In a traditional topping out ceremony organised in conjunction with EC&O’s contractor, Sir Robert McAlpine, 120 guests, including local residents and politicians, subcontractors and consultants, celebrated a key stage in the enhancement works at Olympia.
West Hall has been redeveloped within its existing footprint, into a two-storey 90,000 square feet exhibition facility by adding a floor – and creating links to the Grand Hall and Olympia 2 behind the restored façade. The work, which has been phased to allow the exhibition and conference business already operating at Olympia to continue throughout, is part of a £20 million investment in Olympia by EC&O’s parent company, Capital & Counties (Capco).
Nigel Nathan, Group Managing Director of EC&O Venues, ‘topped out’ West Hall – a ceremony which involves laying a concrete plinth and then ‘floating’ – or smoothing off the area – with the help of Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh, Leader of the London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham, in recognition of Olympia’s importance to the West London economy. The local Member of Parliament, Andy Slaughter MP, was also there to lend his support.
Nigel Nathan said: “Our vision for Olympia respects the fabric of this historic building whilst also making the internal space easier to access and more flexible for organisers to use.
“Of course, Olympia is not only a world class venue: it is also a local business employing local people. We are grateful for all the support and patience we have received from our neighbours during this construction phase. We are delighted that we are joined today by local residents, local councillors and by our local MP, who have all been consulted on our vision and have worked with us to ensure that the interests of Olympia and local people are aligned.
“We believe the investment will bring in business, new jobs, and continued prosperity for Hammersmith and Fulham, benefiting the whole of West London.”
Cllr Stephen Greenhalgh added: “The Olympia Exhibition and Conference Centre generates income for local businesses, contributes to the West London economy and receives great support from the surrounding community. I am delighted to be here to celebrate this investment in a new and enhanced Olympia and pay tribute to local residents who have been so patient during the construction of West Hall.”
The proposals to upgrade Olympia will improve the flexibility of the space which will be capable of hosting a number of events simultaneously, whilst enhancing one of the UK’s best known venues. In the next stage of EC&O’s plans, Olympia 2 is being reconfigured to provide more efficient servicing arrangements and improved connectivity with the rest of the facility.
Douglas Emslie, Chairman of the Association of Event Organisers (AEO) and Group Managing Director of event organisers Tarsus Group plc, believes these enhancements will help stimulate the London event market.
He said: “The expansion of space at Olympia is a very positive step for the exhibition industry as it will help both large and small shows grow. Large shows will be able to get better utilisation and visitor flows while small shows will have more flexibility to expand.”
Nigel Nathan added: “This topping out ceremony for the West Hall – an important landmark in the delivery of this project – is a nod to tradition. But it is also marks Olympia’s progress and celebrates its exciting future.”