Sunday, 14 March 2010

Millennium Dome

The Millennium Dome, often referred to simply as The Dome, is the original name of a large dome-shaped building, originally used to house the Millennium Experience, a major exhibition celebrating the beginning of the third millennium. Located on the Greenwich Peninsular in South East London, England, the exhibition opened to the public on 1 January 2000 and ran until 31 December 2000. The project and exhibition was the subject of considerable political controversy as it failed to attract the number of visitors anticipated, leading to recurring financial problems.
While all of the original exhibition and associated complex has since been demolished, the canopy or shell of the dome still exists, and it is now a key exterior feature of the The O2 entertainment district. The Prime Meridian passes the western edge of the Dome. The nearest London Underground station is North Greenwich on the Jubilee Line.
The dome is the largest of its type in the world. Externally, it appears as a large white marquee with twelve 100 m-high yellow support towers, one for each month of the year, or each hour of the clock face, representing the role played by Greenwich Mean Time. In plan view it is circular, 365 m in diameter — one metre for each day of the year — with scalloped edges. It has become one of the United Kingdom's most recognisable landmarks. It can easily be seen on aerial photographs of London. Its exterior is reminiscent of the Dome of Discovery built for the Festival of Britain in 1951.
The architect was Richard Rogers. He and the contractor was a joint venture company, McAlpine/Laing Joint Venture (MLJV) formed between Sir Robert McAlpine and Laing Management. The building structure was engineered by Buro Happold, and the entire roof structure weighs less than the air contained within the building. Although referred to as a dome it is not strictly one as it is not self-supporting, but is a mast-supported, dome-shaped cable network. For this reason, it has been disparagingly referred to as the Millennium Tent.
The canopy is made of PTFE-coated glass fibre fabric, a durable and weather-resistant plastic, and is 52 m high in the middle. Its symmetry is interrupted by a hole through which a ventilation shaft from the Blackwall Tunnel rises.
Apart from the dome itself, the project included the reclamation of the entire Greenwich Peninsula. The land was previously derelict and contaminated by toxic sludge from an earlier gasworks that operated from 1889 to 1985. The clean-up operation was seen by the then Deputy Prime Minister Michael Heseltine as an investment that would add a large area of useful land to the crowded capital. This was billed as part of a larger plan to regenerate a large, sparsely populated area to the east of London and south of the River Thames, an area initially called the East Thames Corridor but latterly marketed as the "Thames Gateway".
Background to the Dome project
The Dome project was conceived, originally on a somewhat smaller scale, under John Major's Conservative government, as a Festival of Britain or World's fair-type showcase to celebrate the third millennium. The incoming Labour government elected in 1997 under Tony Blair greatly expanded the size, scope and funding of the project. It also significantly increased expectations of what would be delivered. Just before its opening Blair claimed the Dome would be "a triumph of confidence over cynicism, boldness over blandness, excellence over mediocrity". In the words of BBC correspondent Robert Orchard, "the Dome was to be highlighted as a glittering New Labour achievement in the next election manifesto".
However, before its opening, The Dome was excoriated in Ian Sinclair's diatribe, Sorry Meniscus which accurately forecast the hype, the political posturing and the eventual disillusion. The post-exhibition plan had been to convert The Dome into a football stadium which would last for 25 years: Charlton Athletic at one point considered a possible move but instead chose to redevelop their own st
adium. Fisher Athletic were a local team interested in moving to the Dome, however they were considered to have too small a fan base to make this feasible. The Dome was planned to take over the functions performed by the London Area, after its closure, along with the Croydon Arena which is currently being built. This is the function which The O2 has now undertaken. (Pictured left: The Dome, seen from the Isle of Dogs).
After a private opening on the evening of 31 December 1999 the Millennium Experience at the Dome was open to the public for the whole of 2000, and contained a large number of attractions and exhibits.
The exhibits
The interior space was subdivided into 14 zones (with the lead designers of the zones):
Who we are:
Body, sponsored by Boots, supported by L'Oreal and Roche (Branson Coates Architecture)
Mind, sponsored by BAE Systems and Marconi (Office of Zaha Hadid)
Faith Eva Jiricna Architects with Jasper Jacobs Associates)
Self Portrait, sponsored by Marks & Spencer (Caribiner with Lorenzo Apicella at Pentagram), sculpture design by Gerald Scarfe
What we do:
Work, sponsored byManpower Inc
. (WORK)
Learning, sponsored by Tesco (WORK)
Rest (Richard Rogers Partnership)
Play (Land Design Studio)
Talk, sponsored by BT Group (Imagination Group)
Money, sponsored by the City of London (Caribiner with Bob Baxter at Amalgam)
Journey, sponsored by Ford Motor Company (Imagination Group)
Where we live:
Shared Ground, sponsored by Camelot Group plc (WORK)
Living Island (WORK)
Home Planet, sponsored by British Airways and BAA plc (Park Avenue Productions)
Some of the Zones were perceived as lacking in content. The Journey Zone, outlining the history and development of transport, was one of the few singled out for praise.
Surrounded by the zones was a performance area in the centre of the dome. With music composed by Peter Gabriel and an acrobatic cast of 160, the Millennium Dome Show was performed 999 times over the course of the year. Throughout the year, the specially-commissioned film Blackadder; Back and Forth was shown in Skyscape (a separate cinema on the site sponsored by Sky Television plc). There was also the McDonald's Our Town Story project in which each Local Education Authority in the UK was invited to perform a show of their devising which characterised their area and its people.
As well as the above, the first ever series of Techno Games was filmed there and shown on BBC
Two the same year.
Other attractions
There were a number of other attractions both in and outside of The Dome. Inside the Dome there was a play area named Timekeepers of the Millennium (featuring the characters Coggsley and Sprinx), The Millennium Coin Minting Press in association with the Royal Mint, the 1951 Festival of Britain Bus, and the Millennium Star Jewels (focus of the failed Millennium
Diamond heist).
Financial management problems
The project was largely reported by the press to have been a flop: badly thought-out, badly executed, and leaving the government with the embarrassing question of what to do with it afterwards. During 2000 the organisers repeatedly asked for, and received, more cash from the Millennium Commission, the Lottery body which supported it. Numerous changes at management and Board level, before and during the exhibition, had only limited, if any, results. Jennifer Page was sacked as chief executive of the New Millennium Experience Company just one month after the dome's opening. Press reports suggested that Blair personally placed a high priority on making the Dome a success. But part of the problem was that the financial predictions were based on an unrealistically high forecast of visitor numbers at 12 million. During the 12 months it was open there were approximately 6.5 million visitors — slightly more than the 6 million that attended the Festival of Britain, which only ran from May to September. Unlike the press, visitor feedback was extremely positive. It was the most popular tourist attraction in 2000, second was the London Eye; third was Alton Towers, which had been first in 1999.
According to the UK National Audit Office, the total cost of The Dome at the liquidation of the New Millennium Experience Company in 2002 was £789 million, of which £628 million was covered by National Lottery grants and £189 million through sales of tickets etc. A surplus of £25 million over costs meant that the full lottery grant was not required. However, the £603 million of lottery money was still £204 million in excess of the original estimate of £399 million required, due to the shortfall in visitor numbers.
The aftermath
It was, however, still of interest to the press, the government's difficulties in selling the Dome being the subject of much critical comment. The amount spent on maintaining the closed building was also criticised. Shortly after it had closed, Lord Falconer reported that The Dome was costing over £1 million per month to maintain.

