Archive for the ‘stadium’ Category

Chinese Capitalists outmaneuver architects!

02/03/2009

Remember when Herzog and de Meuron thought they were being subversive in Beijing? They designed the provocative and hugely successful Olympic Stadium:

Herzog: … Our vision was to create a public space, a space for the public, where social life is possible, where something can happen, something that can, quite deliberately, be subversive or — at least — not easy to control or keep track of.

SPIEGEL: Your architecture as an act of resistance? Aren’t you exaggerating?

Herzog: No. We see the stadium as a type of Trojan horse. We fulfilled the spatial program we were given, but interpreted it in such a way that it can be used in different ways along it perimeters. As a result, we made everyday meeting places possible in locations that are not easily monitored, places with all kinds of niches and smaller segments. In other words, no public parade grounds.

Well now comes word from the Shanghai Daily that

The area around Beijing’s National Stadium, or “Bird’s Nest,” will be turned into a shopping and entertainment complex in three to five years.

Plans call for the US$450 million stadium to be the anchor for a complex of shops and entertainment outlets in three to five years, according to the CITIC Group, operator of the stadium, which was the showpiece of the Beijing Olympics in August last year.

Tourists now pay 50 yuan (US$7) to walk on the stadium floor and browse a souvenir shop.

It attracts an average of 20,000 to 30,000 visitors every day, according to Beijing tourism authorities.

The CITIC Group will continue to develop tourism as a major draw for the Bird’s Nest, while seeking sports and entertainment events.

The only confirmed event at the 91,000-seat stadium this year is Puccini’s opera “Turandot,” on August 8 – the first anniversary of the Olympics’ opening ceremony. The stadium has no permanent tenant after Beijing’s top football club, Guo’an, backed out of a deal to play there.

According to the company, maintenance of the 250,000-square-meter National Stadium will cost 60 million yuan a year, making it hard to make profit.

From the same pre-Olympics interview with Spiegel:

Herzog: Over the years, we were often completely perplexed, because we couldn’t gauge how our design was being received. What was missing was a clear response. But everything fell nicely into place in the end. … It just happens to be the case that in China, you can never be quite sure how anything will turn out.

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Form Follows Fascists

08/19/2008

I know the


looks like a


which can symbolize rebirth (the egg), freedom (flight) and a place to nurture new “movements.”

But I’ve been trying to figure out what the Beijing “Bird’s Nest” stadium really reminds me of. It’s interesting for its porosity, its irregularity, its non-Euclidean geometry. It recalls the work of artists who enclosed space in a similar way.



Christo and Jeanne-Claude.

“Wrapped bottle” is from 2001-2007. “Wrapped Snoopy House” is from 2004. And “Wrapped Paintings” is from 1969.

But Christo has been sending us packages like this since the late 1950’s. Since soon after he fled his native part of the world- communist Eastern Europe.

“Bird’s Nest” architects from Switzerland Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron worked with Chinese artist Ai Weiwei on their stadium, not with Christo.

Ai Weiwei is famously critical of the Chinese government. He told the Guardian,

We must bid farewell to autocracy. Whatever shape it takes, whatever justification it gives, authoritarian government always ends up trampling on equality, denying justice and stealing happiness and laughter from the people.

I like his use of the word “shape.” The “shape” inside the wrapping? The truth is wrapped?

Back to Christo. He grew up in autocratic Bulgaria. He was born in 1935, the Red Army occupied his homeland in 1944. They changed it from an fascist ideological regime to a Stalinist communist one. In 1957 Christo escaped eastern Europe.

Is his art partly about the Communist state “wrapping” the truth? Covering up the true social conditions? He doesn’t deny this.

At the Beijing stadium, does seeing the “wrapping” in such a physical form, and beautiful, which means that what’s inside might be beautiful too, does this architectural statement make us more desirous of unwrapping? Of getting at a truth, (or at beauty)?

In this way Weiwei and the architects could be fomenting social change. No wonder Ai Weiwei said he wouldn’t attend the opening ceremonies of the Olympics and Herzog and de Meuron were in some ways not credited enough, shoved under the rug by the authorities. (Again, truth hidden?)

Reminds me also of Winston Churchill’s “Russia is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma.”

The walls are porous. The truth will leak out


and in.

