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ODA head of design Jerome Frost talks Olympics, design cuts, and sewers

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Jerome Frost, 37, is head of design for the Olympic Delivery Authority (ODA), here he tells Max Thompson that there is plenty of design work left in the Games and reveals a penchant for wading around in sewers.

What is your mission statement for the 2012 Olympics?
What we are planning for now should have a 100-year lifetime. It is about legacy coming first.

Was it hard to see Zaha Hadid’s Aquatics Centre cut back?
It wasn’t hard at all. If you are designing for legacy it is not a difficult decision to cut. How many swimming pools are there across the UK that are struggling viability wise? You have to be very, very rigorous to make sure that you are not building something you can’t afford.

I don’t believe we cut it back; it was part of the design process. It wasn’t even a brave decision to make, it was the obvious decision.

HOK Sport’s main stadium has come in for criticism. In terms of design, how will the London Games compare with Beijing 2008?
Drawing comparison with the [Herzog & de Meuron’s] Bird’s Nest stadium in Beijing is like drawing a comparison with the Chinese and British economies – we have very different focuses.

One of the issues for us is driving sustainable thought into design, and that is where our design philosophy is going. In a country like ours it
would be inappropriate to build something like the Bird’s Nest. Our bid was about replicability – no-one will be able to build the Bird’s Nest again. London needs to show how to do a successful Games at an affordable price.

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