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Olympic Park sculpture tower nears completion

Site workers were this week beginning to put the finishing touches to the Olympic Park’s £22.7M ArcelorMittal Orbit as the sculpture was prepared for handover to the Olympic legacy organisation.

One of the key features of the 114.5m tall sculpture, a solid steel canopy at its base which greets visitors, was installed at the incorrect height and must now be repositioned, it was revealed last week by its sculptor Anish Kapoor.

It is currently at a height of around 3.5m but will be lowered to between 2.6m and 2.7m, said Kapoor, adding that the correction was part of the “process” of installing the sculpture.

He said that the canopy installation represented one of the most significant milestones.

“I was very excited when the canopy went in - it’s at the wrong height for now, but so what?” he said.

Kapoor, along with co-designer and renowned structural engineer Cecil Balmond, was addressing a group of invited guests at the unveiling of the viewing platforms at the top of the attraction. The 20m diameter observation building comprises two platforms at heights of 76m and 80m.

The canopy and observation deck details including partial external walkways and concave and convex mirrors are examples of Kapoor’s trademark interest in voids and space.

Balmond credited the engineering team from Arup, main contractor Sir Robert McAlpine, steel fabricator Watson Steel Structures and its sister company Steelcraft Erection Services for their part in making the structure a reality.

Around 2,000t of steel was supplied by ArcelorMittal, which has put up £19.6M of the funding. The London Development Agency, before its abolition in March this year, had provided the remaining £3.1M.

The sculpture is to be handed over to the London Legacy Development Corporation later this month and its viewing platforms will be accessible during the London 2012 Games, at a cost of £15 for an adult ticket. It will then close while the park is redeveloped and reopen by Easter 2014 (see box).

Olympic Park reopening

The London Legacy Development Corporation last week revealed the timescales for the phased redevelopment and reopening of the Olympic Park after the 2012 Games.

The South Park, which includes the ArcelorMittal Orbit, Aquatics Centre and the Stadium, will not reopen until Easter 2014.

A phased opening of the park will begin at the North Park, which houses the Velopark, from July 2013. This area will also begin accommodating construction of the first residential neighbourhood, Chobham Manor in the summer of 2013.

It was also announced this week that the bidding process for use of the Olympic Stadium in legacy mode has been extended by eight weeks to give more time to “address a number of issues” that have arisen since the tender process began in January.

The decision was due to have been made this month.

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