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Japan chooses $1.3 billion design for Tokyo Olympic stadium after dropping Zaha Hadid plan

TOKYO – Japan chose a scaled-down design Tuesday for the showcase main stadium for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, five months after scrapping an earlier plan by renowned architect Zaha Hadid as too costly.

The new design, by Japanese architect Kengo Kuma, will still cost 153 billion yen ($1.26 billion) to design, build and maintain. The Hadid proposal would have cost 252 billion yen ($2.1 billion), making it the most expensive stadium ever built.

Kuma’s combined steel and wood structure, with a relatively flat roof with shrubbery along its outer concourses, seems to echo traditional temple designs. It stands 50 metres (164 feet) tall, with a centre athletic ground sunk below the surface.

“I think this is a wonderful plan which meets the basic vision in the new construction plan and requirements for construction period and the budget,” Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said in announcing the choice.

The project will be led by major construction company Taisei Corp.

The original plan by British-Iraqi architect Hadid was criticized for its massive cost and scale.