Olympic attraction Orbit reaches its full height
The tallest piece of art in Britain reached its full height this afternoon with the topping out of the ArcelorMittal Orbit on the Olympic Park.
The 114.5m tall sculpture, designed by artists Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond, towers over the neighbouring Olympic Stadium and is destined to become a popular tourist attraction in its own right.
Two viewing platforms, 76m and 80m up, will give unrivalled views across London when it opens at next year's Olympic Games, and it could become a major money-spinner for the future development of the Park.
It will also give a birds-eye view of the 100m strait in the Stadium, so anyone who missed out on tickets to the 100m final could theoretically watch the event from the top of the sculpture.
The attraction will be owned by the Olympic Park Legacy Company and operated by an agent, due to be announced in January. The OPLC were tight-lipped about the cost of a ticket, but insisted it would be in line with other visitor attractions in London, such as the London Eye.
The OPLC's Edward Fane estimated that it will raise up to £10million a year for he OPLC, with a profit of about £2million a year, with up to one million visitors per annum expected.
He said: "The idea is to get people to come back again and again. It will be the only attraction of its type in east London and it's an iconic structure. The views will be unparallelled, not only over the Olympic Park, but also across to Canary Wharf and The O2 and towards central London.
"We're confident our business model is viable. The Westfield Stratford City, with 20million visitors heading to it every year, is right next door.
Visitors will be whisked up to the viewing platforms in a lift, and then can enjoy the views from the heady heights before making their own way down using the walkways incorporated in the design.
As well as being a tourist attraction the structure will also be available for hire for corporate events and private functions, including weddings.
ArcelorMittal have paid £19.6million towards its construction, while London's taxpayers have stumped up the other £3.1million of building costs.
The idea came from Mayor of London Boris Johnson and he was delighted to see the topping out completed.
He said: "What better calling card for London 2012 than a piece of truly spectacular modern British art to drive visitors to east London in perpetuity.
"It would have boggled the minds of the Romans. 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.
"As the final giant steel loop is swung into place, lifting the ArcelorMittal Orbit to its full height, we are truly witnessing the most significant iconic addition to London's skyline for decades."
Of course, the Mayor may have forgotten the likes of the Shard, the Gherkin and, of course, Canary Wharf, which are all iconic buildings in their own right.