Japanese officials are finding out that breaking up is hard to do, especially with Zaha Hadid.
Today the starchitect's London-based firm Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) issued a 1,440 word statement to "set the record straight" regarding its ouster from the National Stadium design in Tokyo. The rebuttal comes after Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced July 17 that the stadium design would "start over from zero" after contending with costs soaring upwards of $2 billion, which many attributed to ZHA's bombastic plan.
ZHA begs to differ.
In the statement, the firm asserts that its design proposal had nothing to do with the staggering price tag, and that it was ready to create "a lower cost design at any time." Instead, ZHA blames the stadium's client, the Japan Sports Council (JSC), for appointing contractors too early and without cost estimates, limiting the possibility for competive bidding. The firm says they pointed this out to JSC, but "our warning was not heeded."
The proposed stadium is meant to host the Rugby World Cup in just five years, the Tokyo 2020 games, and events "for the next 50 to 100 years." ZHA's design—which faced fierce opposition and drew comparisons to a turtle and a bicycle helmet—was approved by the government July 7, only to be scrapped ten days later after a JSC report claimed the design was responsible for the mounting budget, specifically indicting the steel roof arches that would support a polymer membrane roof.
ZHA’s memo goes on to point out that construction costs in Tokyo have increased by a whopping 25 percent between July 2013 and July 2015 and will continue to skyrocket in the five years leading up to the stadium's debut. ZHA also warns that ditching the design this late in the game will make for a "rushed design process" and "risk producing a lower standard National Stadium with limited future usage."
"Starting the design process gain does not tackle any of the fundamental issues that have led to an increased estimate in budget," the firm says. The solution? To maintain ZHA's design.
"We have always been, and still are, prepared to use the expertise and knowledge that has been developed to work with the JSC to produce a lower cost design to a change in specification," the firm says, also underscoring the thousands of hours its design team devoted to the scheme's development.
The firm says it has already written to Prime Minister Abe for additional review to prove that its plan offers the "most cost-effective solution" to create the "best" stadium.
Read ZHA's statement in its entirety here.