MNN Galleries

17 sensational observation towers that aren't in Paris

By: Matt Hickman on Aug. 5, 2016, 10:39 a.m.
The ArcelorMittal Orbit in London

Photo: Gary Ullah/flickr

3 of 19

ArcelorMittal Orbit

How to describe the most difficult-to-pronounce observation tower to hit the United Kingdom? We're not entirely sure!

Designed by renowned artist Anish Kapoor and designer Cecil Balmond of global engineering firm Arup, the ArcelorMittal Orbit is both a functional observation tower and a sculpture. In fact, at 376 feet, it's Britain's tallest sculpture and largest work of public art. Erected to be an everlasting fixture of London's Olympic Park, ArcelorMittal Orbit, like many great works of public art, is polarizing. The tower boasts both fervent admirers and detractors, with the latter camp referring to it as "an enormous wire-mesh fence that has got hopelessly snagged round the bell of a giant French horn" (The Sunday Times) and "a catastrophic collision between two cranes" (The Daily Mail).

Constructed from 2,000 metric tons of largely recycled steel (ArcelorMittal is the world's largest steel company), the swooping, swirling structure certainly can't be called boring as there's a lot to do at the tower aside from gawk at it from a distance: abseiling, noshing, after-hour partying, hoofing it down a 455-step staircase and, of course, taking in truly spectacular panoramic views of Olympic Park and the city beyond from the main observation deck.