CCTV towers brace for Olympics

Network's Beijing facility gets modern makeover

BEIJING As befits a nation in which all efforts are being geared toward the upcoming Olympics, the new CCTV towers, an 80-story building that will integrate all aspects of TV at the world’s most-watched network (at roughly 1 billion viewers), soon will be ready more for Games than work.

Designed by the ultra-hip Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren from the Office of Metropolitan Architecture (OMA), China Central Television’s “Twisted Doughnut” HQ is one of the signature structures being built for the Olympics, which will be held in August.

The structure will be ready in time for the Games even if it will not go completely live as the HQ of CCTV.

However, upon its completion — most likely in 2010 — the CCTV headquarters will accommodate more than 10,000 staff members and visitors per day and have the capability to broadcast to 250 channels worldwide.

The 80-story building will have almost 5 million square feet of space, and the plan is to integrate all aspects of TV — administration, news broadcasting and program production — in a single place.

The overall project includes three structures: the CCTV building, the Television Cultural Center and a service building. A surrounding Media Park forms a landscape of gardens for outdoor filming and public events.

The architects point to a public Visitors’ Loop as indicative of the project’s initiative to make media more accessible in China’s rapidly changing society.

It offers the public visual access to thesps’ lounges, dressing rooms, production studios and canteens, and also includes the sky lobby and exhibition deck overlooking Beijing’s Central Business District.

“Everybody is excited about these buildings going up. This is a very special experience, even for someone like me who’s been in the business for many years,” says Rory McGowan, an engineer from the Arup company, which is supervising the CCTV building program.

The world’s brightest and boldest avant-garde archi-

tects, including titans such as Koolhaas, Norman Foster, Jacques Herzog, Pierre de Meuron and Paul Andreu, are building in Beijing. Zaha Hadid and Albert Speer Jr. have also been involved in the Olympics projects, either taking part in competitions or helping with planning issues.

Of the 31 Beijing Olympics venues, 12 are new, 11 are older buildings being refurbished and eight are temporary structures.

Except for the National Stadium, due to be completed in March, all the venues were to be completed by the end of 2007, with 300,000 migrant workers making up the construction squad.

Another Olympic signature building is the National Grand Theater, a futuristic, dome-shaped bubble just at the edge of Tiananmen Square, which was designed by French architect Andreu.

The Chinese have wanted a central theater to stage big productions since Premier Zhou Enlai first raised the issue in the 1950s.

Right now it is invitation-only and mostly shows domestic favorites, such as the stirring patriotic extravaganza “The Red Detachment of Women,” but it is set to host more Western-style shows soon, including opera from European houses such as the Deutsche Opera and Cameron Mackintosh-produced musicals.

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