Even the pavement around the stadium is not a single entity, but is divided into pieces. Individualism. As each of the steel rods supporting this great structure is valuable, and unique. Like the words in a good poem. Like the citizens in a free society.

To end then, more good words from Ai Weiwei

… The “Bird’s Nest” National Stadium, which I helped to conceive, is designed to embody the Olympic spirit of “fair competition”. It tells people that freedom is possible but needs fairness, courage and strength.



I’ll ask Ai Weiwei about this when I talk with him on September 17.

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Can anybody beat Beijing? Is the US ready to compete for the 2016 Olympic Games?

08/14/2008

What’s the difference between


and

Between


and

Between

and

Ambition? Vision? Economics? Arrogance? The amalgamated power of the society behind it? If you think it’s all of the above, read this.

I write about it in the Huffington Post. You’re welcome to comment.

These pictures show you the difference. Symbols matter. So does ease of movement. So do first impressions and entries into cities and cultures.

Images in order:

a. Beijing “Bird’s Nest” stadium
b. Proposed stadium for Chicago, for the Olympics 2016 bid

a. Magnetic levitation train between Shanghai and its airport
b. Blue Line train between O’Hare and Chicago

a. New terminal at Beijing airport
b. new terminal at Chicago Midway airport

More from me on China here.

Can anybody beat Beijing? Is the US ready to compete for the 2016 Olympic Games?

08/14/2008

What’s the difference between


and

Between


and

Between

and

Ambition? Vision? Economics? Arrogance? The amalgamated power of the society behind it? If you think it’s all of the above, read this.

I write about it in the Huffington Post. You’re welcome to comment.

These pictures show you the difference. Symbols matter. So does ease of movement. So do first impressions and entries into cities and cultures.

Images in order:

a. Beijing “Bird’s Nest” stadium
b. Proposed stadium for Chicago, for the Olympics 2016 bid

a. Magnetic levitation train between Shanghai and its airport
b. Blue Line train between O’Hare and Chicago

a. New terminal at Beijing airport
b. new terminal at Chicago Midway airport

More from me on China here.

Watch a video on Herzog and de Meuron’s "Bird’s Nest" Beijing Olympic Stadium ——————— Then scroll down for the latest posts.

02/06/2008

Click on the arrow to play.
Turn your sound down or off if you’re at work.

(I don’t create the videos. I just like ’em. Most have credits.)

01/23/2007

Chicago’s 2016 Olympics plan


The temporary stadium in Washington Park, to be dismantled after the games. It has “Chicago-style,” meaning a straightforward elegance. The International Olympic Commitee should like this, it seems in the league of stadia conceived by Calatrava, Foster and Ando for Olympic games. The extended roof area would be for Olympic officials and the media. Is that the proper spirit?


An outer skin will display images of Olympic athletics.


If the US Olympic Committee chooses Chicago over L.A., then the competion for the 2016 games would include Tokyo, where Tadao Ando is the master planner! He recently displayed in Chicago his design for a partly floating stadium concealed by a forest he would plant. It was spectacular.

Here’s the latest image for Chicago’s Olympic Village,


designed by Ross Wimer and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. They undulate and curve like sand formations, with many openings to the lake views. After the Olympics when it would grow higher than eight stories, they’d have skybridges and some public space on top.

But what’s really interesting is the new harbor, see that! A new harbor around 31st street.


Can I park my skiff there?

Here’s the plan for Northerly Island, which used to be the small airstrip Meigs Field, until our Jolly Green Mayor in the dead of night sent in bulldozers to put John Hancock-like “x’s” in the runaways, closing it down so he could convert it into a park. I applaud him and his bold methods. I think that kind of bravado in a leader makes a city great. As long as it’s civic-minded, which his is.


And here’s a nice feature of the new plan, the


See the rowing competition lanes between – just south of Navy Pier and just north of the Shedd Aquarium? Put a TV camera west of that, facing the skyline and you’ll have a tourism director’s dream shot of the cityscape.

To compete there they’d have to move the boats from Monroe harbor. During the games they’d go in the new slips shown above. (I’ll have to find somewhere to keep mine.)

The plans are strong, maybe without quite the romance of
Daniel Burnham’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition – a project which should be the benchmark here.

