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The 'Water Cube': The National Aquatics Center

The facade of the Water Cube can also be highlit and animated

The 'Birds Nest': Beijing National Stadium

China Central TV Headquarters

The National Center for Performing Arts. Called a "floating pearl" by its admirers, its also been criticized as resembling a "fried egg".
Olympic Pride Transforms City, Projects advance architecture to new levels.

In less than a decade, Beijing has transformed itself from a city of gloomy, uninspired concrete cubes to a site containing some of the world's most inspired architecture. While China's new prosperity plays a part, the primary impetus is this year's Olympic Games which are due to start next month in the city. A look at some of the major projects follows.

The surreal "Water Cube", a.k.a. the National Aquatics Center, is covered with sheets of translucent plastic bubbles, which invoke images of a building constructed entirely from water. The bubbles also transmit light and absorb heat, cutting energy usage. The Center is the world's largest polymer-clad building, and will be one of the primary venues during the upcoming Olympics.

The "Bird Nest" is the friendly name for Beijing National Stadium, a 91,000-seat venue with an eye-popping space age design that contains 36 kilometers of unwrapped steel supports. Built for $430M, the stadium will also be one of the Olympics’ primary venues.  It is claimed that as many as 10 people died during the construction of the Stadium.

The hypermodern National Center for the Performing Arts, a gigantic $400 million titanium-and-glass flying saucer, floats like a pearl on its surrounding pool of water. To complete the image, an underwater tunnel provides entry. The Center's lush interior is said to house the most technologically advanced acoustics and mechanical wizardry of any concert hall in the world. The water enclosing the building also acts as thermal mass, to mediate the temperature inside.

There's the China Central TV (CCTV) Headquarters, a massive Escher-like structure that strains the boundaries of what it means to be called a skyscraper. The building's shape is so complex, that computational tools to validate its design didn't exist a decade ago. CCTV Tower's 4.1 million square feet of floor space makes it the second largest office building in the world, after the Pentagon.  The design, which includes a massive unsupported segment, will never be repeated, according to some architectural experts.

Greenpix, a multistory video display wall, is being called a "zero energy video art installation". Built on the wall of a large seafood restaurant, the solar-powered installation will display specially-commissioned videos by renowned artists.

Finally, Beijing has also completed an addition onto its airport: Terminal Three. The two-mile long structure is not only the world's largest airport terminal; it's one of the world's largest enclosed spaces. Built at a cost of $3.5 billion, it has over 100 gates, and covers some 9 million square feet spread over five above-ground and two underground floors. The roof of the terminal is punctuated by raised triangular skylights, meant to evoke the scales of a Chinese dragon.

Beijing is also constructing the world's largest Ferris wheel, in Chaoyang Park.

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RE: world's most inspired architecture
By 325hhee on 7/14/2008 9:09:12 AM , Rating: 5
Most people also forget the fact, only 30 yrs ago, China was a nothing country. Still very impoverished, except for their military, and was still trying to rebuild itself after the japs raped the F out of China.

It wasn't until 1970's China started to turn around slowly, they were still a poor country, which is the why people started out sourcing early on. Flash forward, in early 2000 China's average yearly wage was only about $4000 USD a year. Come on people on welfare made more than that here in the good ol USA, and they don't even have to work, just plop out babies and cry for more money. I'm glad the welfare system is changing, still sucks, and McDonalds is always hiring.

So yes, China used lead paint, but that's done away with, yes there may be some human rights violation, but according to who's standards?

The activists in the US pisses me off, and while talking about human rights, why should murderers, rapists, thugs, etc have better, health, medical, and education benefits than me? I'm a hard working middle class citizen and my company keeps cutting my benefits to save money. I have virtually no dental, just 2 stupid cleanings a year, the rest is out of pocket with a discount, which still means nothing when you have to do a root canal. Medical is also laughable, no vision, etc. Yet the scum bags in prison gets full coverage under my tax dollars.

Ok, now how's that for human rights violation. Why do I have to suffer and watch every penny when douche bag criminals get better benefits than me for murdering someone, and free college. I'm short of enough credits to get an associates degree, but life has it that I can't go back to school, because I can't afford it. I had to put off a root canal once, because I can't afford it.

Instead of looking at other countries, how about a re-evaluation of our own human rights. Where's the justice for people that live an honest living and just can't get by, because prices keeps going up, benefits keeps getting cut, and not everyone is born privileged enough to go to college. Loans sucks, and not everybody can get grants, pell, tap, or whatever kinds of aids is out there, because we fall right in the middle, make too much to get assistance, and not enough to pay for school.

