Anything Goes

I’m starting to sympathize with Guy de Maupassant, who hated the Eiffel Tower so much that he is said to have regularly had dinner in its restaurant to avoid looking at it.  I’m not talking about the Eiffel Tower, of course, but the Orbit Tower, erected on the occasion of the London Olympics. Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond’s design surely represents the nadir of twenty-first century architecture, structurally feckless (at least to my eye), needlessly complicated, and downright ugly. It puts me in mind of the tower that appeared for the 1976 Montreal Olympics. Its ostensible function was to support the retractable stadium roof, but its actual purpose was to satisfy Mayor Jean Drapeau’s desire for a vertical icon. The tower was unsuccessful, both technically (the roof never worked), and iconically. Mayor Boris Johnson says that the Orbit Tower is “definitely an artwork.” Well, it’s definitely a something.

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