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Greece is the word

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The focus on delays to the Olympic stadia has distracted from the architectural and engineering achievements

Will they, won't they? The big construction question of the moment is will the Athens Olympic stadia be ready in time for the UK's athletes to be knocked out in the heats. As you can see, it is a tight timescale.

Santiago Calatrava has attempted to turn a decrepit 20-year-old complex of sports buildings in and around Athens into a state-of-the-art venue for the 2004 Olympics. If he succeeds, this could be his greatest triumph and the last time we hear negative comments about Greek construction workers. In any scheme racing to finish, it is primarily the landscaping that will suffer.

A lot of panic about the building has been created in the lay press. The buildings will, to all intents and purposes, be completed.And they will be magnificent. There may be teething troubles but there is hardly an architect in the world with the audacity to withhold Practical Completion.

And the focus on delays ignores the realities of life on site. Originally Calatrava's design for the roof of the main Olympic stadium weighed 13,000 tonnes. But after the earthquake in Athens in 1999, the foundation details had to be modified to take into account the affects of the heat and lava flows on the supporting soil strata.

Accordingly, the structure has increased in weight by 5,000 tonnes with consequent implications on its design, testing and construction.

That is all in the past. Now, the two completed halves of the main stadium dome have come together. Standing more than 70m high at their apex, the support 'arches' were constructed in isolation and then each one rolled along 65m of reinforced concrete rails into position.More than a third of the roof 's 25,000m 2of glazing was installed prior to the move to maximise the overlap in site activities and reduce the programme delays wherever possible. It was a gamble that paid off, because work would have to have been halted if wind speeds had risen above 8m/second - classified as a 'moderate breeze.' When the roof was in place, 10 days ahead of the deadline set by the International Olympic Committee, the Greek deputy culture minister Fani Palli-Petralia rightly said that 'today we won the first bet'.

Calatrava's 4,000-tonne Velodrome roof was rolled into place more than three months ago to little fanfare.

Maybe we just don't like success stories.

Meanwhile, specialist architectural practice Sport Concepts, based in London, designed the Taekwondo and Handball Arena in association with local practice TPA.

The 8,000-seat indoor arena is one of the major new facilities. According to Mike Smith, Sport Concepts' design principal: 'The intent was to create a landmark facility that will serve the local community and act as a beacon; attracting the public to the newly developed waterfront.'

Fortunately, none of these schemes has been content to be fÛted as one of Britain's lovable heroic failures.

Andreas Papadopoulos is an architect working in Cyprus

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