John Barrow

Senior Principal

As a Senior Principal of Populous, John is responsible for the planning and design of major sports, entertainment and leisure facilities around the world, as well as preparing bids for international events like the Olympics, Commonwealth Games and World Cups, including London’s winning Olympic bid, Glasgow’s successful Commonwealth Games bid, London’s World Cup bid, Sri Lanka’s Commonwealth Games bid, and Dubai’s World Expo bid for 2020.


Celebrating ten years of involvement in the London Olympic bid, the Olympic Park masterplan, and the Olympic Handball Arena, John headed Team Populous, responsible for the Overlay Design of the temporary venues for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, including unique arenas for Beach Volleyball at Horseguards, Archery at Lords, Equestrian Events at Greenwich Park and Hockey in the Olympic Park. John was responsible for negotiating Populous as the Official Provider for Architectural and Overlay Design for the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games.


John created our Motorsport specialist group in 2003 for the Dubai Autodrome, a Category 1 track and innovative facilities at the core of a continuing masterplan development. Since then he has led our Motorsport team through the masterplanning and new track design at the British Formula 1 Grand Prix at Silverstone opened in 2011, with the famous Silverstone Wing forming the iconic heart for the pits, media and hospitality zone. The Motorsport team is working on Formula 1 and MotoGP projects in Argentina, India, the UAE and Malaysia.


John has recently developed our activities in Russia, having been involved in the Sochi Winter Olympics 2014 successful bid and masterplan, and subsequently winning the design for the Main Winter Olympics Stadium. The stadium has been designed to become a venue for the Russian FIFA World Cup 2018 through an innovative flexibility allowing the venue to be scaled down in capacity according to its legacy uses. The Russia team is now working on a number of World Cup venues, having completed the first World Cup stadium in Kazan, ready for the World Universiade in 2013. New indoor multi-event arenas in Moscow and St. Petersburg are currently in the design process.


World Cup and Euro Championship stadia are a speciality : starting with Benfica Stadium and Faro Stadium built for the Euro 2004 competition, John has been responsible for the Populous team designing Soccer City Stadium in Johannesburg for the FIFA World Cup 2010, and he is the Mandataire leading the design team for the new Olympique Lyonnais Stadium for the Euro 2016 Championship in France. The Lyon project will be one of the flagship stadia to be built in France, and the only privately-funded project designed for maximum revenue generation. The team is also designing the new Olympique Lyonnais Training Centre nearby as part of a sustainable masterplan.


John headed the design team for the London O2 Arena, constructed under the Millennium Dome on the Greenwich Peninsula. Opened in 2007, the O2 Arena has been voted as the most successful arena in the world each year, bringing millions of visitors to this state-of-the art venue which can host a wide variety of sports, concerts and entertainment events. The O2 Arena is an Olympic Venue as well as a commercial success, accommodating basketball and gymnastics competitions.


Using his unrivalled experience in the design of arenas in the UK and Europe, John has been personally responsible for many of the current successful venues, including the Sheffield Arena, the Millennium Landmark Belfast Odyssey Arena, Milton Keynes Arena, Londondome Arena, the London Olympic Handball Arena, Wembley Arena and the London O2 Arena and the Dublin O2 Arena.


Populous is a global award-winning design practice specialising in creating environments that give users and spectators unforgettable experiences. Our comprehensive range of  services includes sports architecture, circuit design, conference and exhibition centre architecture, interior design, environmental graphics and way-finding, events planning and overlay, master planning, sustainable design consulting and facilities operations analysis. Populous have designed some of the world’s most famous iconic sporting venues, including the 2012 Olympic Stadium, Wembley Stadium, Ascot Racecourse and Wimbledon Centre Court.


Populous is the world’s leading designers of entertainment and sporting facilities. As the world’s leading sports architecture firm, Populous Sport’s tradition of innovation has transformed the way people have experienced events for nearly 25 years. At Populous we are passionate about arenas and sports facilities. It is those passions that led us to create the first firm devoted to arena and sports architecture, and grow into a prolific practice of more than 400 people worldwide.


Our architects are the world’s finest and most experienced, drawing from the combined expertise of more than 600 projects, including 75 professional, civic and collegiate arena projects, 5 Olympic events, stadia, arenas and racecourses and convention centres. With offices in London, Kansas City, and Brisbane, Australia, our reach is worldwide.


With our strong belief in sustainability and understanding of how structures embed themselves in their environment, Populous delivers the complete package: solutions that celebrate and enhance the unique properties of sport and entertainment buildings, designed to deliver thrilling experiences for years to come.






1,000     Populous projects completed globally

people who have attended a Populous facility in the past ten years alone

18m        seats in Populous designed stadiums

34             countries where Populous has worked

40             football and rugby team clients

24             Major League Baseball franchise clients

30             NFL franchise clients

80             professional and civic arena clients

120          college and university clients

40             convention center clients

30             sports-related events coordinated

475       number of Populous employees globally


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