RE: world's most inspired architecture
By FITCamaro on 7/14/2008 9:53:02 AM , Rating: 5
Your tax dollars at work. You can thank nuts like Nancy Pelosi and other liberals for that crap.

Prisoners should get bread, water, a hard bunk, and a roof. No TV, no exercise equipment, no games, no free education (they should've gone when they were a kid), etc. Prison is not supposed to be enjoyable. Prison is not supposed to be an opportunity. It's supposed to be a hell hole that no one wants to go to.

RE: world's most inspired architecture
By phatboye on 7/14/2008 10:39:18 AM , Rating: 5
I'll agree with you on the bread and water for food hell I think they should put all prisoners to work breaking rocks or making license plates or something for the government to offset the amount of my tax dollars that is gone into the prison system.

But I disagree with you on not educating prisoners. I whole heartedly support educating them if they desire to be educated. Part of the reason why some of the people are in jail (not all of them) for crimes like robbery or selling drugs is because they felt as if doing so was the only way for them to survive. By educating these guys you are giving them a chance that when they are released from jail and re-introduced to society they will have a legal way of surviving financially and thus maybe deter some former inmates from returning back into the prison system.

Yes it does suck that someone who breaks the law has an easier time getting an education than a normal law abiding citizen. Maybe we should send an angry letter to our government officials and tell them to bring out troops home and stop spending our hard earned tax dollar on Iraq and invest more in our country's educational system.

By ebakke on 7/14/2008 10:49:48 PM , Rating: 2
There's far more wrong with our education system than a lack of funding. And much could be improved with the current funding levels. One core problem lies in the attitudes of students/parents, and a complete lack of authority given to teachers.

As far as higher education goes... holy crap, enough money is being spent! Higher education doesn't have poor sales or project delays that require corporations to trim the fat, and cut excess jobs every few years. They hire more people to do the same amount of work. We need our public colleges/universities to get back to educating.

RE: world's most inspired architecture
By MozeeToby on 7/14/2008 11:12:19 AM , Rating: 3
That all depends on what you believe the purpose of prison is. There are basically two schools of thought: Prison as a punishment/deterent or prison as rehabilitation.

Personally, I don't think there's a problem with either system, the problem is not committing to one or the other. Many countries has prison systems designed from the ground up to rehabilitate prisoners and make them into full members of society; and many of those programs are successful. Other nation's prison systems are built from the ground up to punish and deter crime and they are also successful.

Only in the US, UK, and a few other countries do we try to combine the two aspects of prison; leading to a prison that is too comfortable to punish effectively and not proactive enough to actually reintegrate criminals.

RE: world's most inspired architecture
By phatboye on 7/14/2008 11:24:17 AM , Rating: 2
I can definitely agree with you that prisons are too comfortable (not that I'd ever want to live like that). No way in hell should they be allowed to sit on their asses and watch TV 23 hours out of the day, they need to be working. Either a hard labor type of job or being educated &rehabilitated at a very minimum 12 hours a day.

RE: world's most inspired architecture
By FITCamaro on 7/14/08, Rating: -1
RE: world's most inspired architecture
By phatboye on 7/14/2008 1:27:49 PM , Rating: 3
Fine then what do you suppose that those prisoners do once they are released. The point of prison is not only to punish those who commit crimes but to make them better than they were before they went in. If you let them rot away in a jail cell and don't educate them while they are in jail they will just go back to the same violent behavior that they had before going in. At least if they receive an education while in jail they will have a better chance at getting a job and becoming law abating citizen.

By phatboye on 7/14/2008 1:31:07 PM , Rating: 2
*law abiding citizen*

Damnit no edit function.

By psychobriggsy on 7/15/2008 8:07:52 AM , Rating: 1
Prison is meant to rehabilitate as well as punish, so you should leave the educational material there.

And you'd give them bread? Bread's expensive! No, no, don't give them bread. Beans and lentils instead, and other cheap grains/beans/etc (and what they grow in the prison garden). No meat. Water only. Any TVs should be used to show educational material only. Gyms? If they want exercise then there are rocks to be broken.

Prison is already a deterrent to the vast majority of people. Just losing your freedom is enough for most. That leaves the people who are mentally impoverished committing the majority of crime that affects people (violence, theft, etc). It costs a lot of money to keep a prisoner in jail (less than it costs to put them on death row however), so any efforts made to get a prisoner to not commit a crime again in the future are worthwhile to save money.

RE: world's most inspired architecture
By Aloonatic on 7/14/2008 11:48:24 AM , Rating: 2
Try working for a living in Chairman Brown's glorious socialist Republic of "Great" Britain.

I wont claim that you are better of living on benefits or anything so crazy, but it's pretty damned close sometimes.

