The 2007 It List

by Ondine Cohane

Beijing, China

Why wait for the 2008 Olympics to make a pilgrimage to China's most exciting city? Much of the infrastructure is already in place, and it'll be a lot easier to appreciate the art and restaurant scenes without swarming crowds of track-suited athletes and fans. The Chinese government has made the capital an architectural laboratory of sorts. Paul Andreu's National Grand Theater, opening this summer, is already making waves with its bloblike design—some say it looks like an egg floating in water—and lack of doors (you enter through two tunnels underneath a moat). The striking, and strikingly enormous, China Central Television Building (pictured), designed by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren, won't be completed until 2008, but you can gawk at the construction site (plus the adjacent Television Cultural Center, which will include a luxury hotel). Beijing's contemporary art scene is also heating up, with international speculators pumping up prices—Red Gate Gallery is a good place to survey the breadth and quality of the city's current crop of artists. Luxury hotel chains are popping up to house all those deep-pocketed collectors: Ritz-Carlton opens its second Beijing property this year; Park Hyatt comes to town in late '07 with what will be its most sumptuous outpost yet; and a Four Seasons Beijing is on the horizon. But the most apt place to stay in this design-mad city may be Commune by the Great Wall Kempinski, an hour from downtown. Its original 11 freestanding houses were created by emerging Asian architects and received a "special prize" at the Venice Biennale in 2002.

Red Gate Gallery
Tel: 86 10 6525 1005

Ritz-Carlton Beijing, Central Place
Tel: 800 241 3333

Park Hyatt Beijing
Tel: 888 591 1234

Four Seasons Beijing
Tel: 800 819 5053

Commune at the Great Wall Kempinski
Tel: 86 10 8118 1888

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Information may have changed since date of publication. Please confirm details with individual establishments before planning your trip.

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