ArcelorMittal Orbit, Stratford, London

Designed by Anish Kapoor with Cecil Balmond of Arup
also Ushida Findlay Architects
Date Built
2012 for the London Olympics
Re-opeing after Olympics in 2014
Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, Stratford
Anish Kapoor's Orbit tower is the tallest piece of public art in the UK.  Featuring a looping lattice of tubular steel, it rises to 115m making it 22m taller than the Statue of Liberty.  The structure received a number of uncomplimentary reviews before and after its construction but it proved to be one of the most popular attractions in the Olympic Park in London with many visitors unable to get tickets to go up to its viewing platforms.  London Mayor, Boris Johnson said of the tower that, " The Olympic Park is going to have lots of fantastic buildings in it already. You’ve got the sports venues and an incredible shopping centre in Westfield, but we felt that it really needed something extra – it needed a landmark for the east London skyline. I wanted something that would serve as a visitor attraction both in Olympic Games time and in legacy and after 2013, so that Londoners, their families, visitors and tourists – everybody from around the world – will come to this site for generations to come."

Kapoor's design, created in collaboration with structural engineer Cecil Balmond, was selected from a number of submissions by a 9 person panel and in large part paid for by Laksmi Mittal.  Kapoor says of the Orbit that,  “I wanted the sensation of instability, something that was continually in movement. Traditionally a tower is pyramidal in structure, but we have done quite the opposite, we have a flowing, coiling form that changes as you walk around it. … It is an object that cannot be perceived as having a singular image, from any one perspective. You need to journey round the object, and through it. Like a Tower of Babel, it requires real participation from the public. ... There is a kind of medieval sense to it of reaching up to the sky, building the impossible. A procession, if you like. It's a long winding spiral: a folly that aspires to go even above the clouds and has something mythic about it.”

Following the Closing Ceremony for the Paralympic Games in 2012 the Olympic Park closed and an extensive reconstruction program began.  Several temporary structures were dismantled and the park was redesigned in preparation for its reopening in 2014 as a public park known as the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.  The ArcelorMittal Orbit will be a prominent feature of that park.