Beijing skyline rises faster, higher, stronger

BEIJING, July 12, 2008 (AFP) – As the waves of tourists converge on Beijing over the next month for the Olympics, they will look up to see a stunning new skyline that China’s leaders hope will showcase the nation as a modern world power. Thirty years ago the city was a poverty-stricken backwater studded by a few dull Stalinist monuments grafted onto an ancient and decaying imperial capital.

The transformation has taken place at dizzying speed in the years leading up the Olympics with around 10,000 sites under construction, many of which will still be unfinished when the Games start on August 8.

“The Olympics is a world event and world-class architecture has been delivered for that event,” said Rory McGowan, the director of the Beijing office of international design engineers Arup.

Arup has been involved in several of these world class structures, including the new CCTV Tower and China’s National Stadium, centrepiece of the Games.

The CCTV tower, headquarters of China’s state television station, is in fact two towers leaning inward and locked together in a high-altitude embrace.

It is a symbol of cutting-edge work under way here and all over China.

“Beijing is pointing architecture in a new direction,” said