Dispersal of exhibits
Following closure of the Dome, some Zones were dismantled by the sponsoring organisations, but much of the content was auctioned. This included a number of artworks specially commissioned from contemporary British artists. (Pictured right: The Millenium Dome at night, Sept 2000). A piece by Gavin Turk was sold for far below his then auction price though Turk stated that he did not think the piece had worked. The Timekeepers of the Millennium attraction was acquired by the Chessington World of Adventures theme park in Surrey. A unique record of the memorabilia and paraphernalia of the Millennium Experience is held by a private collector in the United States. Items such as kiosks, wastebins and assorted souvenirs appeared at the Dreamland Margate amusement park in Kent.
Temporary reopenings
Despite the ongoing debate about the dome's future use, the dome opened again during December 2003 for the Winter Wonderland 2003 experience. The event, which featured a large fun fair, ice rink, and other attractions, culminated in a laser and firework display on New Year's Eve. It also served as the venue for a number of free music festivals organised by the Mayor of London under the "Respect" banner.
Over the 2004 Christmas period, part of the main dome was used as a shelter for the homeless and others in need, organised by the charity Crisis after superseding the London Arena, which had previously hosted the event. In 2005, when work began for the redevelopment of the Dome, the London Arena hosted the event again.
Redevelopment and rebranding as The O2
By late 2000, a proposal had been made for a high-tech business park to be erected under the tent area, creating an "indoor city" complete with streets, parks, and buildings. The business park was actually the original 1996 proposal for the site of the peninsula before the plans for the Millennium Dome were proposed.
In December 2001, it was announced that Meridian Delta Ltd. had been chosen by the government to develop the Dome as a sports and entertainment centre, and to develop housing, shops and offices on 150 acres (0.6 km²) of surrounding land. It is also hoped to relocate some of London's tertiary
education establishments to the site. Meridian Delta is backed by the American billionaire Philip Anschutz, who has interests in oil, railways, and telecommunications, as well as a string of sports-related investments.
The dome was publicly renamed as The O2 on 31 May 2005, in a £6 million-per-year deal with telecommunications company O2 plc, now a subsidiary of Telefonica O2. This announcement, which presaged a major redevelopment of the site that retained little beyond the shell of the dome, gave publicity to the dome's transition into an entertainment district including an indoor arena, a music club, a cinema, an exhibition space and bars and restaurants. This redevelopment was undertaken by the dome's new owners, the Anschutz Entertainment Group, to a design by HOK SVE and Buro Happold. It cost £600 million, and the resulting venue opened to the public on 24 June 2007, with a concert by rock band Bon Jovi.
Effects on political careers
Issues related to the Dome damaged Peter Mandelson's and John Prescott's political careers. The scheme was seen as an early example of what some saw as Tony Blair's often excessive optimism, who stated at the Dome's opening: "In the Dome we have a creation that, I believe, will truly be a beacon to the world". The fact that Mandelson's grandfather was Herbert
Morrison who as a minister had been involved with the Festival of Britain often was drawn on for negative comparisons.

