Beijing unveils the largest building in the world amid other building projects

Terminal 3 in Beijing’s airport is adorned with the colors of imperial China and a roof that evokes the scales of a dragon. The massive glass- and steel-sheathed structure cost $3.8 billion and handles more than 50 million passengers a year. Beijing hopes to remove the negative perceptions surrounding its country’s image as host of the Olympic Games by emphasizing its ability to upgrade and modernize, at least when it comes to buildings and infrastructure projects.

05/08/2008


In time for this summer’s Olympics, Beijing’s new Terminal 3—twice the size of the Pentagon—is the largest building in the world.

Adorned with the colors of imperial China and a roof that evokes the scales of a dragon, the massive glass- and steel-sheathed structure, designed by the renowned British architect Lord Norman Foster, cost $3.8 billion and handles more than 50 million passengers a year. The developers call it the “most advanced airport building in the world,” and say it was completed in less than 4 years, a timetable some believed impossible.

It opened in late February with little fanfare and is the image China would like to project as it hosts the Olympic games this summer—a confident rising power constructing dazzling monuments exemplifying its rapid progress and its audacious ambition.

Beijing hopes to remove the negative perceptions surrounding its country’s image as host of the Olympic games by emphasizing its ability to upgrade and modernize, at least when it comes to buildings and infrastructure projects. The main Olympic stadium, nicknamed the Bird’s Nest, is already widely admired for its striking appearance and its use of an unusual steel mesh exterior. The nearby National Aquatics Center, known as the Water Cube, is a translucent blue bubble that glows in the dark. And east of the main Olympic arenas, construction is winding down on the new headquarters of the country’s main state television network, China Central Television, or CCTV.

That $700 million building, designed by Rem Koolhaas, consists of two interlocking Z-shaped towers that rise 767 ft. and may be the world’s largest and most expensive media headquarters.

 

Indeed, behind the increasingly nationalistic counterprotests is a fear that China’s Olympic moment is being overshadowed by critics and that the country’s remarkable achievements are being ignored.

Many Chinese say that will change on Aug. 8, 2008—an auspicious date by traditional reckoning because eight is a lucky number—as the world focuses on the Olympics and China’s undeniable accomplishments.





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