Arup with Birmingham City Council


To organise and stage an international sporting event with 72 participating countries, more than 5000 athletes and the international media in attendance in the space of just four years instead of the customary seven would be seen as pushing the envelope. To do the bulk of the work against the backdrop of a global pandemic and all its accompanying hazards, supply-chain strains and daily unpredictability could be seen as verging on the impossible. And yet it was done, on time, on budget, by a city that had never delivered an event of this scale. Arup’s intervention was pivotal to that achievement.

Two years out and behind schedule, Birmingham City Council (BCC) appointed Arup to review progress, reshape the programme and help deliver the Games in July 2022. Drawing on its experience on host city projects around the world, Arup developed a clear, detailed roadmap to the Games.

Working as one team with BCC programme staff, Arup introduced ways of working and tools that transformed cross-directorate coordination, and equipped BCC with the confidence, know-how and systems to deliver future high-profile global events. This unified approach transformed decision-making, allowed challenges to be quickly identified and addressed and led to innovations in BCC’s workstreams that continue to transform its service delivery for Birmingham’s residents and businesses. Arup specialists were able to exploit the capability of BCC’s existing Geographical Information System (GIS) beyond simple mapping of data to real-time analysis. This enabled the creation of new tools such as an interactive events planner to identify and track thousands of events happening in the city in the run-up to the Games. This insight allowed the team to strategically coordinate impactful sporting and community-based events. It was later made into an open collaboration tool that was offered to delivery partners, enhancing the value of BCC’s services.

The Arup-led community engagement programme mobilised public support and kept the city onside through months of disruption. The vibrant and hugely influential ‘Be Bold, Be Birmingham’ campaign brought a mood of celebration and unified purpose to numerous sites around the city.

The plans for managing the delivery of venues and infrastructure, and for city readiness, community engagement and legacy, were developed in fine detail. Central to those plans were: the preparation of venues around the city, including a £72m redevelopment of Alexander Stadium and £70m construction of Sandwell Aquatics Centre; management of 2500 capital infrastructure projects; improvement and management of 167km of Games Route Network; the creation of seven new walking and cycling routes; dressing of 35 strategic locations across the city; design and delivery of the two-day Queen’s Baton Relay in Birmingham.

On 28 July 2022, the Games were opened by Charles, Prince of Wales. With just four years to prepare instead of the standard seven, and against the unprecedented backdrop of the pandemic, Birmingham delivered not just a flawless event, on time and on budget, but one that promises to attract new investment and confidence and generate lasting benefits for the city’s residents and businesses.

View the Arup profile in the MCA Members Directory.