Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center, Athens

Martin Hirko
The prestigious €566million Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center is Europe’s largest ongoing construction project.

The Stavros Niarchos Foundation Cultural Center (SNFCC) is a philanthropic gift to the Greek state by Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF). The project includes the construction and fitting out of new facilities for the National Library of Greece and the Greek National Opera as well as the creation of the 170,000 m² Stavros Niarchos Park.

The 25 hectare SNFCC site is five kilometres south of the center of Athens, on a former car park for the 2004 Olympic Games. Construction works have been ongoing for nearly two years and there are now over 1400 workers on site. The super-structure is erected, planting is well advanced in the park, and the innovative canopy roof structure which appears to hover over the opera house, library and parking facilities is well under way. Interior building services, partitions and finishes are also in progress. The original Renzo Piano design is largely unchanged, although the public library design has been slightly modified to give a more flexible, community feel.

The project also aims to be the first public building in Greece to gain a LEED Platinum certification.

For the project as a whole, sustainability and durability are vital – the complex will be managed by the public sector when it opens in late 2016, at which point the SNF transfers control to the Greek state. The project also aims to be the first public building in Greece to gain a LEED Platinum certification. Early on during construction significant archaeological finds were discovered, which led to a full excavation. The surrounding Faliron Delta is steeped in history, located just six kilometres from the Acropolis, symbol of the classical spirit and civilization, and the excavation created international academic interest. However despite these exciting findings, and the region’s typically relaxed construction timescales, the schedule remains within a few months of the original completion date.

Communication and stakeholder management are key elements of Faithful+Gould’s role and we are increasingly involved in operational issues as the site becomes a live venue for events during the construction period. For example, the Dance of the Cranes, the center’s first major choreographed music and dance performance, was hosted at the site in June, and saw ten industrial cranes reinvented as dance participants.

Early on during construction significant archaeological finds were discovered, which led to a full excavation.

These events bring public awareness to the project, building up anticipation of the opening launch, and creating interest around the cultural potential. They also bring challenges to a live working site, and we work alongside contractors to assure safe public access and continued smooth progress of the construction schedule. The temporary SNFCC Visitors Center is also open to the public and will operate until project completion. It provides information about SNFCC’s role, history and structure, and serves as a venue for cultural and educational events.

Faithful+Gould’s on-site team of ten (mostly locals working in collaboration with select specialists from the UK) has proven to be a trusted advisory resource for our client, the SNFCC. We are providing integrated project management services which include consultant and contractor procurement, programme management, cost management, and LEED certification coordination, as well as expert support for procurement of facilities management services and other related operational issues.

This is an inspiring and innovative project and our team feels privileged to be part of the construction leadership.

We have worked with the SNFCC and the construction contractor to shape the careful scheduling and management needed to support the construction works, minimising project delays during the archaeological investigations. Our proactive risk management strategy, defined at project outset and modified as needed, has worked to mitigate cost impacts.

This is an inspiring and innovative project and our team feels privileged to be part of the construction leadership. The Stavros Niarchos Foundation’s gift to Greece also brings local jobs and infuses capital into a challenging economic landscape, leaving a sustainable legacy. The project has changed the way construction is approached in Greece and I’m very proud that our team is playing a major role.

Written by