Politicians keep on scratching their heads, wondering why we have the highest teenage birthrate in Europe and pretty well anywhere else.

I'll tell them why.

A single mother I know (through a relative who is a child minder) worked out how much money they get in benefits from the government.

She works 16hr a week as a bar maid when the mood takes her, she doesn't earn much (minimum wage ~ £5.50) so she falls under the tax band, pays nothing on her income.

Then with money for child care (that's paid for by the state whilst she's working) housing benefits (all paid for by the state ~ $550 a month for a nice new 2 bedroom house) money just to pay for stuff for the kid and general expenses, as well a fuel.

They also actually get the free stuff on the NHS that you all probably thing that Brits get, but we don't.

We have subsidised prescriptions (~£6, no matter what it is, asthma inhalers, to cancer drugs I think) and free GP and emergency care, but have to pay for dental and optical treatment, which people on benefits do not have to and is where most people's expenditure comes from.

All in all, the money she received + what she earned (and didn't pay any tax on) came to nearly £19,000 a year.

Which means you would have to have a salary of about £25,000 a year to get that money in your back pocket!

She never bothered with school and her kid wont either, it's nearly 6 (is at school now) and is an unruly nightmare, doomed to follow her mother's fine example and be a burden to the state for her entire life.

The thing is, the mother really doesn't give a damn about herself or her child and genuinely believes that she deserves the money and is entitled to it.

If I was to loose my job (which isn't that unlikely with the way the economy is going) I would be able to claim very little (probably ~ $40 a week) after paying in for years.

The politicians still haven't worked out where they are going wrong though.

The main problem is the way that a lot of people think they are entitled to a certain standard of living in this country but for some reason do not think that they should have to pay or work for it.

They think it will be OK because it has always been OK and someone else will take care of everything, even down to raising their children for them (an alarming amount of children are starting school at 5 who do not know how to sit still at a table and are not even potty trained!) and if anything goes wrong they shrug their shoulders saying that it's not their fault.

I doubt if there are many people thinking like that in China, or care so little about their children, and they will continue to grow whilst we (in the UK at least) continue to stagnate, with a growing and unsustainable gap between rich and poor which will certainly lead to problems in the not too distant future.

Personally, I'm waiting for my girlfriend to finish university and then we're out of here.

By acejj26 on 7/14/2008 12:22:41 PM , Rating: 1
And to think, there are a lot of people in the U.S. who want to vote for the socialist Barack Obama.

RE: world's most inspired architecture
By FITCamaro on 7/14/2008 12:43:10 PM , Rating: 3
We have subsidised prescriptions (~£6, no matter what it is, asthma inhalers, to cancer drugs I think) and free GP and emergency care, but have to pay for dental and optical treatment, which people on benefits do not have to and is where most people's expenditure comes from.

Hence why we in the states have to pay so much for our drugs. Drug companies make almost nothing off drugs sold in Canada, Britain, and the EU because those countries set the prices. They don't give a crap about the billions American drug companies spend developing new drugs. They set the price based off what they think is reasonable. And on top of that some countries either completely ignore our patent laws and produce generic versions of their own, or wait the 20 years for US patents to legally expire and then make them on their own.

And yes the US is on a slow downward spiral to this method of thinking as well. If Obama gets elected, we'll likely be there.

RE: world's most inspired architecture
By maven81 on 7/14/2008 1:35:36 PM , Rating: 1
And yes the US is on a slow downward spiral to this method of thinking as well. If Obama gets elected, we'll likely be there.

Right, because electing someone who will at least hire some decent economic advisers is so much worse then someone who not long ago claimed he knew nothing about economics. Not to mention that from 2001 through late 2006 republicans could pretty much dictate policy and pass legislation without any resistance... And demonstrated their ability to boost our economy, lower prices, and give us better health care... Oh wait...... Yes, lets vote for the people who brought you the recession... brilliant!

