B goes out with a Bang as £1.42 million Manchester sculpture is scrapped

By Culture24 Staff | 04 August 2009
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A picture of a metal structure being worked on

The B of the Bang (above) cost £1.42 million and £300,000 in subsequent safety checks, almost doubling the initial £750,000 cost prediction. Pic: Len Clark

The B of the Bang, the enormous Manchester public sculpture inspired by the energy of an athlete at the starting gun and launched by Olympic hero Linford Christie, has reached the end of its disastrous run after the last of the 180 spikes on the 184ft high landmark were cut off for recycling.

Councillors decided Thomas Heatherwick's monument to the 2002 Commonwealth Games would be dismantled earlier this year. The structure cost almost double the £750,000 price tag designers had originally predicted, opened two years late and faced safety concerns when several of its spikes fell to the ground after it was completed in 2005.

A picture of a sky-high metal structure being dismantled

The structure suffered problems almost immediately after being set up in 2005. Pic: Len Clark

Heatherwick's studio paid £1.7 million in damages for the partial collapses, augmented by £300,000 in tax funds spent on checks and maintenance as a result. The remaining steel core will be kept in storage, with no plans announced for future usage of it.

"Manchester would not once again be a world-class city if over the last decade we had not been prepared to be bold and visionary," said Manchester City Council Leader Sir Richard Leese.

"B of the Bang is a magnificent artistic statement that was just right for modern Manchester. It is regrettable that technical problems have undermined that artistic vision.

A picture of a metal structure in the sky

Manchester City Council Leader Sir Richard Leese defended the Bang as "a magnificent artistic statement". Pic: Len Clark

"After taking into account expert views, the only practical alternative is to take the sculpture down. We have committed ourselves to continue to work with the artist to determine whether there is a robust and affordable strategy for the re-construction of the structure on the site.

"We have, however, made it clear that there will be no City Council funding made available to support its rebuilding even if the further work shows this to be a feasible option."

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