Tag Archives: David Mark

The London Eye

Although the latest and newest of London’s great landmarks, the London Eye has rapidly become one of its most popular. 3.5 million visitors per year pack like cattle into the queuing channels that stretch back from the river alongside County Hall, and wait for hours for a 45-minute whirl through the sky above the Thames.

Originally named the Millenium Wheel, and quickly dubbed “the big bike wheel”, the Eye was commissioned to mark the turn of the 21st century. The spinning circle of the Eye is a metaphor for the passage of time.

A view from the Eye
A view from the Eye

This great feat of architecture, engineering and design was masterminded by husband and wife team David Mark and Julia Barfield. The massive 2,100-ton structure was built further along the Thames then transported down the river in sections and assembled by a giant floating crane, probably something a lot bigger than you’re able to hire from companies, if you’re looking on hiring a crane that is. There could be various factors to be taken into consideration before you choose to hire/rent one in order to ensure speed aligns with safety. Cranes are normally equipped with several accessories and functionalities, steel wire ropes, for instance. There could be various benefits to choosing the right accessory. If you are interested in that sort of information, you can learn about it here.

Howbeit, the official opening, and inaugural spin took place on December 31, 1999. At its highest point, the Eye is 135 meters high. Its 32 air-conditioned glass observation capsules, each accommodating 25 passengers, give a spectacular 40-kilometer view over London.

The London Eye was the tallest wheel in the world until 2006 when it was eclipsed by the Star of Nanchang and shortly thereafter by the Singapore flyer. Now it seems, every second city has its own Eye in the sky.

While it has the look of a towering Ferris wheel, the Eye offers none the thrills. Apart from the quick and measured step into and out of the moving capsules, a turn in the Eye is a somewhat tame experience, not unlike a slow, gentle and silent scenic circle in a plane. Sponsors, British Airways, offer the same kinds of “This-is-your-Captain-speaking’ welcome on embarkation, as well as in-flight cautions about refraining from smoking, eating, drinking and leaning on doors (– as if!) and “We hope you enjoyed your flight” farewells as any plane trip. However, the panorama of London and the Thames is breathtaking. The close-up view of the hub and spokes of the huge, turning wheel and the companion capsules hanging above and below is awe-inspiring.

For the vertiginous and claustrophobic, however, the Eye is as lovely from below and afar, as from inside and atop. From any vantage point, it looks sensational; it is beautifully seen from both the Westminster and the Hungerford bridges, looking from Embankment across the Thames, approaching from Waterloo past Shell Centre or strolling down Southbank. It is stunning by night, a radiant circle of neon suspended in the dark and at New Year, it is a shower of brilliant lights as fireworks explode around it.

The Eye is a feature of the city skyline now, just as the Eiffel tower is part of the Paris horizon. Just like Gustave Eiffel’s tower on the Champ de Mars, the initial appearance of Mark and Barfield’s Eye on Southbank provoked fierce controversy and debate with the cons condemning it as an eyesore and a waste of money and the pros defending it as a monumental achievement of design, architecture and engineering. Just as the Eiffel Tower is a symbol of the French reach into the twentieth century, so too, the Eye is a symbol of the English turn into the twenty-first. And in the same way, as the Eiffel Tower has endured to become a Paris icon, so too is the Eye becoming a London icon.