LOR signs £600m main works construction contract to deliver new Olympia

14.05.21

• Laing O’Rourke appointed after successful completion of year-long enabling works
• Demolition of Olympia Central marks beginning of official construction work to turn historic West London venue into cultural destination
• Trafalgar Entertainment announced as tenants for new theatre – the largest new permanent theatre of its kind to open in London for 45 years

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Yoo Capital and Deutsche Finance International (DFI) – together the investors in and developers of the £1.3 billion cultural regeneration of Olympia – have announced two major project milestones. Demolition of Olympia Central begins, signifying the start of the main construction work, as Trafalgar Entertainment is confirmed as the tenant of the site’s new 1,575-seat theatre, agreeing a 70-year lease.

Work is beginning on a total of seven new buildings – including the previously announced citizenM and Hyatt Regency hotels, plus the 4,400 capacity live music venue that will be run by AEG Presents – and will be completed in 2024.

Olympia Central Hall will be demolished while the iconic structures of Olympia National and Olympia Grand, both Grade II listed, are being incorporated into the site’s overall redevelopment and will continue to host events while works are taking place.

In a deal worth more than £600m, the works will be delivered by Laing O’Rourke following its successful completion of a year’s worth of enabling works on the site. Utilising the company’s Design for Manufacture & Assembly capability, the buildings’ walls and floors, and a large proportion of the M&E services, will be manufactured offsite in their Nottinghamshire and Oldbury factories. This will significantly reduce the number of vehicle movements and operatives on site while at the same time improving safety by taking construction activities into a controlled factory environment.

The developers anticipate a total of 80,000m³ of bulk excavation at the site – the equivalent of 12 Olympic-sized swimming pools. Due to the size of the site and the number of buildings included in the works, construction will utilise a total of 13 tower cranes and 10 hoists. This includes the tower crane currently installed to construct the Olympia West Hall which, at a reach of 75 metres, is the biggest on a non-infrastructure project in the UK.

Lloyd Lee, Managing Partner at YOO Capital, said: “This is an important and historic moment in the redevelopment of Olympia. Olympia Central first opened in 1930 and now we bid farewell as we usher in an exciting new era for the site and London as a whole. Despite the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, works are well on schedule. In fact, from a construction perspective, we have been really fortunate and have taken maximum advantage of the exhibition areas being vacant so everyone on site has been able to spread out and maintain social distancing.”

Gavin Neilan, Co-Founder and Co-Managing Partner of DFI, added: “Our investment into this project was predicated on our conviction that, while Olympia is a hugely important and iconic venue which has a rich and successful 130 year history, it still has tremendous untapped potential.

“Commencing construction today marks a significant step in realising our vision to truly unlock that potential by creating a vibrant new cultural, leisure and business hub for London, where visitors and office workers can enjoy a diverse spectrum of exceptional experiences and companies can showcase their products. The number of exciting and high profile occupiers already signed up and the addition today of Trafalgar as the theatre operator, provide a clear demonstration that our vision to make Olympia’s next 130 years even more successful than its first, is shared.”

Further elements of the development are currently underway, with various enabling works already completed:

  • A new energy centre that provides heating for the whole development and cooling for the exhibition areas is nearing completion
  • Structural strengthening to the West Hall exhibition space, to allow for the two-storey music venue to be constructed above, will be completed in the coming weeks
  • Foundations for the theatre building and Olympia Roof Garden have commenced
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This marks a significant milestone, allowing our team to progress to the main construction work after a year of successfully delivering significant enabling works, through a pandemic. We are proud of our appointment as construction partner. By harnessing our experience of complex and city-shaping projects together with our focus on modern methods of construction, we look forward to delivering this world-class complex for London and bringing Yoo Capital and DFI’s compelling vision to reality.

PAUL MCNERNEY LAING O'ROURKE'S DIRECTOR OF UK BUILDING

Meanwhile, Yoo Capital and DFI have announced a major agreement with premium international live entertainment business, Trafalgar Entertainment, to run the site’s new theatre. It will be the largest new permanent theatre build of its kind to open in London since the National Theatre in 1976. The Olympia venue breaks new ground in theatre design with a stunning, state-of-the-art 1,575 seat auditorium at its heart.

The 14-acre Olympia redevelopment project will create a new cultural hub in West London and is due to be completed in 2024.