Construction of the Everton Stadium in Laing O’Rourke has officially started three weeks after the plan was partially blamed for the loss of Liverpool’s Unesco World Heritage status.
An Everton-branded excavator made the first cut in the east wharf of the Grade I listed Bramley-Moore Dock this morning at an event attended by club chairman Bill Kenwright and senior construction workers.
When the 53,000-seat stadium is completed, the historic dock will be almost completely filled with half a million tons of sand.
Kenwright praised the groundbreaking as a “meaningful day”: “To know that the Evertonians and the people of this great city are with us on this trip is a special feeling.
“Now that the work has started, we can all watch our magnificent home come to life.”
The first preparatory work is preparing the ground for the stadium’s Fan Plaza, which will receive more than 9,000 spectators on match days.
Everton said work was underway on “repairing and maintaining” the dock wall, stabilizing a Grade I listed water tower on the site and preparing to demolish unprotected buildings, including a two-story storage facility.
The program, designed by Pattern recently acquired by BDP and US practice Dan Meis, is the UK’s largest single-site development for the private sector.
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But its location and size has proven very controversial and was classified as “totally unacceptable” by Unesco a month before the decision to withdraw Liverpool from its World Heritage Site was announced.
In a June report recommending the move, Unesco said the operation would have “a significant negative impact on the authenticity and integrity” of the area and demonstrated the city council’s “lack of commitment” to protecting the dock.
However, Everton Managing Director Denise Barrett-Baxendale said today’s event is the culmination of a “comprehensive and robust planning process” that looks set to have an exciting future for the club.
And in a comment released today on Building, Liverpool Mayoress Joanne Anderson said she found it “incomprehensible” that Unesco would prefer Bramley Moore Dock to remain a “derelict wasteland” rather than being regenerated.
The city’s north docks, which also house Peel’s Liverpool Waters master plan worth $ 5 billion.
Dipesh Patel, director and chairman of BDP Pattern, said the stadium’s impact on regeneration in Liverpool’s deprived north docks “should not be underestimated”.
He added: “The new public spaces are not only a great place to enjoy football, they will also be an important addition to the urban fabric of the city.”
The stadium has not proven to be a hit with all architects. Sean Griffiths, co-founder of the now defunct firm Fat, described it as “a spaceship from a 1930s episode of Flash Gordon that landed on a warehouse roof.”
It is the first major UK project for Pattern to be taken over by BDP in early July.
With the takeover of the office with 40 employees, BDP is within striking distance of the largest British practice in the annual WA100 report from Building Design behind Fosters + Partners.