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Giant red tower to be 2012 centerpiece

By Melissa Gray, CNN
  • Looping tower of steel will be twice height of Statue of Liberty, taller than Big Ben
  • Visitors will be able to ride an elevator to the top for views across London
  • Will be named the "ArcelorMittal Orbit" after main sponsors of $28.9M project
  • India-born Kapoor has lived and worked in London since the 1970s

London, England (CNN) -- World-renowned sculptor Anish Kapoor has been chosen to design a skyscraping sculpture that will be a main attraction at London's Olympic Park in 2012, city officials announced Wednesday.

The "continuous looping lattice of tubular steel" will stand at 115 meters, or 377 feet -- more than twice the height of the Statue of Liberty in New York and a few stories higher than the Big Ben clock tower in London.

Visitors will be able to ride an elevator to the top for views across the 250-acre Olympic Park and the London skyline. They'll also have the option of walking down a spiral staircase, the city announced.

The sculpture will be named the "ArcelorMittal Orbit," after the international steel company, which is funding up to 16 million pounds ($24.2 million) of the project's price tag of 19.1 million pounds ($28.9 million), the city said.

When finished, the sculpture will be between the Olympic Stadium and the Aquatics Center, two of the main venues in the park. London Mayor Boris Johnson said he hoped the sculpture would join the long list of city landmarks.

"Anish Kapoor's inspired artwork will truly encapsulate the energy and spirit of London during the Games and as such will become the perfect iconic cultural legacy," he said.

Bombay, India-born Kapoor has lived and worked in London since the 1970s and has become one of the world's most famous contemporary artists. His popular works include the Cloud Gate sculpture in Chicago's Millennium Park, which resembles a giant mirrored bean and gracefully reflects the city skyline. He also recently finished a successful show at London's Royal Academy of Arts.

"I am deeply honored to be invited to undertake this challenging commission," Kapoor said in a statement. "I am particularly attracted to it because of the opportunity to involve members of the public in a particularly close and personal way. It is the commission of a lifetime."

Kapoor's design was chosen from a long list of proposals by Johnson and British Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell, along with Lakshmi Mittal, the chairman and chief executive of ArcelorMittal, the city said. They consulted an advisory panel of experts in art and design.

Kapoor plans to work on the project with structural designer Cecil Balmond, who also lives in London.

In unveiling the sculpture, ArcelorMittal was also announced as a 2012 Olympics sponsor.