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London's Big Ben will go silent until 2021 for $37M renovation

And only one side of the famous clock will be visible during the work

Big Ben will undergo a four-year renovation to the tune of $37 million. That’ll be the only tune; its bells will be silenced until the revamp is complete in 2021.
Photo by Paul Gravestock via Flickr

Big Ben, one of the world’s most recognizable architectural landmarks, is getting a facelift. And while the London fixture undergoes its sorely needed, $37 million treatment at the architecture spa—scheduled to last until 2021—its signature bells will fall silent.

What’s planned for Big Ben’s renovation? In a recently published story, The New York Times puts it like this:

It is the tower, officially known as the Elizabeth Tower and commonly referred to as Big Ben, and the clock mechanism and faces that are showing signs of aging, like the rest of the crumbling Palace of Westminster. Paint is flaking, the masonry is cracking, the roof is leaking and the metalwork is rusting. All need to be addressed to keep the tower from crumbling.

The plan to silence the bell while the revamp is completed is, as you can imagine, not a popular one, despite how necessary the work sounds. According to the Times, those lodging their complaints include British prime minister Theresa May (it “cannot be right” for the bell to fall silent for four years; and a local who said that “it’s a shame it is going to be silenced for four years,” because it’s “dear to a lot of [Londoners’] hearts.”

And that the silencing of Big Ben’s bell comes during the U.K.’s exit negotiations with the European Union was a metaphor not missed in the Times report.

Beyond Brexit, on the architectural front, London has been in the news lately: Its Rafael Viñoly-designed Walkie Talkie tower (notorious for melting cars with the glare from its glass-clad facades) recently sold for about $1.7 billion; the capital may be getting its own High Line-style park; and tiny, prefab, affordable apartments are coming to the famously expensive city. They’re projected to arrive in 2021.

Via: The New York Times