Beijing 2008: Spotlight on Architecture

The National Grand Theatre

The National Grand Theatre, image taken from DuPont

The Olympic spotlight is often held by the world’s most renowned athletes, and spectators are left in awe of their athletic prowess, however, Beijing may give spectators another thing to view in amazement–the Olympic venues. Architects such as Herzog & de Muren (Switzerland), China Architecture Design Institute, PTW Architects (Australia), Ove Arup (Australia), Foster + Partners (England), just to name a few, have worked diligently to create the National Stadium, National Aquatics Center and re-vamping the Beijing Capital International Airport.

Just as athletes often have nicknames (Ocho Cinco, A-Rod and the Fridge) these venues have taken on new names, as well, such as Bird’s Nest, Water Cube, Eggshell and Z crisscross.

National Stadium, aka Bird’s Nest:

The Bird’s Nest was constructed by both Herzog & de Muren and the China Architecture Design Institute. According to the Beijing Olympics website, the Bird’s Nest is 258,000 square meters and will seat 91,000. The Bird’s Nest will host the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as, track and field competitions. Spectators can also take a break from the games by enjoying the lush greenery surrounding the Nest or by taking a quick shopping excursion in the lower level of the Nest. Click here for more photos.

After the Olympics it will be given a second life as it will be used to host competitive and non-competitive venues.

The National Stadium, Beijing 2008

The National Stadium at night. Image taken from

The National Aquatics Center, aka Water Cube:

Across the street from the Bird’s Nest you will find the Water Cube in the Olympic Park. The Water Cube was constructed by PTW Architects, CSCEC International Design and Arup. The Water Cube is described as having semi-transparent walls that have a bubbly affect. Beyond the interesting construction of the walls, the walls are also touted as being self-cleaning and are energy efficient. The exterior was constructed out of a Teflon-like substance known as ETFE. This exterior allows in more sunlight, which is expected to cut energy costs by 30% and can be recycled. According to early estimations this project cost $100 million U.S. dollars. The money was provided by donations from Hong Kong and Macao. For more information, and to learn how it was constructed, see the Discovery video below.

Beijing Capital International Airport:

While the Beijing Capital International Airport does not have a quirky nickname, its new terminal design by Foster + Partners (England) is on par with the rest of the Olympic venues. According to The Guardian, Beijing airport is preparing for the opening of its new Terminal 3, designed by Norman Foster, after four years of construction. It is the world’s largest airport building – covering more than a million square meters – designed to accommodate an estimated 50 million passengers a year by 2020. Foster + Partners also incorporated the national colors into their design and gave the terminal a dragon shape that can be seen as you are taking off or landing, and the dragon is featured in the interior, as well.


Image taken from Foster + Partners

What are your favorite Beijing venues? You can view the other venues here.


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