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Cityscape recommendations for Beijing
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09:40, July 11, 2008

 Related Channel News
· Beijing 2008 Olympic Games
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If you are coming to Beijing for the Olympics, Xinhua News Agency staff provides these tips for finding the capital's most impressive spots.

China Central Television headquarter building

Tired of regular-shaped skyscrapers? The breathtaking artistic architecture of the new China Central Television headquarter will leave you with no regrets. Currently under construction, the building stands in the center of the central business district in Beijing's Chaoyang District.

The impressive structure broke ground in 2004 and is scheduled to be complete before the Olympics. It stands 234 meters high with 51 floors.

Dutchman Rem Koolhaas and German Ole Scheeren provided the unusual design for the architecture. The main building is not a traditional tower, but instead a continuous loop of five horizontal and vertical sections covering 381,300 square meters of floor space, creating an irregular grid on the building's facade with an open center.

The L-shaped high-rise construction of the building is considered to be a structural challenge, especially because it is in a seismic zone. It has acquired nicknames such as "Twisted donut" and "The Pants" by locals.

In many ways, the building is truly "the most." Its shape makes it the most radically shaped building designed so far. For architects and builders, it has been the most technically challenging project they have ever worked on. In addition, many people believe it is the most expensive office building in the world for its 800 million-U.S. dollar budget.

China Millennium Monument-Great Altar

This wonderful structure was built to welcome in the new millennium. It is nestled in the south of Yuyuantan Park with the Military Museum in the east and the current China Central Television headquarter in the west.

Covering an area of 4.5 hectares, it incorporates both the spirit of traditional Chinese culture and the art of modern design. At its south entrance is the Plaza of Holy Fire.

The plaza has an area of 960 square meters, representing China's vast territory of 9.6 million square km. The fire originated at the site of Peking man at Zhoukoudian, Beijing, and is fed by natural gas. The eternal flame, rising some 45 cm, is a token of the unceasing creativity of the Chinese civilization.

Two streams of water flow down the steps along the eastern and western sides of the plaza, suggesting the Yellow and Yangtze rivers.

Walking along the plaza, you will see a 270-meter-long bronze tunnel that has inscriptions on its walls with a time-line that dates from when humans first appeared.

There are also other attractions that are appealing in a world-class large screen projection hall, an exhibition hall with statues of famous figures from past dynasties, an exhibition wall for 56 nationalities and a large open-air stage for live performances.

Terminal 3 -- Beijing Capital International Airport

The new Terminal Three (T3) at the Beijing Capital International Airport is stunning for visitors and locals alike not only for its sheer size but by its enormous "galactic" ceiling and convenient modern facilities.

The dragon-shaped building, the largest air terminal in the world, covers a floor area of 98.6 hectares -- equal to the size of around 170 soccer pitches. Its opening earlier this year upgraded the airport's capacity from 35 million to 76 million passengers, sufficient to handle the estimated 60 million passengers during the Games period.

The semi-transparent ceiling is the highlight of T3 as it guarantees enough light and is energy-saving as well. The skylights resemble the scales of a giant dragon.

"Once inside, the immaculate floor reflects the space-age ceiling, which gives the impression of a star-lit sky," a foreign journalist commented.

Designed by renowned British architect Norman Foster, the modern international terminal incorporates several Chinese characteristics to make sure passengers know they are in China as soon as getting off a flight.

Foster, who redesigned Berlin's Reichstag, used the Chinese auspicious color of red and gold as the color scheme. The four-dragon sculpture of the symbolic Chinese bracelet-like sphere used in ancient China to forecast earthquakes and models of the ancient Suzhou gardens can also be experienced inside the building.

T3 is packed with shops selling all kinds of things ranging from international brands to Beijing local products. Altogether, there are 64 restaurants providing various dining options. These include the cuisine of different countries and fast food such as McDonald's and Burger King.

Despite its enormous size, passengers could hardly get lost inside. Along with plentiful directory signs, the ceiling can also provide clues for all the steel tubes overhead are in a north-south direction. Different colors of the ceiling also inform passengers which area they are in.

National Center for the Performing Arts

The National Center for the Performing Arts is an opera house located in downtown Beijing. It exterior is a titanium glass ellipsoidal dome surrounded by a man-made lake. The 46-meter-high glass dome ranges from 144 meters in the north-south direction and 212 meters east-west. Some people say it looks like an egg floating in water; therefore it is nicknamed "The Egg." It has served as an iconic architecture of Beijing since its 2007 completion.

Created by French designer Paul Andreu, the center lies next to the Forbidden City and to the west of Tian'anmen Square. Its futuristic style is especially eye-catching among the traditional Chinese architecture.

Around the center is a 35,500-square-meter lake, trees and lawns designed to make it complement the red walls of the nearby ancient buildings and merge the futuristic architecture into the traditional Chinese environment.

The glass of the dome can change its hue according to the direction of the sunshine.

Inside the "egg," there are three main performance halls, namely the Opera House, Concert Hall and Theater Hall. These can seat 2,398, 2,019, and 1,035 people respectively.

The structure's glass ceiling baths the dazzling colored marble floor in sunlight. The interior walls are decorated with Brazilian rosewood. Visitors have to walk across a gorgeous 80-meter-long underwater corridor to enter the grand hall.

The center also hosts a variety of auxiliary facilities, including an exhibition gallery, souvenir shops and cafes. It's easy to access by public transport. Take subway line one to Tian'anmen West station and you will get there through Exit C.


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