Thursday, August 9, 2012

Cruising Olympic Park

Take a stroll with me through Olympic Park. When early plans were made to host the London 2012 Olympics, as many existing venues in London as possible were selected for use, but there was an enormous project underway to build an Olympic Park that would be environmentally sound, and could be converted into a useable community following the Olympics completion.

The first buildings greeting you upon entrance are those of the Aquatic Center. In the foreground, you see the facility used for water polo, and behind it

the beautiful Aquatic Center which features an S-shaped roof inspired by the flow of water. Although it will be reduced in size going forward, it will become part of the community with 2 50 meter pools and a 25 meter diving pool, all with moveable floors.

Over a year ago, we visited the construction site, and wondered what the red tower might be. Aquatic buildings in the background here....

And now we know--it's the Orbit, which at 377 feet is the tallest art structure in Britain. Designed by internationally acclaimed Anish Kapoor, it has received mixed reviews, but with an elevator carrying you up to the observation deck which offers stunning views I am told, a restaurant yet to open, 455 steps to descend and a fascinating twisted design, it hopes to remain a huge attraction in the future. 

Closing temporarily after the Olympics until late 2013, it will give everyone a chance to decide if they admire it or not. 

Remember, the Eiffel Tower was hated at first, and almost taken down, but look how it is adored today!

Reigning side by side along the Orbit is the centerpiece of the park: The Olympic Stadium. Currently able to hold 80,000 spectators, it is possible to remove 25,000 seats if the new tenant so desires. Currently, that is up for grabs, as a final decision has not been made about its future. West Ham football team was one of the forerunners who were being considered as tenants, but that remains to be seen.

At the height of speculation about just how the Olympic flame would be lit, Hubby speculated the Orbit would unwind and reach over into the stadium to light the fire. I must admit that would have been pretty spectacular!

What happens to the Park? A £300 million plan is in place to convert the park into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park with green space

and facilities that will become an active part of a revitalized community in what was once

one of the poorest areas of London. What once was an undeveloped area in east London, will be regenerated into a vital community

that will be supported by new parks, open spaces, community facilities and excellent transport links.

The basketball arena is one of those temporary structures that will be removed and relocated.

A Road Cycle Circuit and Mountain Bike course will be added to the Velodome and BMX Circuit to create a state of the art Velopark, available primarily to the public but also to be used as training facilities as needed.

The Olympic Village, which has been home to 17,000 athletes and officials will become part of Stratford City. With 3600 apartments, it will be a hub of commerce, retail and leisure, once the plans have come to fruition.
Just in front and to the left, the white roof you can see is the home of NBC broadcasting. Stay tuned for more about that in the next blog.

BBC studios are perched on top of 18 recycled shipping containers, and with a staff of 765, their number pales in comparison to the swarm of 2,700 staff members of NBC who are here in London to cover the big event.

And what would the Olympics be without the presence of that international phenomenon knows as McDonald's? 

The biggest McDonald's in the world has been built in the park--all temporary with 75% of the building materials to be used after the tear-down to aid in future company buildings.
With a capacity to seat 1500, and serve 1000 people in an hour this 3000 square feet restaurant is a sight to see in itself. And so we did, dining in style with good friends on Big Macs and Quarter Pounders!
And to end on a piece of trivia, where is the next biggest McDonald's in the world?

If you guessed Moscow, you would have been right!!

The "people" of the Olympics coming up in the next blog, so come back for more.



  1. ha ha ha ha --- I LOVE Mike's guess as to how the Olympic flame would be lit by that (ahem) art sculpture. Sue

  2. Oh to be there. Boggles the mind how many NBC people are there, but imagine the electrical & technology required. The talent is only the end isn't it? Love from Texas....

  3. Great post, the park is incredible and has such a fantastic energy. We mananged to attend two events and are hoping for a return for the Paralympics too. Your photos really capture a slice of the action.

  4. Thank you so much for the inside facts about all I have been watching on TV. I so look forward to any posting, but yours about the Olympics have been so informative. What is the next big event for London? Maybe just a breather??? Suzan