The challenges and successes of leading the UK’s most high-profile construction project have been revealed by the man charged with getting London ready for the biggest show on earth.

Speaking at the Royal Academy of Engineering’s 2011 Lloyd’s Register Educational Trust Lecture, John Armitt CBE FREng, Chairman of the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), described the various engineering and construction challenges that were overcome to transform a patch of East London waste land into what will become the thriving hub of the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

In a wide-ranging lecture held on Thursday 1 December, Mr Armitt discussed every phase of development, a project which he described as twice the size of Heathrow’s Terminal 5 that had to be completed in half the time.

He talked about the initial ‘Dig, Design and Demolish’ phase, which involved more than 200 buildings on the site being pulled down, a huge drive for environmental sustainability through the decontamination and re-use of soil on the brownfield land and the cleaning of the River Lee, which runs through the site.

He then talked about the ‘Big Build’ phase, which saw infrastructure such as sewers, an on-site power station, the Olympic village and a network of roads and bridges constructed – all designed for use during the Games and then as a legacy once the Olympics had finished.

Only once these essential aspects had been completed could the most visible parts of the operation become a reality, including the main stadium, aquatics centre and velodrome. And far from being a one-site operation, Mr Armitt also discussed the challenges of preparing other sites for Olympic use, both inside and outside London.

Reflecting on his four years at the helm of the ODA, Mr Armitt said: “There are only 35 weeks to go before the opening ceremony. All of the venues are complete and most of the athletes’ village has been handed over to the London Organising Committee of the Olympic Games (LOCOG). The ODA’s task is largely complete and we now hand the baton over to LOCOG, for whom the next eight months will be a period of intense and accelerating activity.

“There is much to be done but I am confident that in July next year, London will be ready to host the greatest show on earth.”

Read John Armitt’s full lecture (894.03 KB)

Watch the video from this event

Notes for editors

  1. The Royal Academy of Engineering

    Founded in 1976, The Royal Academy of Engineering promotes the engineering and technological welfare of the country. Our fellowship – comprising the UK’s most eminent engineers – provides the leadership and expertise for our activities, which focus on the relationships between engineering, technology, and the quality of life. As a national academy, we provide independent and impartial advice to Government; work to secure the next generation of engineers; and provide a voice for Britain’s engineering community.
  2. The Lloyd’s Register Educational Trust

    The Lloyd’s Register Educational Trust (The LRET) is an independent charity that was established in 2004. Its principal purpose is to support advances in transportation, science, engineering and technology education, training and research worldwide for the benefit of all. It also funds work that enhances the safety of life and property at sea, on land and in the air.

    The LRET focuses on four categories:
  • pre-university education: through appropriate organisations (but not individual schools), promotes careers in science, engineering and technology to young people, their parents and teachers;
  • university education: provides funding for undergraduate and post-graduate scholarships and awards at selected universities and colleges (does not fund students directly);
  • vocational training and professional development: supports professional institutions, educational and training establishments working with people of all ages;
  • research: funds existing or new centres of excellence at institutes and universities.

For more information please contact

Ed Holmes on 0207 766 0655