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The Quality in Construction Awards 2007 - Major project of the year

Emirates Stadium.

Client: Arsenal Football Club

Main contractor: Sir Robert McAlpine

Contract value: £275 million

Start on site: August 2004

Completion: July 2006

Description: Design and construction of a 60,000 seat stadium, waste recycling centre, new access road, road widening and two bridges

Project entered by: Arsenal FC, Sir Robert McAlpine, AYH, Buro Happold, HOK Sport, Watson Steel Structures

"Even after six years, I'm not sure we understand construction," declares Ken Friar, director of Arsenal Football Club. He undoubtedly underestimates the club's appreciation of the construction process, but there's no doubt that this was a very complex project by any standards.

Arsenal's new home is squeezed into a 24 ha site bounded on two sides by railways, with a main sewer passing below the site and a construction height limit of 30 m imposed by the local authority.

"Success on this project was rooted in the pre-construction period," says Andrew Verney, McAlpine's project manager. "We took loose control of design before HOK was novated to us. That helped us assess the risks and prepare for them."

Many people admire the new stadium but few realise what McAlpine and the rest of the team had to do before even starting on the stadium itself.

First a waste transfer station had to be demolished and relocated to another part of the site. Then there were two new railway bridges to build.

Against all this was an immovable July 2006 completion date. "If we'd missed that, we'd have missed the 2006 season," says Mr Verney.

Originally, Arsenal had intended all the catering for the new ground to take place off-site. But when the catering supplier pulled out, the design had to be changed to accommodate on-site catering facilities. In total the extra works amounted to £35 million in value. Still the completion date remained fixed.

Exceptional project management, masterful team-building and an inspiring client ensured success on this project. And it was completed early.