Critics say Olympic stadium is too big

by Masaaki Kameda

Staff Writer

A famed Japanese architect’s criticism of the futuristic-looking national stadium planned for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics is being shared by an increasing number of people who say it’s too big and doesn’t match the surrounding environment.

In the August issue of an architecture journal, Pritzker Prize laureate Fumihiko Maki wrote that the 70-meter-high stadium with total floor space of 290,000 sq. meters is too big for the 11-hectare site in Jingu Gaien Park, which is designated by the Tokyo Metropolitan Government for landscape preservation.

It will be built on the same site as the current, smaller stadium used for the 1964 Olympics.

“Intuition tells me it is a complete mismatch” to build a huge facility on a modest-size site, Maki said in a following interview in the Japan Institute of Architects Magazine.

The planned stadium, featuring a retractable roof, was designed by Briton Zaha Hadid, who won the competition in November. It is to have 80,000 seats, 26,000 more than the current National Stadium, and is slated for completion in time for the Rugby World Cup in 2019.

The gross floor space of the new stadium, possibly including a museum, library and commercial facilities, is about 5.6 times more than the current stadium, which is to be demolished starting in July.

The floor space is also three times larger than that of the main stadium for the 2012 London Olympics, but the site is 30 percent smaller.

Maki also voiced concerns over the high cost of maintaining the ¥130 billion stadium in a nation that faces a dwindling birthrate and aging population.

The 85-year-old architect expressed hope that the stadium plan will be reviewed and that his essay will help raise attention on the issue.

Prompted by the essay, a group of volunteers held a symposium Oct. 11 to discuss possible revisions.

Panelists agreed that a gigantic facility won’t match the landscape of the historic Jingu Gaien area and further discussions are necessary before breaking ground.

  • gnirol

    A topic that should be discussed. Perhaps the goal is to eventually change the surrounding area too, to match the stadium? Did the first skyscraper to go up in Nishi-Shinjuku match the neighborhood? I have another concern. How many marathoners, triathletes, modern pentathletes and their horses and equestrian event horses will collapse in the 35-degree heat? Or is all of Tokyo to become domed at 22 degrees by 2020? We have just celebrated a holiday that occurs when it does because the 1964 Tokyo Olympics started on Oct.10, 1964. October, not July 24th to August 9th. I wonder why they chose October. Just threw a dart at a year-long calendar in 1959 and it accidentally landed on October 10th? Or maybe it was the best time of year in Tokyo for outdoor sports and that was the highest priority. We didn’t have to worry about a Premier League schedule in 1964. We didn’t have to worry about professional anything in 1964. Now it’s all about M-O-N-E-Y , not athlete safety, not even about great performances. How many great performances are going to occur in outdoor sports in 35-degree heat? Anyway, anyone who wants to start a pool to guess the percentage of marathoners who collapse (doesn’t make any difference if the marathon starts at 6 am or 6pm — it’s horrible either because of oppressive heat or oppressive humidity, or both), please lemme know. Thank you for your foresight, both the local organizers and the IOC, including Mr. Rogge, Mr. Bach, Princess Anne, The Grand Duke of Luxembourg, various other royals and y’all. All those questions to PM Abe about radiation hundreds of km away and nothing about Tokyo weather. And to Mr. Takeda, the Japanese IOC member, an equestrian himself who, no doubt back in the day regularly put his horses through their jumping paces in 35-degree heat and 60% humidity. In the meantime, talk about architecture.

  • DA

    I’m all for preserving the Taisho and Showa look whenever possible but I have to admit this design is stunning and already fits well with the city’s western centers.

  • Perfume Forforfor

    That sure is ugly….does not fit in at all