Ushida Findlay Architects has been appointed to work on Anish Kapoor and Cecil Balmond’s controversial £19 million ArcelorMittal Orbit tower at the Olympic Park in London
Arup assigned the high-profile job to the London-based practice, which will advise on architectural elements of the 115m-high steel sculpture, including public access, viewing platform details and landscaping elements.
Kathryn Findlay, director at Ushida Findlay Architects, said: ‘I have long admired Kapoor’s work and found my previous collaborations with Balmond inspirational. The ArcelorMittal Orbit is a real turning point in art and therefore a very exciting project for me.’
Findlay worked with Balmond on the BBC’s aborted music centre in White City and they have put in a bid together for the revamp of the V&A in Dundee.
Kapoor and Balmond landed the commission after beating rival designs by Caruso St John Architects and Antony Gormley. Findlay’s appointment comes after organisers initially said all design work would be handled by the artist and engineer, while construction is to be carried out by Sir Robert McAlpine.
Hanif Kara of engineer Adams Kara Taylor said: ‘Having an architect from the beginning [gives the sculpture] a meaning between steel, art and structure.’
Critic Charles Jencks also welcomed the appointment. ‘I think it’s great, Findlay is very talented,’ he said. ‘My only worry is that there are too many chiefs. Kapoor and Balmond are both very strongminded, but Findlay will be able to handle the kind of work a job this size needs.’
Findlay returned to practice in 2009 following a five-year hiatus after her practice folded. This was despite a string of high-profile projects, including a residence in Doha.