ArcelorMittal Orbit, The Craziest Slide In The World Is Added To London’s Olympic Monument

Hosting privileges for major international athletic events from the World Cup to the Olympics never fail to leave behind the same mess for the world’s largest cities to deal with: what does anyone do with hundreds of millions of dollars of newly constructed athletic venues, commissioned sculptures and spectator and athlete villages that largely outlive their usefulness after about four weeks?

Following the 2012 Summer Olympics, London embraced a notion any fan of “The Simpsons” could probably get behind: monument-slash-Super-Happy-Fun-Slide.

For example, following the 1976 Summer Olympics, Montreal’s multipurpose Olympic Stadium and the surrounding Olympic Park primarily served as the home of Major League Baseball’s Montreal Expos until the team made tracks for Washington, D.C., in the United States and became the Nationals in 2004. Other cities have turned the handsome temporary residences into affordable multi-family housing. Still other hosts in economically challenged countries such as Brazil and Russia allow their obscenely expensive construction to become opulent playgrounds for local wildlife and even less savory creatures.

Today, construction is nearly complete on the city’s reinvention of the ArcelorMittal Orbit sculpture erected for the 2012 games as a magnificent attraction with a spiraling slide downward from its towering observation deck, right on pace to re-open this June. To say the results are spectacular would be an understatement.

The slide designed by partnership by ArcelorMittal Orbit creator Anish Kapoor and artist Carsten Höller will send visitors 178 meters in length on a 76-meter-high drop down a combined 30 sections and a dozen twists and turns, including one particularly spectacular corkscrew element called the Bettfeder (“bedspring” in German) and a final 50-meter straight stretch back to Earth, in about 40 seconds. The world’s tallest and longest tunnel slide will accelerate visitors up to 15 mph (24 km/h) through both dark sections and transparent polycarbonate windows that overlook Olympic Park. Combining each of the stainless steel sections together required the design team to innovate a complex new system of ropes and pulleys tailored especially to the project.

Organizers hope that interest in the ArcelorMittal Orbit and its £5 (US$7) admission price to experience the slide on top of the initial entry cost will kickstart a renaissance of its surrounding East London neighborhood. Tickets for the attraction’s June 24 opening are now available online.

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