UK: London's first purpose-built music venue in 130 years, The O2, is set to open in July 2007. Built inside the fateful Millennium Dome, The O2 is poised to become the largest and most technically-advanced music venue the UK has ever seen, and no expense has been spared, writes Greg Parmley.
The £100 million project, undertaken by Anschutz Entertainment Group (AEG), is based on the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, the twice-recognised Pollstar-CIC Arena of the Year.
Jessica Koravos, COO of AEG's UK operation, says, "In terms of purpose built buildings of any size, the last one was the Royal Albert Hall. It's long overdue for London and for the UK in general."
Koravos believes that when The O2 opens, it will trounce other London arenas. "Our venue will be a higher capacity, a better fan experience and a better artist experience in terms of the staging, load in, acoustics, performance quality and the cost of production, which will be much less," she says.
The O2 complex includes a 2,000-capacity live music club, an 11-screen cinema, exhibition and theatre spaces as well as bars and restaurants. But the jewel in its crown is the arena, with its variable capacity of up to 23,000.
Preparing the space acoustically has been one of the hardest tasks AEG faces, and Jim Griffiths, director of acoustics at Vanguardia Consulting, has been involved every step of the way.
"It's probably got the largest specifically acoustically treated roof in Europe," he says. "There's a huge amount of acoustic treatment, and we've installed two in house VerTec JBL line array systems for delays so arena touring bands don't have to bring their own in order to play here."
Read the full interviews with Griffiths and Koravos in the next issue of Pro Sound News Europe.