Let's Take A Look At Education

Model pupils?

Crimes That Led To The Guillotine (Eugen Weidmann)

Eugen Weidmann (February 5, 1908 – June 17, 1939) was the last person to be publicly executed in France. Executions by guillotine in France continued in private until September 10, 1977, when Hamida Djandoubi was the last person to be executed.
Weidmann was born in Frankfurt am Main to the family of an export businessman, and went to school there. He was sent to live with his grandparents at the outbreak of World War I; during this time he started stealing. Later in his 20s he served five years in Saarbrucken jail for robbery.
During his time in jail Weidmann met two men who would later become his partners in crime: Roger Million and Jean Blanc. After their release from jail, they decided to work together to kidnap rich tourists visiting France and steal their money. They rented a villa in Saint-Cloud, near Paris, for this purpose.
Their first kidnap attempt ended in failure because their victim struggled too hard, forcing them to let him go. In July 1937, they made a second attempt, Weidmann having made the acquaintance of Jean De Koven, a 22-year-old New York dancer visiting her aunt Ida Sackheim in Paris. Impressed by the tall, handsome German, De Koven wrote to a friend: "I have just met a charming German of keen intelligence who calls himself Siegfried. Perhaps I am going to another Wagnerian role - who knows? I am going to visit him tomorrow at his villa in a beautiful place near a famous mansion that Napoleon gave Josephine." During their meeting they smoked and "Siegfried" gave her a glass of milk. She took photos of him with her new camera (later found beside her body, the developed snapshots showing her killer). Weidmann then strangled and buried her in the villa's garden. The group then sent Million's mistress, Collette Tricot, to cash de Koven's $430 in traveller's cheque and 300 francs in cash. Sackheim received a letter demanding $500 for the return of her niece. De Koven's brother Henry later came to France offering a 10,000 franc reward from his father Abraham for information about the young woman. However, by that time she was dead. On September 1 of the same year, Weidmann hired a chauffeur named Joseph Couffy to drive him to the French Riviera where, in a forest outside Tours he shot him in the nape of the neck and stole his car and 2500 francs. The next murder came on September 3, after Weidmann and Million lured Janine Keller, a private nurse, into a cave in the Fountainbleau Forest with a job offer. There he killed her, again with a bullet to the nape of the neck, before robbing her of 1400 francs and her diamond ring. On October 16, Million and Weidmann arranged a meeting with a young theatrical producer named Roger LeBlond, promising to invest money in one of his shows. Instead, Weidmann shot him in the back of his head and took his wallet containing 5000 francs. On November 22, Weidmann murdered and robbed Fritz Frommer, a young German he had met in jail. Frommer, a Jew, had been held there for his anti-Nazi views. Once again the victim was shot in the nape of the neck. His body was buried in the basement of the Saint-Cloud house where De Koven was interred. Five days later Weidmann committed his final murder. Raymond Lesobre, a real estate agent, was shot in the killer's preferred fashion while showing him around a house in Saint-Cloud. Five-thousand francs were taken from him.
Officers from the Surete, led by a young inspector named Primborgne, eventually tracked Weidmann to the villa from a business card left at Lesobre's office. Arriving at his home, Weidmann found two officers waiting for him. Inviting them in, he then turned and fired three times at them with a pistol. Although they were unarmed, the wounded Surete men managed to wrestle Weidmann down, knocking unconscious with a hammer that happened to be nearby. Weidmann was a highly co-operative prisoner, confessing to all his murders, including that of de Koven, the only one for which he expressed regret. He is reported to have said tearfully: "She was gentle and unsuspecting ... When I reached for her throat, she went down like a doll."
The murder trial of Weidmann, Million, Blanc and Tricot in Versailles in March 1939 was the biggest since that of Henri Desire Landru, the modern-day "Bluebeard", 18 years earlier. One of his Weidmann's lawyers, Vincent de Moro-Giufferi, had indeed defended Landru. Also present was the French novelist Colette, who was engaged by Paris-Soir to write an essay on Weidmann.
Weidmann and Million received the death sentence while Blanc received a jail sentence of 20 months and Tricot was acquitted. Million's sentence was later commuted to life imprisonment.
On June 17, 1939, Weidmann was beheaded outside the prison Saint-Pierre in Versailles. The "hysterical behaviour" by spectators was so scandalous that French president Albert Lebrun immediately banned all future public executions. Unknown to authorities, film of the execution was shot from a private apartment adjacent to the prison. British actor Christopher
Lee, who was 17 at the time, witnessed this event.

You Don't Have To Run Around Like A Headless Chicken

Relax in the pool with some friendly chicks!

Computer Definitions

What your pit bull dun to cousin Jethro.

Needed when you run out of food stamps.

Time to call the undertaker.

When you go to Junior's party uninvited.

The art of counting on your fingers.

Female Disco dancer.