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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 winterspan on 7/14/2008 9:11:35 PM , Rating: 1
note: apology for the length of the post, but I had to vent!

*sigh*... another ignoramus. Have you actually been to China?

Now regarding America I'll give you the fact that certain environmental policies and decisions are very stupid, and that the EPA and other groups can loose sight of the larger goals, and get their priorities screwed up, but a lot of it is political. They really need to let intelligent people makes decisions based on SCIENCE!

They'll stop the building of a renewable energy hydro-dam to save the habit of some rare mollusk or some shit, yet they allow coal power plants to heavily pollute the air not even requiring proper filters and filtration systems they use in Europe nor they do even do ANYTHING about C02 release.

Or Another thing I saw was a small refinery town in Texas where the air is so POLLUTED with toxic chemicals from the refinery that little kids actually get chronic OPEN SORES AND LESIONS ! That's disgusting, AND COMPLETLEY UN-AMERICAN! A very poor part of town (mostly poor minorities) lies in the direct path of the wind and experiences the brunt of the pollution. Obviously they would move if they could, but they are very poor and their property is now worthless obviously. And I'm sure the EPA is focusing on preserving some rare moth or something instead of helping these people and cracking down hard on the refinery.

Now about China. Surely you are not praising China's "environmental policies" . Every sizable city is HORRIBLY POLLUTED! Not LA smog, we are talking not being able to see more than a hundred feet in front of you ALL THE TIME. Particulate levels, nitrogen-oxides, sulfur-oxides, etc are threw the damn roof -- people literally can't even breath and most people wear filter masks!

In many pockets of the country, the conditions are EVEN WORSE. In Linfen , the "coal capital" the sky is dark during the DAY , choked to all hell with unimaginable pollution. The rate of different lung and respiratory disease must be off the charts! It's WORSE than late 19th century Pittsburgh!

In Tianyng, lead levels are 10-100 times normal , with epidemic levels of lead poisoning which has nasty side effects, etc.

Basically, many parts of china are like living in hell, especially for ANYONE with asthma or other lung/bronchial conditions. I can't imagine how many people (and children even) have or will develop lung cancers, chronic pneumonia, emphysema, etc.

Granted, they have been able to live a lot of their people out of poverty, but they could have done it much more responsibly and not made such a disaster out of the environment and their people's health. I think they are becoming much better and investing in a lot of future green technology.

I am not an environmental activist, I am not a greenpeace member, and I disagree with many of them and their policies. But the bottom line for me is that we only have ONE Earth, and it's our responsibility to protect it. There is no reason why the whole world can't grow and develop without having to destroy it.

There is also no reason that we have to suffer economically while cleaning up our act and reverting global warming. Regulating C02 emissions is not going to end the world. In fact, the looming massive investment and production of renewable energy infrastructure, in addition to all the other areas of the economy about to undergo major "Greening" (Commercial and residential construction, automotive industry, commercial and private aviation, etc), should provide an enormous economical boost. We can create a lot of jobs here in America, and I think we can even reverse the trend and start manufacturing these technologies right here. Screw the "outsourcers" - They should be burned at the stake!

It's just going to take smart thinking, good leadership, sound policy, and giving scientists and engineers the resources they need to do the research and develop the technology. "Dubya" has been a *complete failure* on all of those counts. I pray that future leaders, whoever they may be, will embrace renewable energy and environmental conservation.

By grenableu on 7/14/2008 9:50:34 PM , Rating: 2
Yes the air pollution in China is many thousands of times worse than anywhere here in the US. No the people aren't dropping like flies.

While China can certainly stand to clean things up a bit, that alone proves that environmentalists here are overly silly. If they have their way, we won't be able to mine or manufacture anything at all, for fear of some 0.0000000001% chance of someone getting a cancer 50 years from now.

"If a man really wants to make a million dollars, the best way would be to start his own religion." -- Scientology founder L. Ron. Hubbard

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