Arsenal F.C.



In 2004 I was responsible for modelling and detailing the main steelwork for Arsenal F.C's new football stadium. At its peak we had three draughtsmen working on it with myself as lead. The project ran very smoothly and was completed well ahead of schedule and under budget.



Sir Robert McAlpine began construction of a 60,000-capacity stadium for English football club Arsenal in February 2004. Designed by HOK Sport, the venue at Ashburton Grove, London, is at the centre of a £390 million project, opened in July 2006 and fully operational for the start of the 2006–2007 football season.

It was announced on 5 October 2004 that the stadium will be known as the Emirates Stadium for at least the first 15 years after the club agreed a £100m sponsorship deal with Emirates Airline. This sum also includes payments for an eight-year shirt sponsorship by Emirates, starting in the 2006–2007 season.

In one of the largest developments taken on in the UK, Arsenal is also funding 2,300 homes plus facilities for local communities. In March 2003, the club's representatives signed the final building contracts and acquisition papers. Work has now begun on this housing development after delays due to objections from Islington Borough Council and residents.

HOK established the £200 million stadium in a 7.8 acre park with public access. The designers reduced the secure area of the stadium to within the building itself, so freeing up outside areas to be used as public spaces.



The park sits on a podium above ground level, separating the pedestrian area from the traffic below. The podium is carved out so the stadium's entrance plaza is at street level. This area is designed as the development's front door.


The plaza is bounded by the club's offices, box office, the stadium's disabled entrance and a 10,000m2 megastore to sell Arsenal merchandise. From the plaza, a sweeping ramp and stairs lead to the to the east and west sides of the podium.

McAlpine is employing 1,000 workers to build the stadium and surrounding structures, including two pedestrian bridges to span the eastern railway cutting. A third bridge at the site's northern corner is designed for emergency vehicle access only.


HOK devised a glass and steel construction that it expects to sparkle in sunlight and glow at night. The stadium will also become the first in England to be equipped with HDTV, after Arsenal signed a deal with Sony.



The stadium is expected to receive a five-star rating from UEFA, which will allow it to host the UEFA Champions League final although the presence of Wembley in the same city would make this unlikely.


With its highest point 46m above the ground, the stadium neither unduly dominates the skyline nor overshadows the surrounding area. Its seating bowl has a dramatic curved shape, rather like a saddle, with the compass points (north, south, east and west) rising higher than its corners.



The roof takes the form of a dish suspended above the seating bowl. Horizontal eves accentuate the curves of the bowl and reduce the visual impact of the large trusses that support the roof. Its underside is clad with metallic panels that provide a seamless appearance with the rest of the visible structure.


This design also enables as much sunlight as possible to reach the pitch. The quality of its grass was of paramount importance to the club, so computer modelling was used to ensure natural light and circulation were adequate. Air passing between the seating and the roof increases spectator comfort as well as promoting faster growth.


The roof is supported by four trusses, triangular in section and made of welded tubular steel. Two large trusses span 200m in a north–south direction, while two smaller supports span an east–west direction. The trusses are supported by the stadium's vertical concrete cores and are connected to them by steel tripods. 3,000t of tubular steel has been used on the roof, with 10,000t of reinforced steel throughout the stadium.



The eight cores each house four stairways, a passenger lift plus service access. They are also useful landmarks for helping spectators find their seats. 60,000m³ of concrete was used in the stadium's construction.


Between these cores are façades - some glazed and some of woven stainless steel mesh - allowing people on the podium to see inside the stadium. The facades obscure much of the stadium bowl and roof, making the building appear smaller as you move closer. At podium level toughened glass is used for the façades, while the upper levels feature a lighter and more transparent inclined curtain wall.



HOK used double-glazed units in front of spaces that need to be climate-controlled. 15,000m² of glass was used on the stadium.

The seating bowl is arranged into four tiers. Lower and upper levels accommodate general admission spectators while the middle and box tiers accommodate club and corporate spectators.



The stadium has two levels below ground that house its support facilities. These include commercial kitchens, changing rooms, press and education centres, but also loading areas for the stadium and the businesses on Queensland Road as well as parking for cars, coaches and outside broadcast vans. By allowing the stadium to be serviced here, the podium can be used as a pedestrianised area and the site for main spectator entrances.



Above the podium, an expansive double-height space houses restaurants and lounge bars with views onto the pitch and outside. A mezzanine level within this space accommodates private boxes. Plant areas in noise-dampening louvered enclosures occupy the top level.