According to a statement released yesterday by Zaha Hadid Architects, the firm discovered its winning design for the Tokyo National Stadium was being dropped via news reports, not the Tokyo Olympic organizing committee. That suggests Hadid has a reason to be pretty pissed, but throughout the firm's statement, which lays the blame for cost overruns on an unorthodox bid process and the rising cost of construction labor on Tokyo, she keeps her cool; the Japan Sports Council approved every design that was submitted, it says, and ZHA "worked proactively" to reduce cost throughout the process.
Here are the relevant passages about the bid process:
For the first time in the construction of a public building in Japan, a two-stage tender process was used, in which contractors are appointed before being invited to submit cost estimates. As ZHA has considerable experience in this process we advised the JSC that working to an immovable completion deadline, against a backdrop of rocketing annual increases in the cost of building in Tokyo, and in the absence of any international competition, the early selection of a limited number of construction contractors would not lead to a commercially competitive process.Our warning was not heeded that selecting contractors too early in a heated construction market and without sufficient competition would lead to an overly high estimate of the cost of construction.
Hadid isn't the only one who has lost a job over the mounting stadium fiasco. Not so coincidentally, Kimito Kubo, the director-general of the Sports and Youth Bureau, resigned yesterday in the wake of public pressure and social media statements from other government officials demanding someone be held responsible.
In response to the continued furor over the spiraling costs and construction standstill, the country's finance minister, Taro Aso, called for a "cheap Olympics" and a fixed ceiling of 130 billion yen (roughly $1 billion) for the new stadium, the original estimated cost of Hadid's design. But Hadid's stadium isn't the only cost that catching up with the organizing committee; a recent estimate put Tokyo's bill for the games at up to three times more than initially expected. That may explain why Toshiro Muto, the chief executive officer of the Tokyo organizing committee, recently apologized to the IOC, stressing that "there would be no surprises" during the new design and construction process.