China Pulls Up the Drawbridge

New York Times had an article on the "Wild Wild East," the world of avant-garde Beijing architecture.

"Many of the projects were commissioned for the 2008 Olympic Games, for which Beijing originally planned to spend a staggering $37 billion — more than three times what Athens paid — as it remade the city and its infrastructure. The proposed new venues include a 100,000-seat Olympic stadium by the Swiss architects Herzog & de Meuron wrapped in a "bird's nest" of tangled columns, and a swimming center by the Australian firm PTW with a facade of translucent, lightweight panels to be inflated to resemble huge bubbles.

The rest of Beijing was hardly left out. The French architect Paul Andreu designed a $300 million, dome-shaped national theater for the heart of the city. Norman Foster and his London-based firm Foster & Partners offered a new $2 billion airport based on a dragon motif. And after an extensive international competition two years ago, the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas was chosen to build what his firm has called its "most ambitious project ever": a dramatic new headquarters for CCTV, China's state-run broadcast company. The looping, O-shaped skyscraper, with a budget of at least $600 million, was a collaboration between Mr. Koolhaas and a partner, Ole Scheeren, for a site in the heart of the booming central business district here."

The same author also had another short article on Beijing's Truly Bad Buildings.

For photos, here are the good, the bad and the ugly.

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