29/10/2015: IAKS All Time Award for the Berlin Olympic Stadium

On October 27, the Olympic Stadium and gmp were honored

Competition 1998 – 1st Prize
Design Volkwin Marg and Hubert Nienhoff
Design team Annette Menting, Nicolas Pomränke, Andreas Wosnik
Managers of planning partnership Kemal Akay, Uwe Grahl
General project management Jochen Köhn, Annette Menting (until June 2000)
Project managers, roof Martin Glass, Ivanka Perkovic
Project team, roof Katja Bernert, Dagmar Weber, Ralf Sieber
Project manager, interior fixtures and redevelopment Alexander Buchhofer
Project team, interior fixtures and redevelopment Silvia Schneider, Anja Hassler, Elke Hoffmeister, Sven Schmedes, Igor Markov, Radoslaw Pilarski, Beate Kling, Holger Betz, Elisabeth Menne, Birgit Ricke, Stephanie Hübsch
Structural engineers Krebs und Kiefer, Darmstadt/Berlin; schlaich bergermann und partner, Stuttgart
Technical building equipment Schmidt Reuter Partner, Hamburg; IGH, Berlin
Light design Conceptlicht Angerer, Traunreut, Edgar Schlaefle
Client City of Berlin
Concessionaire and general contractor Walter Bau-AG associated with DYWIDAG
Construction period 2000–2004
Seats 74,475

On 27 October the International Association for Sports and Leisure Facilities (IAKS) awarded an All Time Award for the Berlin Olympic Stadium at Koelnmesse’s Congress Centre North. The award was given in honor of both the operating company, Olympiastadion Berlin GmbH, and the designers of the extensive conversion (2000 to 2004), gmp – Architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners, Berlin.

The stadium is part of the Olympic Park in Berlin, one of the most important sports complexes worldwide. It was built to a design by Werner March on the occasion of the 1936 Olympic Summer Games. Similar to the other buildings on the 130 hectare site of the former „Reichssportfeld“, March’s pattern language was inspired by ancient Greek style. The oval of the arena, which is open at the top, is enclosed by a monumental shell limestone façade. On the occasion of the 1974 FIFA World Cup, the Olympic Stadium was partially roofed over; during the conversion and refurbishment from 2000, this roof was replaced by new roofing in preparation for the 2006 FIFA World Cup.

The demanding task facing gmp – Architects von Gerkan, Marg and Partners was to carefully refurbish the building, which was listed as a historic monument, while also modernizing it into a multi-functional arena in accordance with modern requirements. The construction and design of the roof constituted a key element in the overall design. In order to be able to keep open the historic opening of the listed monument (with all its political implications) towards the adjoining Maifeld sports ground to the west, with its bell tower and Langemarckhalle (a National Socialist reference to the idea of a burial temple which, since 2006, has been used as a documentation center with a permanent exhibition entitled „Olympic Park – Historic Site“ and designed by gmp Architects), the designers decided against a closed ring construction. Instead, a steel tube space frame structure with a span of 68 meters and bearing on 20 very slender tree columns around the upper spectator ring covers all of the nearly 75,000 seats. With its delicate construction and choice of material – the skin of the roof is formed by a translucent membrane – the roof is in deliberate contrast to the solid structure of the historic building.

The lower spectator ring was completely renewed, being placed closer to the edge of the pitch, and supplemented with VIP boxes. Thanks to its large lounge area and a show kitchen which was added in 2012, the Berlin Olympic Stadium has proved popular not only for large sporting events, concerts and a Papal mass (2011), but also as a modern and technically extremely well equipped venue for several hundred events annually, including film and television productions. It is even possible to celebrate weddings in the stadium as there is a chapel for up to 70 persons, also designed by gmp Architects, which is also used by athletes and coaches for personal prayer prior to competitions.

Ecological aspects play an important role in the operation of the stadium. As a result of the conversion, Olympiastadion Berlin GmbH achieves annual savings of 1.5 million kilowatt hours of electricity, 600,000 kilowatt hours of thermal energy and 20,000 cubic meters of water. This means that carbon dioxide emissions could be reduced by about 915 metric tons per year.

Success in the competition for the design of the Berlin Olympic Stadium in 1998 was gmp Architects’ opening to further sports venue designs. The historic arena was one of three (besides the Commerzbank Arena in Frankfurt am Main and the RheinEnergie Stadium in Cologne) designed by gmp for the 2006 FIFA World Cup. Since then, the architects have demonstrated their competence in the design of this type of building with numerous additional stadium projects such as those for the 2010 FIFA World Cup in South Africa, the 2014 World Cup in Brazil and the UEFA 2012 European Championship (in Poland and Ukraine). In China they completed the Shanghai Oriental Sports Centre and the Universiade Sports Center amongst other projects, and construction on the SIP Sports Center in Suzhou has just started.

Marcus Bredt

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