Work is on progress for completition of Wembley: the world's largest football stadium by Spring 2006. External cladding is starting to go up, seats put in place and the 11 acre roof is bring raised!!!
View of the stadium from Central London (City of Westminster to be precise)
Article sourced by lyonsdown
from the UK & Ireland sub-forum on SCC
Wembley Stadium Special Report
Football's coming home to a place of spectacular beauty
By Brian Stater
When Football's Coming Home became the anthem for Euro 96, it was precisely 10 years ahead of its time. We didn't know it then, but we do now.
New dawn: Wembley will offer spectators improved facilities in a state of the art stadium
Home, in 1996, was Wembley. A crumbling old pile that was unworthy of the events it staged. In 2006, home will again be Wembley, a new arrival which already makes the old ground look like a bicycle shed.
As the stadium rises, it is clear that what used to be called the people's game has found a people's palace.
The impression begins when a visitor emerges from the Underground. The first sight, on the pilgrims' progress which tens of thousands of fans will make to the ground, is of the arch which frames the stadium like a rainbow.
This vast structure has the dip and curve of a David Beckham free kick and is already recognised around the world as the architectural signature of the new Wembley.
Under the arch stands the bowl of the huge stadium, which is being clad in a sleek skin of glass, aluminium and stainless steel. Inside, the fans enter a concourse that leads right around the stadium. From here, they find the lifts and escalators that send them up and on towards the first electrifying glimpse of the arena.
To stand here is to be convinced that Wembley will be regarded by historians as the first English cathedral of the 21st century.
Below is the pitch area, the focus of 90,000 seats. Soaring 133 metres above it is the arch, the single feature which unlocked the ambition of faultless sightlines with reduced structure, and gave the building its unique character.
The arch bears most of the weight of Wembley's twin roofs, so clearing the way for those unparalleled views of the pitch below. The arch carries a mighty 7,000 tons and the roofs cover 11 acres. The roof on the south side of the stadium will slide open to admit sunlight and air to the pitch.
But Wembley is more than a football stadium. It will stage athletics, rock concerts and banqueting, so it also houses the four biggest restaurants in London.
The chief characters in this epic tale are the architects, Norman Foster and Rod Sheard, who have brought their respective practices into collaboration. Foster, who turns 70 in a few weeks, is without much doubt the most prolific and inventive architect of his generation. He runs his practice, Foster and Partners, from a giant London office - at the last count he had a staff of 500 - and since coming to public attention in 1964 he has built a seemingly endless list of elegant structures.
He believes that the classic materials of modernism - steel, concrete and glass - can be both bold and beautiful and he continually explores the very limits of their suppleness and strength.
Foster also believes that brave new architecture can learn from and enhance the best of the past.
All these qualities are evident in a list of buildings which range from the Great Court at the British Museum, to the startling and popular "Gherkin" in the City of London, and the Millau Viaduct, which strides across a 750-foot deep gorge in the south of France.
But nowhere, in the portfolio that also includes airports and factories, art galleries and Tube stations, will you find anything connected with sport. Until Wembley.
Foster said: "I have found this project immensely exciting. I can't pretend I'm a manic football fan, but if you are part of a big crowd, especially if it is an epic match, it can be an incredible experience. I've asked myself what is it that makes this experience? Clearly, a lot of it is about ritual. Much of it is about colour and acoustics. Then there is sound, and lighting. All of these add to the intensity of the experience."
England has waited a long time for architecture to discover sport. Wales has the hugely popular Millennium Stadium, by Rod Sheard, Foster's collaborator. Scotland has a new Hampden Park and a rebuilt Murrayfield.
True, England has Twickenham, spectacularly rebuilt by the Rugby Football Union, though even the most ardent rugby fans have been heard to complain that in its giant stands they feel isolated from the drama. Then there is Lord's, but this is not so much a single cricket ground as a string of architectural pearls - the pavilion, Mound Stand, media centre and Grand Stand - arranged around the boundary. But Wembley is the real deal. A true architectural celebration of a national obsession.
Foster added: "There is tremendous pride in football in this country. A huge sense of national identity comes from it. There is no hesitation whatsoever in getting behind and backing the national team. But there has been some hesitation and some difficulty in accepting that we can have and should have the best football stadium in the world. Because that's what we'll have, at Wembley."
"Wembley is a first in all kinds of ways. The new ground will be unique. At 90,000 all-seater capacity, it will be the largest stadium in the world which has a roof over every seat. And with its capacity for rock concerts and with its huge catering facilities it provides entertainment beyond any previous scale."
For Foster, Wembley is a first. But for Sheard, this is the latest in a long line of sports architecture. He is 54, was born and educated in Australia and his firm, HOK, are involved in just about every major development in the field.
Sheard built the Sydney Olympic Stadium, Cardiff's Millennium Stadium, the Reebok in Bolton and made his mark with Huddersfield Town's new ground, in 1996. This won him Britain's Building of the Year award and alerted a sceptical profession that football grounds need not be corrugated sheds.
In addition to Wembley, he has Arsenal's Ashburton Grove coming out of the ground and his firm are designing Wimbledon's new Centre Court. Sheard said: "It's the size which is the most extraordinary thing about Wembley, along with the arch. In terms of its floor area and facilities, this ground is going to be much, much bigger than anything, anywhere. And the arch . . . well, that just hits you in the heart. It has given me intense enthusiasm and passion. Once it was up, it gave the whole project an enormous boost. Seeing it there gave us all the enthusiasm to work the extra hours to solve the other problems as they came along."
Now, the problems are mostly solved and the stadium has already taken its final shape. But Sheard insists he won't regard his work as finished "until the public have walked through the door. That's the moment it becomes a building."
So, will he and Foster be there to see that happen? Sheard says he'll not only be there, but rather hoping Arsenal will be too. And Foster? "You bet I'll be there," he laughs. "Just try keeping me away."
So when Saturday comes next spring, when the band play and the crowd sing and the heart of this great building at last begins to beat, the game which means so much in English life will have a worthy stage. It's not long now. Football's coming home
Expansion to a capacity of 23,000 is progressing well!
Construction should start soon on the Valley (current all seater capacity of 27,116) to above 31,000 and then to 40,000 once the former expansion is complete. Here is an image of the 40,000 capacity 'The Valley' stadium once fully expanded by around 2010.
This 60,000 stadium should be completed at around the same time as the new Wembley in Spring 2006. Pictures from 3rd May.