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Beijing Venues Impressive Despite Local Firms, "Modest" Budgets
Published August 4, 2008
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Reviews From Architecture Critic
MASSIVE MAKEOVER: In London, Clifford Coonan notes of the 31 Olympics venues, 12 are new, 11 are renovated older buildings and eight are temporary structures. Beijing's new architecture "looks amazing," and the building boom "has been matched by impressive levels of organisation elsewhere." And despite the "destruction of large swathes of the city, most of the people remain unapologetically enthusiastic about the games" (London INDEPENDENT, 8/4). Also in London, Jane Macartney notes Beijing has spent US$40B and "spared no effort" to make the Olympics the "most spectacular Games of modern times." The "not-so-subliminal message that the venues are determined to project is that China is a force to be reckoned with." It seems Beijing "has come full circle" (LONDON TIMES, 8/4). In N.Y., Filip Bondy writes the Bird's Nest is an "architectural knockout" (N.Y. DAILY NEWS, 8/4). But in Pittsburgh, Shelly Anderson wrote while observers may be "dazzled by the modern, almost pop-art Olympic venues," it is "unclear if that will be enough to quiet concerns over human rights issues" (PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE, 8/3).
RETRO-CHIC: In Chicago, Blair Kamin wrote the "spectacular architecture will play a leading role" in the Games, as TV cameras will capture "some of the most eye-popping new structures on the planet." But Chicago Mayor Richard Daley "already has signaled that a Chicago Games would be based not on the Beijing model, but on the Barcelona model, which emphasized refurbishing the urban spaces between buildings rather than attention-getting architecture" (CHICAGO TRIBUNE, 8/3).