Design + Architecture

The Visionaries

by Suzanne Wales


On the horizon: Olympic Stadium, Beijing

An Olympic Stadium is the dream commission of any architect. What other project is assured such mass exposure? For the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, Herzog & de Meuron have created an astonishing milestone in stadium design. Nicknamed the "bird's nest," this immense steel mesh will enclose 91,000 spectators (and the athletes of course), who will be protected from rain and UV rays by a translucent membrane that fills the spaces in the mesh on the roof. Natural ventilation will be enhanced by the fact that all facilities such as shops and restaurants will be freestanding, rather than attached to the main shell. The stadium is just one of several remarkable buildings going up in time for the Games. In addition to the airport, there's also the Olympic Aquatics Centre (dubbed the "water cube"), the Rem Koolhaas Central Chinese Television project, and the National Grand Theater by Paul Andreu.

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