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The O2

Blackwall Peninsula, Greenwich

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Location

Address

Blackwall Peninsula, Greenwich, England, United Kingdom SE10 0BB

Bordering Streets

Drawdock Road
Edmund Halley Way

Neighborhood

Greenwich

Fast Facts

Also Known As

The O2 Arena

Formerly Known As

• The Millennium Dome

Built

1999

Maximum Height

311 feet / 95 meters

One of the most admired and hated buildings of the late 20th century, the former Millennium Dome's lofty goals were also its downfall.

It was one of 200 projects in the United Kingdom created to mark the turn of the millennium. From December 31, 1999 to December 31, 2000 the dome featured such exhibits as a walk-through body and a huge model of a beating heart. Critics called it "crass" and overly politically correct. The dome also acted a showcase of the best Britain had to offer the world. Unfortunately, not enough of the world was interested in what Britain has to offer to make the venture profitable.

The cost of admission was £20, a price some considered prohibitive for ordinary people, but one that the Millennium Commission decided was necessary to build the structure without taxpayer money. But even before the dome opened, the usual politicians chided the project as a boondoggle. However, the chorus of naysayers was joined by a list of rather rational people who also smelled doom for the dome. It attracted only half of the 12 million people expected during its time as the Millennium Dome.

While the dome fell hundreds of millions of pounds short of its goal in short order, dome defenders say it brought a measure of prosperity to a bleak swath of land along the Thames. To be sure, the project created 2,000 construction jobs plus thousands more to keep the affair running. It also cleaned up and put to use 300 acres of contaminated real estate and brought billions of tourist dollars south of the city.

The dome has since been redeveloped and reopened as a massive entertainment center, with shops, restaurants, concerts, and more. The goal now is to marry this with residential, office, and commercial development to turn the are into a sustainable neighborhood.

Raw Data

Construction Start

1997

Construction End

1999

Cost

£789,000,000

Size[Explanation ♐]

Maximum Height: 311 feet / 95 meters

Noteworthy Facts

• The fabric of the dome is designed to last 25 years.
• Each support pylon weighs 500 tons.
• From above, the dome and its twelve support pylons resemble a clock face and hour marks. This is a nod to Greenwich Mean Time, and the fact that the dome sits on the Prime Meridian.
• The first band to play a concert in The O2 was Bon Jovi.
• The dome is the subject of the Mark Knopfler song Silvertown Blues.
• This was a filming location for a 2007 episode of the television series The Amazing Race.
• This was the subject of a 2007 episode of the television series Doctor Who.

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Attributes

• entertainment - See more: (local) (region) (global)

People and Companies

Architecture Firm

Richard Rogers Partnership

Architect

Richard Rogers

Other Parties

Structural engineer: Buro Happold

Timeline

• June, 1996: The Greenwich Peninsula was chosen over Birmingham as the location for this project.
• 1997: Construction began.
• 1998: A time capsule was buried in the dome's foundation.
• October, 1998: The New Millennium Experience Company raised a public furor when it tried to trademark the London skyline. It withdrew its application.
• May, 1999: The London Underground North Greenwich station opened.
• June 22, 1999: The dome's structure was completed.
• 31 December, 1999: The Millennium Dome opened to the public.
• 4 March, 2000: Damien Nash became the 1,000,000th dome visitor.
• May, 2000: The Dome got a £29 million loan from the National Lottery to continue running.
• July, 2000: An analysis by accounting firm PriceWaterhouseCoopers concluded that the Dome was bankrupt.
• September, 2000: The Dome got a £49 million loan from the National Lottery to continue running.
• November, 2000: A government report slammed the dome's operators as too inexperienced to run such a massive operation, and placed the blame for the project's failure on NMEC's inability to control expenses.
• December 31, 2000: A crowd of 37,000 people attended the dome's closing celebration which was followed by a massive 12-hour rave on the grounds of the complex. Over the last year the dome was supposed to attract 12 million visitors. It actually only brought in six million.
• 2001: The British government tried to sell the dome. One consortium wanted to turn it into a business park.
• December 18, 2001: Virgin Radio reported that the Millennium Dome would be turned into an entertainment and sports venue. The British government came to an agreement with a multinational group of investors called Meridian Delta to lease the structure until the year 3000.
• May 26, 2002: BBC Radio Five reported that the British government is considering a plan to give the Millennium Dome away to a private company for free. In return, the government would get a share of the operating profits.
• May 26, 2002: News Direct 97.3 reports the BBC Radio Five report is wrong.
• December, 2003: The dome was temporarily used for a winter festival.
• December, 2004: The dome was temporarily used as a homeless shelter.
• May 31, 2005: The dome was renamed The O2. O2 agreed to pay six million pounds a year for the naming rights.
• June 24, 2007: The dome reopened to the public after a £600 million renovation by HOK Sport + Venue + Event and Buro Happold.
• November 7, 2008: This building was named the world's ugliest building by CNN Europe.

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