Wednesday, August 06, 2008

Beijing Architecture

One of my favorite radio shows, PRI's Studio 360's episode last week, "Cooder, China, Cheetah Legs," had a segment on Beijing's new architecture being built in advance of the 2008 Olympics. There was also a nice article about new architecture in Beijing in The New Yorker in June 2008. The structure most commented upon has been the amazing "bird's nest "Olympic Stadium but I was struck by the photographs I saw of the headquarters for China's state television network, CCTV, China Central Television.

This arch is five times the size of the Arc de Triomphe in Paris and will be the second largest office building on earth, after the Pentagon, when it is finished. The building design is a continuous loop, kind of like a Moebius Strip, with a skeleton of gray glass & steel reflecting the sky. The two pillars incline inward at a 6 degree angle giving the 51 floors a look of precariousness which has caused some concern considering the amount of seismic activity in China. The building will be completed in December 2008 and the finished design of the building (below) come from

I am amazed by some of the daring building projects going on around the world like the variety of buildings in Beijing and in the Gulf states like Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The willingness to commit millions of dollars to create something that's never been done before requires an optimistic and confident vision of the future that I don't often see reflected in mainstream media's depiction of the "mood" of the U.S.

When I see questions about what "use" is public art, I think it not only is an illustration of beauty which everyone should (or could) be able to appreciate but it also reflects the sentiments of a culture, how it wants the world to view it. An inspiring structure like the CCTV headquarters is not only a beautiful building but also demonstrates the confident, prosperous vision China has for its future.


Blue State Cowgirl said...

Interesting article and I must download that NPR story. We're leaving for Beijing on Monday and I'm wondering what I'll see. We were there two years ago and it was just a forest of construction cranes. And unbelievable pollution. I remember standing at one end of Tienaman Square and not being able to see the other. My translator/guide told me, "You're lucky you're here on a clear day. You'll get some good pictures."

Liz said...

How exciting, blue state cowgirl! I'm sorry I'm discovering your comment right when you are taking off for China. Enjoy your trip..I'd be interested in hearing your take on the how different Beijing is during the games.