vPPR Architects completed Olympic Way and the Olympic Steps in June 2021, with Gross Max responsible for the soft landscaping. The project was initially designed by Dixon Jones and continues their tradition of design excellence. Undertaken by Quintain in partnership with the London Borough of Brent it is the culmination of 5 year’s design work over four phases, plus much enabling work to infrastructure.
“I witnessed today the excitement and elegance of the Olympic Way landscaping and steps. A real triumph.”
Ricky Burdett, advisor to the Quintain board
Following removal of the unloved steeply-ramped concrete Pedway in November 2020 the Olympic Steps were unveiled in February. The grand granite paved staircase of a suitably shallow gradient leads up to the Stadium concourse. They form the continuation of the areas of Olympic Way already completed between 2017 and 2019 (generous lifts already having been installed immediately behind the new stairs).
The connection between Wembley Park Station and Wembley Stadium over the years (often referred to as ‘Wembley Way’) has had various interpretations. From its introduction as Olympic Way for the Games of 1948, it gave access to the Lutyens-esque stadium by John Simpson of 1923; following its demolition in 2002, Foster’s replacement stadium of 2008 proposed a direct ramped connection between station and stadium indifferent to development opportunities on either side; and then in 2003 Rogers’ plan to ground the stadium in its emerging urban context with theintroduction of the Boulevard. In all these initiatives the Pedway as a ramped connection to the concourse (originally built to conduct the crowds over a coach park) has remained.
Quintain has redeveloped a large area of the surrounding Wembley Park as a new part of the city, with much further work either planned or on site. On 35 days of the year the site plays host to up to 90,000 visitors and for the rest of the year the emerging population has had to coexist with the dormant infrastructure. In particular the ramped approach of the Pedway formed a bulwark to Brent’s ambitions to unite the east and west halves of the borough.
The new staircase (in front of which events will also be staged), the top-lit open undercroft area and the processional route lined with ‘Avenue of Champions’ trees from all round the world unite to create a strong sense of space for residents and visitors alike. The staircase is paved with three types of granite, with the flank walls and sloping elements in polished concrete. Thirty six circular 2.2m diameter pavement flights provide daylight to the important ‘Club Wembley’ concourse below.
In order to coordinate the construction with the stadium’s busy events calendar the construction comprises a steel frame onto which were applied a large number of large precast units with the finishes and paving lights already cast on. This enabled the bulk of the stair to be erected in just three weeks following the demolition of the Pedway. The grand staircase is illuminated with tall lighting masts and lighting concealed within the handrailing. Its generosity in width forms an important part of the visitor experience whilst both arriving at and leaving the stadium. It allows the stadium to discreetly and flexibly manage the large crowd flows that attend the many memorable stadium events.
For more information please visit Wembley Park Olympic Steps.