Contractor Galliford Try has been appointed to install a £50m retractable roof over the Centre Court at Wimbledon.
The work, which will transform one of Britain’s most famous sporting venues, maximise revenue for the client and end the hallowed tradition of the extended rain commentary, is scheduled to start in 2006 and will last for about 32 months.
The client for the scheme, the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, has also appointed structural engineer Bianchi Morley and civil engineer Capita Symonds.
The roof was designed by the American architect and stadium specialist HOK Sport. It uses a folding fabric design that is intended to be in position within 10 minutes of the start of a shower.
When fully extended, the roof will cover an area of 65 × 70 m – only slightly smaller than the roof of the Millennium Stadium in Cardiff.
The translucent fabric allows natural light to reach the grass and keeps the temperature inside at a constant 24°C with 50% humidity.
Planning permission for the scheme was granted by Merton council in June.
HOK Sport was assisted through the planning process by fellow architect Building Design Partnership, which acted as planning consultant and worked on the environmental impact assessment.
The roof is designed to be in position within 10 minutes
As well as designing the roof, HOK Sport will strip the world’s most famous tennis court down to its original 1922 design. Six rows will be added to the upper tier on three sides, increasing capacity from 13,800 to 15,000 spectators. The work should be completed by 2009.
The ticket office and retail areas in the east stand are being moved to the east of Centre Court in a separate development scheduled to finish by early 2006.
The roof is understood to be the first of a series of HOK Sport stadium projects incorporating the concertina-style folding design.
n HOK Sport is up against fellow architect Frank Gehry in a competition to design a new arena for Kansas City in the USA.
HOK Sport is part of the Downtown Arena design team, which includes fellow sports specialists Ellerbe Becket and 360 Architects.
The deadline for entries is today, and a winner will be chosen by the end of the month.