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B of Bang to be dismantled

The faulty B of the Bang sculpture at Sportcity in east Manchester is to be dismantled and stored, Manchester City Council’s Executive committee decided today. The intention is to rebuild the sculpture at a later date, but the Council has said there is no further council funding available

A report, prepared by Manchester City Council,was considered at a City Council executive committee meeting last night and recommended the structure is dismantled and reinstated at a later date to allow time to raise £3M for repairs.

The structure has been plagued by problems since it was unveiled in January 2005. It cost twice the projected spend, with a final bill of £1.4M. Since it opened, the 56m tall sculpture has suffered from its characteristic spikes falling off.

This led to a law suit between the client Manchester City Council and the design team of Thomas Heatherwick Studio and its subcontractors Packman Lucas, Flint & Neill and Westbury Structures.
An out of court settlement was reached, with the designers paying the council £1.7M in compensation (NCE 20 November 2008).

The report prepared by the city council for its executive committee recommended dismantling the sculpture in the short term as it minimises monitoring and maintenance expense and allows the
site to be incorporated into redevelopment plans for the area, which the Executive approved.

The sculpture will be dismantled and parts of the sculpture – the core and possibly the legs – will be stored for possible use as part of a rebuilt structure on the Sportcity site, either in its current location or elsewhere on the site as part of its comprehensive redevelopment. However around £3M would need to be raised to re erect the structure.

The current remedial plans for the structure include replacing the existing steel spikes with composite carbon/glass fibre spikes and adding features to the spikes that would reduce the wind induced vibration.

"Thomas Heatherwick’s B of the Bang is a magnificent artistic statement that was just right for modern Manchester," said Leader of Manchester City Council Sir Richard Leese.

"It is regrettable that technical problems have undermined that artistic vision. And so, after taking into account expert views, the only practical alternative is to take the sculpture down. We have committed ourselves to continue to work with the artist to determine whether there is a robust and affordable strategy for the re-construction of the structure on the site.

"We have, however, made it clear that there will be no City Council funding made available to support it’s rebuilding even if the further work shows this to be a feasible option."

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