Beijing National Stadium One of the Most Beautiful Olympic Stadiums

Beijing National Stadium One of the Most Beautiful Olympic Stadiums
Courtesy of Wojtek Gurak at flickr.com

There are some amazing architectural structures out there that are simply breathtaking, but were built for such specific purposes that have been since outlived. This makes for unfortunate abandoned locations that are spread out around the world and don’t get the attention they deserve. On a previous post, three of the most awesome soccer stadiums were detailed, which you can read more about on the Kenny Slaught WordPress Blog, and now the spotlight is on the Beijing National Stadium. This astounding structure was built for the 2008 Summer Olympic Games, and stood as a symbol of the event seating over 91,000 people in it’s immense steel structure. It was built by Herzog & de Meuron, which is a Swiss architecture firm based out of Switzerland since 1978.  They now have three main offices in New York and Germany, besides Switzerland and have since then become a prestigious firm that has earned awards since 1999 and received their last award, the Lubetkin Prize in 2009 for the Beijing National Stadium.

This structure, is also known as the Bird’s Nest and is in the middle of the Olympic Green Village, in the Chaoyang District. In this stadium events of track and field, football, gavelock, discus and weight throw competitions were held. After the Olympics came and went it is used as a center for a variety of national and international sports and recreation events. This same location will be used for the opening and closing ceremony of the Winter Olympic Games in 2022. Besides this programmed event, it has not had much use reason why they are already planning to build a shopping center and a hotel to bring some life back to the building that doesn’t have much use after the Olympics.

Before the Olympics

The bidding process for the Beijing National Stadium began in 2001 even before it had been awarded the games. They were looking for the perfect spot to build this arena and had over thirteen to choose from. Finally, the model presented to the China Architecture Design and Research Group (CADG) that resembled a bird’s nest was the one that came out on top and became the official design in April 2003. The structure of the stadium consists of two completely independent structures, each about 50 feet apart. The center is a bowl where the seats are arranged, and the outer steel is the frame surrounding it. Initially, it was going to have a retractable roof, but this was dismissed after the collapse of a rook at the Charles de Gaulle Airport. This was not the only thing that was removed; there were about 9,000 seats taken away from the original design, not to mention that the budget was reduced from its original $500 million down to $290 million. The roof was also modified a bit to protect fans since the original retractable roof was not constructed. Once the construction was built it has been coined the “The Bird’s Nest”.

Beijing National Stadium One of the Most Beautiful Olympic Stadiums
Courtesy of See-ming Lee at flickr.com

The inauguration and other events

The Opening and Closing Ceremony for the 2008 Summer Olympics, along with a series of athletic events were held from 8 to 24 August 2008. One of these events was the football final of the 2008 Summer Olympics. It was also used for the Opening and Closing ceremonies of the 2008 Summer Paralympics from 6 to 17 September 2008. Although the stadium was built with the initial intention of holding track and field events, it has since held other sporting events. The idea behind this building was for it to become a landmark in Beijing. It’s held other events like the 2009 Race of Champions, the FIA Formula E Championship on 2014, and the IAAF announced the 2015 World Championships in Athletics in 2010. Besides sporting events, there have been concerts like the one held by Jackie Chan in 2009, Leehom Wang the American-Chinese pop star in 2012, the Taiwanese band Mayday in 2012, among others. After the Olympics the venue has been looking for alternative uses to ensure that it continues being a functioning landmark in the city that can bring people together in alternative spaces to the events that can be held there. The amount of events is not even close to the ones expected making it quite an expensive relic, since the yearly costs for maintaining it rise up to $9 million. They have tried to find alternative uses and have been pretty creative in creating spaces that attract tourists such as a snow theme park in 2010.  The big upcoming event is the 2022 Winter Olympics, making this stadium the only one to have hosted the opening ceremonies of the Summer and a Winter Olympics and Paralympics. This amazing landmark stands tall and is a must on tourists list of places to visit when they make their way to Beijing.

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