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How I Started - Stadium Achitect

Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy - British Council
 This article was generously provided to ClubFootball by the British Council, which operates in China as the Cultural and Education Section of the British Embassy.


Name: Rod Sheard

Job: Architect
Nationality: Australian
Rod Sheard is Chief Executive of HOK+Lobb Architects, the world's leading sports stadium architects. HOK+Lobb were the architects behind Stadium Australia, the main venue used in the Sydney 2000 Olympics they are also involved in the construction of the new Wembley Stadium.
What was the big break that established HOK+Lobb as a leading stadium designer?
"Without doubt, designing Huddersfield Town's new McAlpine Stadium was the breakthrough. It was recognised throughout the world, and it was chosen by the Royal Institute of British Architects as the Building of the Year in 1995. Before that, it had been a frustrating time. Quite often you design stadiums that never get built or differ quite significantly from your original design, but the McAlpine Stadium was even more of a great achievement because the final result was more or less faithful to the original design."
Can you describe your job for us?
"There are three main areas to my work. Firstly, you have to get the new work. Secondly, you have to do the work and finally you also have to manage the office and oversee the whole process. I try to avoid the management side as much as I can! I do spend a lot of time pitching for new work, speaking at conferences and attending presentations. Obviously I'm also heavily involved in doing the initial sketches for stadium designs. I also seem to spend too much time on a plane as my job involves a lot of working abroad."
What do you enjoy most about working in the sports sector?
"The great thing about building stadiums and other sports facilities is that, unlike an office, there's always an opportunity to enjoy the building that you've designed. I've returned to the McAlpine Stadium on numerous occasions to listen to people's reactions to the stadium and just to sit down, watch a match and experience at first hand the building in full use."
What is the highlight of your career so far?
"Stadium Australia. We received so much praise out in Australia and from the rest of the world for this project. Everyone associated with the project is incredibly proud of the success of the stadium and the opening night of the Olympics was one of those spine-tingling moments that I'll never forget!"
Finally, what advice would you give to people who want to follow in your footsteps?
"I've always believed that we've been successful because we know our stuff. It's very important to recognise at an early age, and this applies to architecture especially, that you have to be able to communicate your knowledge and expertise. It is so important not to be too arrogant and think you know it all. But what I do is extremely rewarding. If you can build your expertise in an area you enjoy then it's fantastic."



May 2001

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