Beijing and London's building spree.
Exhibit A: Last week, Hakubun Shimomura, Japan's minister for education, sports and science, told Parliament that Zaha Hadid's bold Olympic stadium would have to be scaled back. Officials estimated that the 80,000 seat stadium would cost $3 billion to build, not the originally discussed $1.3 billion.
Shimomura deemed that "too massive a budget," and called for a scaled-down plan.
The decision to scale back comes after prominent Japanese architects gathered earlier this month to voice their concerns over not only the cost, but the size of the project and the damage it could inflict on its neighbors. The symposium was initiated by 1993 Pritzker Prize winning architect Fumihiko Maki.
Those who attended the symposium agreed that Hadid's stadium, which will be situated in a prominent downtown park, needs to be more environmentally sustainable and shrunk down for the sake of neighborhood context. Sou Fujimoto one of the architects to attend the symposium, insists he is "not fighting Zaha" but tells the Architects' Journal that "the design could be better."
Shimonura appears to have heard the message, telling officials that "urban planning must fit the people's needs."
According to the Associated Press, Shimonura emphasized that the basic design concept will remain the same and that the stadium will still meet all the requirements necessary for hosting Olympic events.
Hadid's firm is no stranger to inflated Olympic project price tags. Her aquatic center for the 2012 Olympics in London was originally projected budgeted at $118 million but cost over $400 million by the time it was built, drawing the ire of UK officials. Hadid's office has previously said that they're willing to discuss design changes. As of now, construction is still scheduled to begin in 2014.