London 2012 Olympic Park, Aquatic Center Undergoing $468M Makeover
London's Olympic Park "has taken on the air of a construction site again," with work under way on a £292M ($468M) transformation before Britons can use facilities like the swimming pool and cycle trails, according to Keith Weir of REUTERS. Builders "in hard hats were on Tuesday dismantling temporary seats towering above the pool" where Michael Phelps won a record 18th Olympic Gold in August. Workers on the site "on a bleak November day were focused on getting it ready to reopen to the public next July" -- a year after the Games. The reconstructed site will don a new name: the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Contractors Balfour Beatty and BAM Nuttall "are expected to employ up 1,000 workers on the conversion." The pool is scheduled to be used "as a public leisure centre" from '14, although London has also bid to stage the European Swimming Championships at the venue in '16 (REUTERS, 11/27). In London, Owen Gibson wrote London 2012's Aquatic Centre "has begun its transformation from the ugly duckling to the white swan of the Olympic Park." The London Legacy Development Corp. "formally took control" and started removing the huge outer "water wings" on the sides of the £251M ($401.9M) venue. The last outer strip of the two boxy temporary wings, which expanded the capacity from 2,500 to 17,500 during the Games, was pulled away, and between now and next spring "will be replaced by huge glass windows" on Zaha Hadid's wave-like design (GUARDIAN, 11/27).