Fourth-Place Medal

London’s Olympic tower gets panned by British press, looks like a roller coaster

The Orbit tower in London, a tall, twisting, red steel structure next to Olympic Stadium that adds a touch of modernity to the city's skyline, debuted Friday and is being drubbed in the British press, with critics calling it the "Eye-Ful Tower" and "the Godzilla of public art."

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It's what I imagine the inside of Space Mountain looks like.

Designed by award-winning artist Anish Kapoor, the tower stands 377 feet -- 22 feet higher than the Statue of Liberty. It features a 455-step stairway, two observation decks and a restaurant that offers 20-mile views of the capital city's skyline. Visitors can pay $24 to visit the landmark during the Games. It will reopen to the public on Easter 2014.

Kapoor was inspired by the Eiffel Tower and notes that the famed Paris landmark was equally disliked in its time.

"I've just been reading all the criticism the Eiffel Tower received upon its opening," he told reporters. "It was called the most horrendously ugly object but we don't think about it like that anymore."

But even he is surprised the Orbit got built. "Don't you think it's just amazing that they actually let us build this?" he asked The Guardian.

Critics have jumped on the Eiffel Tower comparison, making more puns than you can shake your latticed-steel at. A Times writer called it a "giant squiggle." London residents are fond of referring to it as "Boris's folly," a reference to London mayor Boris Johnson, who helped spearhead the project.  Another analyst called it a "mutant contortion."

Not everyone dislikes the structure. The Telegraph gave it a rave review, agreeing with Kapoor's assessment that Londoners would appreciate the tower far beyond the closing ceremony. There's a reasonable chance that happens. Kapoor's design has no relation to the Olympics other than it being built for the Olympics. There was no inspiration from athletics or togetherness or competition; it's a twisting, red helix that is meant to signify a number of discrete events. Its lack of Olympic coherence might make it relevant beyond the Games.

(AP)

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