Design + Architecture

The Visionaries

by Suzanne Wales


On the horizon: Terminal 3, Beijing Airport

When visitors fly into Beijing for the 29th Olympiad in 2008, they might not want to leave the airport. Few architects would take on such a Herculean project as this and then promise to deliver it within four years, but Foster has the confidence that comes with creating, among others, Hong Kong's Chek Lap Kok airport. The scale and drama of the airport more than matches the Chinese government's ambitions for the Olympics. To get an idea of its sheer size, consider these numbers: Two miles long, 292 check-in desks, 179 elevators, 98 moving sidewalks, and 55 million passengers per year by 2020. Like Chek Lap Kok, Foster has managed to merge technology with beautiful design. From below its soaring salamander-shaped roof has ample views to the outside, and interior details that evoke traditional Chinese symbols and colors (the skylights change from red to yellow as you progress through the building).

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