NEWS

Calatrava project costs to soar

An ambitious project by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava to transform the decaying Athens Olympic Stadium into an architectural showpiece for the 2004 Games appears to be in jeopardy because of the lack of specialists able to do the work and because of the financial demands of contractors, yesterday’s Kathimerini reported. The project was revealed to the public in January. It will involve the construction of a partial roof over the main stadium, a new roof for the cycling track and covered walkways linking the complex’s main venues. The work was budgeted at 191 million euros, but this is now set to balloon to double or triple that amount, meaning that it will be the most expensive project, in real terms, that the architect will have worked on around the world – including the recently completed Milwaukee art museum. Calatrava is said to be in a quandary, as this is the first time that he has faced the problem of budget overruns to such an extent. According to the initial announcements, work would have to start on the project this month, in order for it to be completed by April 2004. Calatrava brought to Athens three «files» of studies for the project, each said to weigh a ton. The work is to be divided into two parts, one being the aesthetic upgrading of the Olympic complex, with sweeping expanses of soaring steel and walkways through greenery beside streams. The other aspect is aimed at increasing the functional aspects of the venues. No decision has been made yet on contractors for the work. But it appears that the main difficulties are the lack of experience in Greece of working on high-quality architectural projects, contractors’ high profit margins and the looming deadlines.