Designed by Beijing-based Studio Pei Zhu, Digital Beijing served as the Games’ Control and Data Center. It resembles a barcode from one side and an integrated circuit board from the other. It now accommodates a virtual museum and an exhibition center.
Inspired by bubbles and molecules, the dramatic-looking Water Cube is a complex of five pools. After the Olympic Games, it was transformed into a giant water park with slides and a wave pool.
Built to host gymnastics and handball during the 2008 Games, this stadium boasts a curving roof with slatted beams, inspired by Chinese folding fans. Post-Olympics, it stages entertainment events.
Designed in collaboration with the Chinese artist Ai Weiwei, the National Olympic Stadium is an architectural icon. Its outer ribbons of structural steel resemble the woven twigs of a bird’s nest as they loop and swirl over the 91,000-seat arena, hence the building’s nickname.
The vast Olympic Green surrounds the Olympic Village and extends beyond the fifth ring road. At its heart is a dragon-shaped lake, as well as waterfalls, meadows, and streams. Entry is free.
This building hosted the fencing events during the Games, as well as providing a home for the International Broadcasting Center. Its distinctive shape mirrors the traditional Chinese “flying roof” and acts as a giant rainwater collector. The building is now a multipurpose conference center.
One of the world’s largest and most advanced airport buildings, Lord Norman Foster’s Terminal 3 welcomed international athletes to the 2008 Olympics. The design resembles a soaring dragon in red and yellow, thus evoking traditional Chinese colors and symbols.
French architect Paul Andreu’s silvery “Egg” (see National Center for the Performing Arts) provides a striking contrast to the monolithic Socialist architecture of neighboring Tian’an Men Square. The building is surrounded by a reflective moat and accessed by an underwater tunnel. A part of the facade is transparent, so at night passers-by can see inside.
Rebranded since the Olympics, the host venue for the basketball games features a unique exterior design that gives the impression of movement, with boards alternately rising and falling. More than mere show, the aluminum alloy boards reflect heat and reportedly result in 60–70 per cent energy savings. The facility has a capacity to seat 18,000 people and is one of Beijing’s largest.
The most striking addition to the Beijing skyline is the headquarters of China Central Television. Designed by Dutch architects Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren, it is a gravity-defying loop that pushes the limits of architecture. Its unusual design has prompted some locals to nickname the building “Glass Pants” (trousers).
Over 300 rooms built in 10 months.
In 1959, for the tenth anniversary of the People’s Republic of China, this was one of ten buildings commissioned.
This museum is every bit as brutal and ugly as the Great Hall, which it faces across the square.
Prime illustration of 1959’s “size is everything” approach to architecture.
The one “tenth-anniversary” building of elegance. Its plan forms the Chinese character for “mountain.”
No Chinese motifs here – but it’s suitably monolithic and drab.
Owes a striking debt to Moscow.
Neo-Classical Socialist Chinese – but fairly nice once you’re inside.
The largest art gallery in China.
A 1995 take on 1959-style architecture.