RE: world's most inspired architecture
By Seemonkeyscanfly on 7/15/2008 12:26:31 PM , Rating: 2
We are not in a recession. Learn some economics before you talk about it. You need:
In macroeconomics, a recession is generally associated with a decline in a country's real gross domestic product (GDP), or negative real economic growth. According to widespread definition, a recession occurs when real growth is negative for two or more successive quarters of a year.
This has not happened since the days of Bill Clinton. You have been listening to far left media and they have you mixed up. Under Clinton business were beat up and destroyed due to the recession we were in...That is why so many businesses closed under his term and the very start of Bush's first term. Now you and me (the average Joe's) are feeling the effect because the businesses have still not recovered from the beatings of the 90's and with no more reserve funds left in the businesses bank accounts, they have to let people go. Economic factors change very slowly (for the most part)...and right now we are stuck at 1% growth - which sucks but it is better then the economic growth of many of Billy's years. Think of it this way...Under Bill we just received 10 credit card with $20,000 line of credit on each card...and we had fun partying up and spending it all – not work or saving. Now under Bush the bill for $200,000 has arrived and no money was put away because Bill spent it and did not save it and partied instead of working. So, you want to blame Bush for this mess (the credit card is the health of the economy). Did Bush pull us out...No, but he did not put us into our current condition. With a war on we should be able to recover quickly. However, because of too many things being produced and imported over seas we do not fell the effect... Example bullets, they are not made in the USA. Imagine our soldiers are using equipment built in China. Guns, Tanks, bullets, almost everything is made somewhere other then the USA. Nothing against China or whomever but we should be building are own military equipment (both Rep. and Dems. are to blame for this stupid move). That money is just being sent to another country to stimulate their economy and not the US economy.
The often sarcastic McCain understand this, since he worked under Regan in helping develop what become known as “Regonomics”. Obama just likes to raise taxes. Taking money away from the people will not increase business sales – which is really they only way out of this current economy.

By maven81 on 7/16/2008 10:37:06 AM , Rating: 2
What the hell are you talking about? I love the charge about "far left media" followed by classic republican talking points. Hint, if you're going to accuse someone of using propaganda, you better not be relying on it yourself.
In fact you should be thankful to this so called "liberal" media as they are the only people keeping McCain afloat. Here we have a senile old man who talked about "president Putin of Germany" and talked about "Czechoslovakia" not once but twice. Yet the media decided not to bring up those issues. Just imagine if Obama made such mistakes on a regular basis.

I'm well aware of what the agreed definition of a recession is, but to claim that we aren't really there because the growth has been 1% instead of -1% is splitting hairs. And the attempt to blame it all on Clinton is just precious. I can't stand Clinton, but the current financial situation is most definitely a result of republican policies. Deregulation of financial institutions, massive escalation in government spending, the braindead trickle down economics that Bush still believes in, his inability to create new jobs, one could go on and on.

With a war on we should be able to recover quickly.

Say what?!

Example bullets, they are not made in the USA. Imagine our soldiers are using equipment built in China. Guns, Tanks, bullets, almost everything is made somewhere other then the USA.

You're clearly out of your mind if you think the defense department would import tanks and guns from China. You may as well claim that the airforce is buying planes from Russia, or that the navy is buying ships from France.
You don't seem to get that even with all the weapons made here this is still trickle down economics. Just because Lockheed is getting rich doesn't mean you and I will get anything out of that.

You're also a fool for just parroting the "Obama will raise taxes" crap. Sure, but it's on whom that matters. Unless you make over 100k you've got nothing to worry about, and if you make less you'll actually get some money back. Contrast that with McCain who is proposing the exact opposite.

By Aloonatic on 7/14/2008 1:55:45 PM , Rating: 2
There are a lot of big drug companies in the EU, I think that includes a fair few of the larger ones too.

The £6 is what I have to pay over the counter at the pharmacists (the benefit claimants, pescky kids and coffin dodgers don't have to of course) but the rest of the price is covered by taxes.

Whilst deals are probably done though a centralised purchasing base, I don't think that the NHS or other similar systems get that much of a great deal.

Drug companies know that they have the whip hand and there's a burgeoning private healthcare system in the UK, which is the only place that many of the latest drugs can be found (there is two tear system in the UK) so they know that they can still charge "top dollar", whether it's a US based company or otherwise.

The NHS is one of the few things that is pretty good about living in the UK, but don't be fooled into thinking that it comes for free. No matter what Michael Moor mite tell you.

RE: world's most inspired architecture
By psychobriggsy on 7/15/2008 8:21:38 AM , Rating: 2
Pharma is huge in Europe, some of the biggest companies in the world are in the EU, especially Denmark which is one of the most socialist countries you could imagine.

And what the end-user pays on the NHS in the UK for a prescription is not what the NHS pay for the drug, which is market rate. Basically the prescription charge covers administration costs, not the drug itself which is free regardless of cost.

By masher2 on 7/15/2008 9:36:54 AM , Rating: 2
> "Pharma is huge in Europe, some of the biggest companies in the world are in the EU, especially Denmark which is one of the most socialist countries you could imagine."

To correct a few things. The largest drug company based in Denmark is Novo Nordisk, about #25 in the world. That's it for major drug companies.

The EU does have several major players, such as Bayer and GlaxoSmithKline...but they don't make a majority of their R&D costs, much less their profits, from EU sales. If it wasn't for their US sales, many of these firms would be in dire straits.

The US is the great cash cow for pharmaceutical firms. That's a simple reality of the marketplace.

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