Part of Beijing Airport Roof Takes Flight

Architects behind Beijing Airport’s flagship Terminal 3 have defended its design following severe wind damage to the building’s roof, and claimed that sub-standard materials are to blame. China Real Time Report sees the incident as part of a broader trend:

… China’s fast development has led in cases to cut corners and lax safety standards, putting many of its signature developments under a new light.

Terminal 3 turns out to be no exception after the state-run China Daily reported that part of the terminal’s roof was ripped open by a strong wind on Tuesday. “Dear Tom Friedman, how’s ‘be more like China’ working out these days?” wrote one wag on Twitter, referring to New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman and his generally high regard for Chinese infrastructure projects.

Not so fast, says Shao Weiping, executive chief architect of Beijing Architectural Design and Research Institute, which worked with Foster & Partners on the project. Speaking to the China Daily, he said the damage could be the result of pieces improperly supplied or installed:

… “The metal roof technology used to build T3 was a mature one that has stood tests for more than 20 years,” he said, adding he personally believed that this could be more of a quality-related issue.

See also “Quality is Weightier than Mount Tai”; Reporters Allege Shady Building Practices via CDT. Another aspect of the same general problem is that skill development has frequently lagged behind the rush of construction. Poor maintenance has been blamed for problems with escalators on the Beijing subway, while inadequate training and other human error has been implicated in both the Shanghai Metro and Wenzhou high-speed rail crashes.


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