Do I think we’ll get the games? I think the world, unfortunately, is in an anti-U.S. mood which to me makes it unlikely that the International Olympic Committee will give them to us in 2016.

-E

01/23/2007

Chicago’s 2016 Olympics plan


The temporary stadium in Washington Park, to be dismantled after the games. It has “Chicago-style,” meaning a straightforward elegance. The International Olympic Commitee should like this, it seems in the league of stadia conceived by Calatrava, Foster and Ando for Olympic games. The extended roof area would be for Olympic officials and the media. Is that the proper spirit?


An outer skin will display images of Olympic athletics.


If the US Olympic Committee chooses Chicago over L.A., then the competion for the 2016 games would include Tokyo, where Tadao Ando is the master planner! He recently displayed in Chicago his design for a partly floating stadium concealed by a forest he would plant. It was spectacular.

Here’s the latest image for Chicago’s Olympic Village,


designed by Ross Wimer and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. They undulate and curve like sand formations, with many openings to the lake views. After the Olympics when it would grow higher than eight stories, they’d have skybridges and some public space on top.

But what’s really interesting is the new harbor, see that! A new harbor around 31st street.


Can I park my skiff there?

Here’s the plan for Northerly Island, which used to be the small airstrip Meigs Field, until our Jolly Green Mayor in the dead of night sent in bulldozers to put John Hancock-like “x’s” in the runaways, closing it down so he could convert it into a park. I applaud him and his bold methods. I think that kind of bravado in a leader makes a city great. As long as it’s civic-minded, which his is.


And here’s a nice feature of the new plan, the


See the rowing competition lanes between – just south of Navy Pier and just north of the Shedd Aquarium? Put a TV camera west of that, facing the skyline and you’ll have a tourism director’s dream shot of the cityscape.

To compete there they’d have to move the boats from Monroe harbor. During the games they’d go in the new slips shown above. (I’ll have to find somewhere to keep mine.)

The plans are strong, maybe without quite the romance of
Daniel Burnham’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition – a project which should be the benchmark here.

Do I think we’ll get the games? I think the world, unfortunately, is in an anti-U.S. mood which to me makes it unlikely that the International Olympic Committee will give them to us in 2016.

-E

01/23/2007

Chicago’s 2016 Olympics plan


The temporary stadium in Washington Park, to be dismantled after the games. It has “Chicago-style,” meaning a straightforward elegance. The International Olympic Commitee should like this, it seems in the league of stadia conceived by Calatrava, Foster and Ando for Olympic games. The extended roof area would be for Olympic officials and the media. Is that the proper spirit?


An outer skin will display images of Olympic athletics.


If the US Olympic Committee chooses Chicago over L.A., then the competion for the 2016 games would include Tokyo, where Tadao Ando is the master planner! He recently displayed in Chicago his design for a partly floating stadium concealed by a forest he would plant. It was spectacular.

Here’s the latest image for Chicago’s Olympic Village,


designed by Ross Wimer and Skidmore, Owings and Merrill. They undulate and curve like sand formations, with many openings to the lake views. After the Olympics when it would grow higher than eight stories, they’d have skybridges and some public space on top.

But what’s really interesting is the new harbor, see that! A new harbor around 31st street.


Can I park my skiff there?

Here’s the plan for Northerly Island, which used to be the small airstrip Meigs Field, until our Jolly Green Mayor in the dead of night sent in bulldozers to put John Hancock-like “x’s” in the runaways, closing it down so he could convert it into a park. I applaud him and his bold methods. I think that kind of bravado in a leader makes a city great. As long as it’s civic-minded, which his is.


And here’s a nice feature of the new plan, the


See the rowing competition lanes between – just south of Navy Pier and just north of the Shedd Aquarium? Put a TV camera west of that, facing the skyline and you’ll have a tourism director’s dream shot of the cityscape.

To compete there they’d have to move the boats from Monroe harbor. During the games they’d go in the new slips shown above. (I’ll have to find somewhere to keep mine.)

The plans are strong, maybe without quite the romance of
Daniel Burnham’s 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition – a project which should be the benchmark here.

Do I think we’ll get the games? I think the world, unfortunately, is in an anti-U.S. mood which to me makes it unlikely that the International Olympic Committee will give them to us in 2016.

-E