One of the architects behind the plan to redevelop Old Trafford has outlined his desire to help turn Manchester United's iconic arena into a place that the supporters can truly call home.
The plan to redesign Old Trafford and bring it kicking and screaming into the 21st century as a state-of-the-art arena is currently in its early stages after the club appointed Populous and Legends International as its contractor last month. They are tasked with modernising the stadium, in a bid to try and bring it on par with the likes of the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium and the Emirates Stadium.
Amongst the options being considered, two of them are to expand both the capacity and the stadium. As well as that, they also want to extensively redevelop the stadium, which has fallen behind its competitors in recent years.
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Populous and Legends International, who were the architects of Spurs' new home and the designers of the new Riverside Stand at Fulham's Craven Cottage, like to find creative ways to transform established stadia that feature design challenges. But whatever happens, Populous Managing Director Christopher Lee has promised that the development will take place with United's supporters at the very heart of the project.
"It's a massive privilege and I'm honoured personally and as a practice to be involved with such a great club and looking at what the future holds for Old Trafford," Lee told the i.
"It's one of the four mythical stadiums in the world. Along with the Maracanas of this world – well Old Trafford is right up there. To be able to look at a future and a transformation of one of the greatest stadiums in the world into a cutting edge, state-of-the-art stadium that will keep the fans and club for the next decades to come is a massive privilege and a huge weight of responsibility too.
"In many ways the fans are as much our clients as the ownership. They're the ones we have to keep happy. Almost the greatest thing that happened in my career was the opening night at Spurs and I was sat next to a guy who'd been going for 50 years and said'‘It’s like coming home, isn't it?'
"For me I thought 'Wow, that's what I want to create'. I want people to feel it's their home and something special. When you consider iconic stadiums like Old Trafford, being able to redevelop them and continue that legacy is a huge, huge honour."
United have been accused of being a corporate club in the past, with it being claimed that they focus more on that side of the business than the supporters. For Lee, he has admitted that it is important to gain a firm understanding of everything about the club when embarking on a project of this type.
He added: "It's about trying to understand what the club is about, what the supporters are about, what the location is, what the site is, what the community wants to try and create stuff that is super site specific.
"I kind of like to think of it as like some kind of alchemy, of taking base metals and making something that is really special, that resonates with our fans and gives back to the community and becomes the physical manifestation of our football clubs. Shirts, players, logos change but the stadium's a representation of what the club is about."
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