You might not think, as you emerge from London’s refurbished Green Park subway station near Buckingham Palace, or glimpse the development going on behind the hugely expanded King’s Cross terminal, that they had much to do with the 2012 Olympics. Nor would you conclude that building an extension to the Tate Modern museum was related to the Games. But these and many more construction projects are all examples of the “London 2012 Effect.”
The Olympic Games gave the city a deadline, and not just for building sports venues. As with many past Olympics cities, the transit system had to be upgraded. More hotel rooms were needed. And a rich cultural program had to be created to celebrate the event. But in London—which was awarded the Games during boom times—the remarkable extent of new and renovated infrastructure and development is, well, Olympian. Projects that were slated to happen anyway were brought forward, such as the upgrade and expansion of the Tube network at pinch-point interchanges like Green Park (Acanthus LW Architects), Farringdon (Atkins and Aedas), and the underground halls at King’s Cross/St. Pancras (Allies and Morrison). Projects that seemed too expensive and ambitious were suddenly approved and built. Even Renzo Piano’s Shard skyscraper (or at least its shell and core) at London Bridge Station will be completed in time to be featured on the Olympic telecasts.