Also check out the CCTV fire: Beijing's New Year Celebrations Torch Mandarin Oriental Tower in office complex.
Real Concept's China Series
Whether the new China Central Television (CCTV) headquarters in Beijing is the most beautiful building (actually it is two towers connected), or the ugliest, depends on whose picture you view and on what day. Make no mistake however, it is a fascinating structure and it definitely makes a bold impression.
Here are two different renderings of what the CCTV headquarters will look like upon completion. The Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA) is the architectural firm that designed the entire CCTV development of which the headquarters, pictured here, is only a part. The OMA website details the entire development in its three phases.
This photo shows the two towers rising at angles in August of 2007. (From the Wikipedia listing)
As we were driving into downtown Beijing from the airport I was at a loss at whether to gape at the new bright yellow Maserati weaving in and out of traffic at a dangerous speed amongst the new Chinese drivers and wizened bicylists, or stare at this very weird looking building. My husband choose the Maserati with the very hot looking Asian woman driver: I choose the real estate. I thought it was the ugliest building I had ever seen.
On our arrival day we had a few hours of fairly blue skies but at street level there was still a cloud of pollution. I took the next two photos from the taxi as we're rounding the corner for our hotel, seemingly following the Maserati as closely as possible. She left us in a cloud of pollution. We were to discover that was not a common site on the streets of Beijing - the Maserati that is.
These photos were taken April 4, 2008:
You must admit that from this angle, at this stage it looks a little like the akward child growing into its rapidly developing body structure. Gives a new meaning to the term "corner office".
We arrive at our hotel and I open the curtains and the CCTV headquarters was our view. There is no such thing as a good view in Beijing. Here it is the photo taken from our room the next morning. Any hope of even a postage stamp corner of blue sky was dashed. Lovely isn't it, shrouded in smog. Perhaps one day this will be a coveted view.
- The China Central Television network expects to be broadcasting from its new headquarters for the Olympics. OMA was awarded the project in 2002 and the groundbreaking was in September, 2004.
- 755 feet tall, with 51 floors - it's goal was not to be the tallest skyscraper.
- This structure is one of the first of 300 new buildings planned for the Beijing's new Central Business District.
- The structure of the building involves two 60° leaning towers that are bent at 90° at the top and bottom.
- The construction of the building is considered to be a structural challenge, especially because it is in a seismic zone. (Oh great!) The cantilevered portion houses CCTV's management offices.
- The engineering required that the building be built in two sections and then joined at the apex to complete the "loop". In order not to lock in structural differentials this connection was completed at the last minute at the coldest time of night when the steel in the two towers had cooled to the same temperature.
- Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren, OMA, are the designers of the building. (Do I detect a certain sarcasm in a design that places management precariously perched over thin air with no safety net below. Seems like an "out on a limb" message.)
The OMA website goes into much detail on the project including virtual profiles of the buildings. The following is an interesting excerpt on the OMA design philosophy for the CCTV project.
"The tragedy of the skyscraper is that it marks a place as significant, which it then occupies and exhausts with banality... This banality is twofold: in spite of their potential to be incubators of new cultures, programs, and ways of life, most towers accommodate merely routine activity, arranged according to predictable patterns. Formally, their expressions of verticality have proven to stunt the imagination: as verticality soars, creativity crashes.
"Instead of competing in the hopeless race for ultimate height - dominance of the skyline can only be achieved for a short period of time, and soon another, even taller buildings will emerge - the project proposes an iconographic constellation of two high-rise structures that actively engage the city space."
The morale of the story...
What started out as a knee-jerk reaction (mine, I'm sorry to say), from the back of a taxi, to a building under construction in a city in which I had just arrived and knew virtually nothing, developed into a fascination and real appreciation of what this very large and complicated project entailed, both in engineering and sheer genius of bold design. I'd love to go back to Beijing one day and see the entire compound finished and shining in the blue skies (one of these days) of China.
Humble kudos ...
Related Real Concept blogs on China:
Planes, Trains & Automobiles: Infrastructure as Asset Class