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2012 Heavy Medal London
Posted at 10:33 AM ET, 05/11/2012

London 2012 Olympics: Orbit tower complete and already drawing criticism


Not everyone is a fan of the Orbit tower (left) constructed at the site of London’s new Olympic park. (Handout - LOCOG VIA GETTY IMAGES)
The construction of a new park at the site of the 2012 London Olympics is well underway but will not fully open to the public until at least one and a half years after this summer’s games are complete.

On Friday, officials declared the completion of Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park’s centerpiece, the Orbit — a 377-foot tower of twisted steel that gives visitors stunning panoramic views of the city. But the structure — which somewhat resembles the Eiffel Tower — is already receiving criticism from the host nation. Olympics organizers previously faced backlash over the cyclops mascots for the 2012 games, ticket policies and the bright, flashy logo.

The Telegraph’s Anita Singh wrote Friday that the £22.7 million ($29.3 million) tower has already “been likened to an ‘overgrown maypole,’ a ‘turd on the plaza’ and ‘a contorted mass of entrails.’”

“You know, the Eiffel Tower was hated by everybody for a good many years - 50 years or something like that - and now it’s a mainstay of how we understand Paris,” said Anish Kapoor, the tower’s designer. “It’s controversial and that’s a place to start. Discomfort is okay.”


The steel sculpture designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond stands 114.5 meters (376ft) high, 63 percent of of the sculpture is recycled steel and incorporates the five Olympic rings. (Tim Hales - AP)
ArcelorMittal chairman Lakshmi Mittal, Britain’s richest man, provided £19.6 million for the project. London Mayor Boris Johnson, who commissioned the work, is impressed with the results, and called it “a piece of truly spectacular modern British art.”

“It would have boggled the mids of the Romans,” Johnson said. “It would have dwarfed the aspirations of Gustave Eiffel, and it will certainly be worthy of the best show on Earth in the greatest city on Earth.”

Building Design magazine’s Oliver Wainwright was not quite as impressed.

“It’s just an obnoxious statement and a totem pole to the richest man in the U.K.,” he told the Telegraph.

The park will eventually include a lush river valley, biking trails, a tree-lined promenade and a series of arts, business and sports venues. It is scheduled to open in two stages — one year after the games in July 2013 and around Easter 2014.

London Legacy Development Corporation head Andrew Altman said the plans would take a “huge construction project” costing 500 million pounds ($807 million) to bring to fruition.

More Olympics coverage from Washington Post Sports:

Park at site of Olympics to fully open year and half after games

Torch lit in Greece as relay begins

Cuban-born Danell Leyva is a multi-medal threat for U.S. gymnastics

By  |  10:33 AM ET, 05/11/2012

 
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