|Alternative names||Millennium Tower|
Portsmouth, England, UK
|Antenna spire||170 m (560 ft)|
|Roof||110 m (360 ft)|
|Top floor||105 m (344 ft)|
|Design and construction|
|Architect||HGP Greentree Allchurch Evans|
|Developer||The Millennium Commission|
|Structural engineer||Scott Wilson
Spinnaker Tower is a 170-metre (560 ft) landmark tower in Portsmouth, England, UK. It is the centrepiece of the redevelopment of Portsmouth Harbour, which was supported by a National Lottery grant. Its shape was chosen by Portsmouth residents from a selection. The tower, designed by local firm HGP Architects and the engineering consultants Scott Wilson and built by Mowlem, reflects Portsmouth's maritime history by its being modelled after a sail. The tower was opened on 18 October 2005.
The tower is owned by Portsmouth City Council, but operationally managed by Continuum Leading Attractions, a cultural attractions group based in York. Continuum also run five other visitor attractions across the country.
The tower, at a height of 170 m above sea level, is 2 1⁄2 times as high as Nelson's Column, making it the tallest accessible structure in the United Kingdom outside London. The tower is visible for miles around Portsmouth, changing the horizon of the area. It can be seen from the Isle of Wight and the Manhood Peninsula.
The tower represents sails billowing in the wind, a design accomplished using two large, white, sweeping metal arcs, which give the tower its spinnaker sail design. The steelwork was fabricated by Butterley Engineering. At the top is a triple observation deck, providing a 350° view of the city of Portsmouth, the Langstone and Portsmouth harbours, and a viewing distance of 37 kilometres (23 mi). The highest of the three observation platforms, the crow's nest, has a wire mesh roof, allowing visitors to be in the elements. Windows extend to above head height, so it is not possible to get a view unobstructed by glass. The glass floor is the largest in Europe. The tower has a design lifetime of 80 years.
Planning began in 2000, and construction began 2001, and was completed in mid-2005, due to repeated delays and extra funding requests by the builders Mowlem. This was six years later than the planned opening date of 1999, chosen to coincide with Millennium celebrations. The tower, originally called Portsmouth Millennium Tower, was renamed Spinnaker Tower.
The project was over budget, with an overall cost of £35.6 million for the tower alone. Taxpayers were not meant to fund the tower, but Portsmouth City Council eventually contributed £11.1 million towards construction.
In March 2004, Portsmouth Council's former leader Cllr Leo Madden resigned from leading the Labour Group on the Council after a highly critical report of the council's handling of the project and failure to exploit revenue opportunities, such as the Millennium. Barry Smith, the project's legal advisor, also retired after being suspended on full pay, mostly due to controversy over the contract with the builders, which at one point would have cost the council more to cancel than to complete.
The tower has had a number of issues since opening, including a malfunctioning external glass lift. During the late construction a protester from the rights group Fathers 4 Justice scaled the tower wearing a high-visibility jacket unfurling a banner in the process. Another incident happened a year later when a base jumper managed to get past site security and base jump off the Spinnaker Tower, he quickly ran off site after parachuting down.
The tower was dedicated on 16 October 2005 and opened two days later. On opening day, the Tower's project manager, David Greenhalgh, and representatives for Mowlem and Maspero were stranded in the tower's malfunctioning external lift (built by Maspero) for an hour and a half. Abseiling engineers were called to rescue them. Some, including the franchise's chief executive, felt it was rather fitting that these particular people were trapped. As of December 2012, the external lift was being removed.
Once open, the tower attracted crowds in excess of expectations, despite only the internal lift working since opening, with over 600,000 people visiting the tower in the first year. It is one of a number of observation towers around the world that have become popular, including Vancouver's Harbour Centre, Toronto's CN Tower, Blackpool's Tower and Shanghai's Oriental Pearl Tower.
In June 2006, the local press raised a concern that the tower may be forced to close. All public buildings in the UK require disabled access under the 1995 Disability Discrimination Act. With the external lift inoperative and only the internal lift for disabled access, the tower did not meet this requirement, and the tower operators could be sued under the act. This problem was rectified by investing in an evacuation chair, and training for staff to use it. In the event of evacuation, should the internal lift be inoperable, those unable to navigate the 570 steps can use the evacuation chair.
The Spinnaker, being a southern landmark, features on the BBC South Today news programme. It also features on ITV News.
In June 2009, Tower operators succeeded in gaining permission for a free fall ride to be attached to the Tower. As of 2011 this has only been a plan.
- The Magic Numbers played a live acoustic set at the Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth on 20 February 2007.
- The tower hosted the third of BBC Radio 1 DJ Annie Nightingale's live annual 'tower broadcasts' on 21 September 2006, featuring Santos and The Plump DJs, following similar shows from the BT Tower, London and the Television Tower, Berlin.
- Spinnaker Tower hosted one of the regional events for the BBC's Children in Need events in 2006. This involved the mascot of the event, Pudsey Bear, abseiling down the structure.
- Blue Peter recorded the 2006 Book of the Year Award inside the tower.
- Contestants on The Biggest Loser had to climb over 1500 steps to the top of the tower as part of their weight-loss task during February 2011
- Four Weddings featured the Spinnaker Tower during an episode, it filmed the wedding ceremony and reception at the tower during Season Two in 2010.
- BBC's Stargazing Live was hosted and filmed at the Spinnaker Tower as part of a series of free local events in 2012.
- Cbeebies programme Nina and the Neurons Go Engineering featured an episode set at the Tower in 2013, looking at the strength of the glass floor.
- Spinnaker Tower at CTBUH Skyscraper Database
- Spinnaker Tower at Emporis
- Spinnaker Tower at SkyscraperPage
- Spinnaker Tower at Structurae
- "Spinnaker Tower Also known as Portsmouth Millenium Tower". Skyscraper News. 8 December 2012. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
- LUSAS, 4 November 2005. Spinnaker Tower, Portsmouth. Retrieved 17 September 2006.
- Staff writers (18 October 2005). "Spinnaker opens five years late". BBC News. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
- Staff writers (20 May 2008). "City's troubled tower lift shuts". BBC News. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
- Staff writers (30 December 2004). "Father's rights man scales tower". BBC News.
- Staff writers (12 August 2005). "Parachutist jumps from Spinnaker". BBC News.
- Staff writers (16 October 2005). "Troubled Spinnaker given blessing". BBC News. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
- Staff writers (18 October 2005). "Council boss trapped in Spinnaker". BBC News. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
- "Spinnaker's big day hit by a towering calamity". Portsmouth Today. 18 October 2005. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
- "Red faces over Portsmouth's showcase project". The Daily Telegraph. 19 October 2005. Retrieved 28 April 2006.
- "Spinnaker Tower". Mott MacDonald. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
- "Closure threat to Spinnaker Tower". Portsmouth Today. 4 July 2006. Retrieved 3 March 2011.
- "Spinnaker Tower freefall plan approved". Portsmouth News. 29 June 2009. Retrieved 21 June 2013.
- "Portsmouth Spinnaker Tower (Regeneration Winner 2006)". RICS. Retrieved 26 October 2007.[dead link]
- Wave 105 Retrieved 22 March 2009.
- Annie Nightingale. "Spinnaker Tower show". BBC Radio 1. Retrieved 1 March 2011.
- "Children in Need: Pudsey up and down the Tower!". BBC Hampshire. November 2006. Retrieved 4 March 2011.
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