BT Sport studios take advantage of two of the UK’s most connected buildings
The London Legacy Development Corporation (LLDC) says that having BT Sport as an anchor tenant for the Olympic International Broadcast Centre (IBC) is another example of the Olympic legacy and will give the iCITY Tech Hub a huge boost.
The IBC will become the production hub for the BT Sport channels which will launch this summer and BT is refitting part of the building to house three TV studios, a control centre, 20 edit suites and an audience holding area.
The press centre and IBC hosted 28,000 members of the media during London 2012, with iCITY named preferred bidders for the facilities after the conclusion of the games.
An accidental legacy
iCITY plans to house media centres, start-up incubators, education facilities and a data centre in the buildings, but BT’s presence means that London’s Olympic Broadcast Centre will be the first such Olympic centre to be re-used for its original purpose.
“Having an anchor tenant like BT here just transforms the prospects of this building,” said Neale Coleman, deputy chairman of the LLDC. “I think it’s fair to say that there should have been more scepticism about whether we’d find the right uses for this building. It’s notoriously difficult to find good uses for Olympic broadcast centres because they are so massive.”
BT will give the tech hub a fantastic start, he said, and “create a buzz about the place.” iCITY is expected to create 4,000 jobs in the area and the LLDC is grateful to have a blue-chip employer on board that will attract others to the park.
“When you think of BT as an anchor, it was a no-brainer decision.”
Jamie Hindhaugh, COO of BT Sport, says that the building presents an opportunity that no other facility in the country could offer. His first task after joining BT Sport last October was to find a home for the channel. He looked at Media City in Salford and Pinewood Studios, but felt that both lacked the potential to become a home.
He visited the IBC on his second day in the job and an agreement had been signed by mid-November.
“The IBC is the only purpose-built structure I know that can house studios. For studios you need space and you need height and it had both of those things,” explained Hindhaugh, who was full of praise for the speed at which the deal was negotiated.
BT is currently undertaking a two year building programme at the site, but Hindhaugh’s first challenge was to stop builders from ripping out cables given the “phenomenal connectivity” at the facilities.
However initial work is 95 percent done. Systems integrators have been in since mid-March, while 200km of cables and wires are being laid ahead of technical rehearsals in early June. Hindhaugh says that the facility will house the biggest L-shaped studio in the world and the biggest LED studio in the world.
“When you’ve got that sort of space and that sort of height – it’s amazing what you can do,” said Hindhaugh.
BT can broadcast via satellite from the IBC or from the BT Tower, with backup studio facilities located at the central London icon. Storage is mirrored at the two sites should there be a power failure, but given the “huge resilience” of the IBC, this shouldn’t be a problem.
One of iCITY’s chief selling points is its abundance of power, with the majority of it eventually coming from renewable sources. Heating and cooling is powered by biomass, while it will use the same sustainable network put in place for the Olympics.
“To make something like this happen is testament to the true spirit of the Olympics”, said Hindhaugh.
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