First came the 7 ancient wonders, but once their glory faded, the world selected a new group of wonders that stand with unmatched engineering prowess. This is the Christ the Redeemer.
The Christ the Redeemer statue was just recently highlighted in the broadcasting of the 2016 Rio Olympics, but its construction and engineering are a story all their own. Of all of the “New” wonders, this statue is the newest. A religious monument was first proposed in 1850, but the statue that stands today wasn’t built until the 1920s.
Being the largest art deco statue in the world, it reaches to the sky at 98 feet tall. The arms of the statue give it its notable appearance, stretching an almost equal 92 feet out. A 26-foot tall base holds the statue up on the top of Corcovado Mountain in Rio. While it is a massive statue indeed, it is only the 3rd largest statue of Jesus, so why is it a wonder of the world then? The statue is made from reinforced concrete and carved soapstone, coming to a total weight of 700 tons. At a cost of 3.3 million in 2016 dollars, it wasn’t relatively pricey to construct. In terms of construction, it didn’t have any hiccups, nor was it groundbreaking for the time. So, are you still wondering why it is a world wonder? Well, so are many others.
The most notable aspect of the sculpture is its perch atop the mountain in Rio and its definitive markings in the Rio skyline. It is certainly an engineering marvel and an architectural masterpiece, but many have struggled with its placement with wonders like Colosseum and the Great Wall of China. Keeping these reservations in mind, it is nonetheless considered one of the new 7 world wonders.
Construction of the statue was completed at the base of the mountain and the individual soapstone parts of the structure were then transported and set into place atop the peak. When designing the structure, engineers opted for a reinforced concrete frame for the potential lifespan in comparison to a steel frame. Soapstone was chosen as the exterior of the structure both because it could be locally sourced and is known to be very durable against the elements. This proved to be a good choice after a lightning strike in 2008 that resulted in minor, but repairable, damage.
As a cultural and religious icon, the Christ the Redeemer statue stands unlike any other. This may be perhaps why it made the list of top 7 new wonders of the world, but there has still been debate. Another aspect that likely contributed to its notoriety is the landscape on which it sits. There is arguably few photos more beautiful than that of christ the redeemer over the Rio waterfront. Over the course of the last 2 decades, local authorities have done both significant restoring work to the statue itself and reinforced the infrastructure surrounding the monument. There are now many modes to visit the statue, even including elevators at the platform atop the mountain.
More recently in 2015, two urban explorers climbed to the top of the statue and took selfies. As engineers, if the structure or machine you designed is selfie worthy, you know you did a good job.
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