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Quick Facts about the Orbit Tower

  • The proper name is the “ArcelorMittal Orbit”
  • The Orbit’s height is 114.5 metres or 376 feet – so taller than the Statue of Liberty but shorter than the Eiffel Tower. Big Ben is 96.3 metres (316 ft) tall, Nelson’s Column is 51.5 metres
  • Original cost £19.1 million with £16 million coming from Lakshmi Mittal, Britain’s richest man.
  • Postal Address is in London E20, a new postcode for the Olympic Park area.
  • Designed by Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond
  • Lakshmi Mittal is Britain’s richest man according to the Sunday Times Rich List survey.
  • The steel used to build the Orbit weighed 2,000 tonnes of which 63 percent was recycled steel
  • If you stretched the rings out as one long ladder it would be about 560 metres, the same size as the diameter of the asteroid that could hit the Earth in the year 2182.


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More Orbit Tower Facts

  • 19,000 litres of red paint were used to paint the Orbit Tower
  • The lift takes 34 seconds to travel from ground level to the highest of two viewing platforms, at 80 metres. There are 2 lifts, each can carry 21 people.
  • Up to 5,000 visitors a day can be accommodated, but ticketed access during the Olympics was restricted to far less than this.
  • In the public consultation, only 118 comments were received in total with only 39 percent writing in favour and 21 percent not providing a valid postcode.
  • Balfour Beatty has been appointed as the operations agent for the ArcelorMittal Orbit Tower and will also run services and facilities for the legacy Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park after the London 2012 Olympic Games are over and the refurbishment of the area is complete, expected in 2014.
  • 250 coloured spotlights illuminate the red tubular steel and observation deck at night.
  • Anish Kapoor’s Orbit tower concept was chosen from a total of 50 proposals including a shortlisted design by Antony Gormley.  Gormley’s vision was of a statue in which people moved around like the blood cells of a body, but he refused the organisers’ insistence on putting a lift in it, and didn’t get chosen.
  • Orbit is one of the tallest structures ever to have been built without scaffolding. All of the red steel was put together by just four men, with the help of two cherry pickers and a crane.
  • The staircase down which visitors are encouraged to descend is 350 metres long and has 455 steps.


Joe Alexander:

The ArcelorMittal Orbit is a vanity project for Boris Johnson and its billionaire funder Lakshmi Mittal

Boris Johnson, Mayor of London:

This sculpture is a masterpiece, far better and more rewarding up close than it appears at a distance. The steel loops are an arterial red, writhing and shifting against each other beneath the blue sky. Anish Kapoor already has many fans, but he has excelled himself with this vast fallopian ampersand, this enigmatic hubble bubble, this proud vertical invitation to London 2012.

Oliver Wainwright of Building Design magazine:

Half of the steel isn’t doing a job for the height. It looks a contorted mass of entrails — being stretched and knotted into oblivion.

Martin Fletcher in The Times

It has been called the “Eyeful Tower”. It has been described as “Meccano on crack” and a “catastrophic collision between two cranes”. But the ArcelorMittal Orbit has emerged as an unlikely star of the London Olympic Games. Every ticket to go up the 377ft sculpture-cum-viewing tower has been sold.

Cecil Balmond, co-designer:

“We hope it will be a monument for London, that will stand for 50 years – though it might need a paint job by then – and that it will be a beacon, drawing people to the area.”

Laksmi Mittal, sponsoring steel magnate:

“It gives me great pride to see the ArcelorMittal Orbit standing not only as a completed work of public art but as a physical symbol of the Olympic spirit. It makes me very proud that ArcelorMittal plants from across the world contributed to this showcase of the strength and versatility of steel.”

Kathryn Findlay of Ushida Findlay Architects:

“It is experimental, it is unusual, it does question everything about what a tower is. It’s an unusual combination between art and architecture and engineering.”

Anish Kapoor, Artist:

Don’t you think it’s just amazing that they actually let us build this?

Sir David Tang, entrepreneur:

My main disappointment was that it wasn’t symmetrical. It wasn’t for no reason that the rococo movement, a paradigm of asymmetry, did not really last.

Construction Notes

  • Safety Record: There were no accidental deaths during the construction of the entire Olympic Park, the largest site in Europe at the time.
  • Pre-welded steel tubes were bolted together offsite like a jigsaw puzzle then the large pieces were transported to the site and put into place by four men, two cranes and a cherry picker. The largest structure to be built entirely without scafffolding.
  • There are 366 star nodes, each 4 metres tall, held together by 35,000 bolts.
  • It was decided to add a tuned mass damper, or pendulum, to prevent swaying motions building up from wind vibration, rather like that which ended up being retro-fitted to the Millennium bridge (wobbly bridge)
  • The staircase is made up of modules, constructed using spiral box sections up to 300mm deep. The sections had to be mandrel spiraled which was a new technique developed by Barnshaws Steel Bending, the worlds largest metal bending company.

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