Jul 1, 2012

Only the Sky is the Limit!

Three huge pillars suddenly erected in front of the historic Stora hotellet (The Grand Hotel) at the Umeå river waterfront! And the day after there were six of them! And day three eight! And in Seattle The Seattle Great Wheel opened this weekend! The 175 feet (53,54 meter) ferris wheel is among the tallest in US and is changing the waterfront skyline in a big way. And so are the intriguing concrete pillars in Umeå. But it has taken a while to get there.

Hal Griffith, who owns Pier 57 where the ferris wheel is located, has envisioned this new attraction for 30 years. Three decades was needed for the plan to come to fruition. 42 climate-controlled gondolas are raising Seattleites well above their familiar zone. And I am sure it is a perfect match in the Waterfront for All project. The time was finally right.

Staden mellan broarna (The City Between the Bridges) was first presented in the Umeå City Council in 1989. But by that time of course discussed and envisioned for a number of years. And those huge eight concrete pillars pointing to the sky today is the first proof that it is finally happening. Sure, there has been a big busy and loud hole at the sight this winter, but a hole is just a hole, right? Anything could happen. More appeals, ancient findings, financial problems, politics, activists moving in with their sleeping bags, water running up from the river, the soil and foundation not solid enough, yes, pretty much anything.

But the findings turned out being from the sixties. And yes, the walls of The Grand Hotel and an old bank building is cracking from months of piling, but it seems like nothing can stop this now, there is actually a building coming up in The City Between the Bridges! I have to say, it’s truly hard to grasp. It’s really happening!

The construction of the new building for cultural arts, Kulturväven, will be the biggest contribution to Umeå since the Umeå University in the early sixties and I am here to see it rise. The building will be a ferris wheel of music, theatre, dance, literature, film and crossovers we can’t even fantasize about. And it will forever change the skyline. The physical one, obviously. But also the mental one. As experiencing the view from the top gondola will alter our vision, makes us take a deep breath and let it all in. Make our mind expand. And our hopes to rise. Only the sky is the limit!

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