SBD/Issue 222/Olympics

Bird's Nest, Water Cube Impress, But Other Facilities Dissapoint

Critic Feels Venues Like Main
Basketball Facility Lacking In Style
The stadiums and facilities designed for the Beijing Games "are a very mixed collection of buildings," according to WASHINGTON POST culture critic Philip Kennicott, who writes under the subhead, "Amid China's Dull Olympics Architecture, In A City More Gray Than Green, Two Imports Shine." The Beijing National Stadium and the National Aquatics Centre are "two architectural gems." But many of the 37 "new, rehabilitated or temporary facilities spread across Beijing and China ... have been built so quickly and haphazardly that they look cheap." Some temporary sites, including the archery field, "are embarrassingly functional." The taekwondo stadium, which was built to serve as a permanent sports facility, "is covered with red metal panels that make its front oppressive," and many of the venue's spaces "feel dark and enclosed." The main basketball facility, the Wukesong Indoor Stadium, "is also covered with metal panels," and its windows are also covered. There is "no one overriding sense of style to the new venues." Kennicott: "The architecture of the Olympics encapsulates the state of architecture in China: The glory projects are not particularly Chinese, and much of what is Chinese is not particularly good. Put another way, if it isn't expensive, it probably isn't worth a second glance" (WASHINGTON POST, 8/7). In London, Richard Williams writes under the header, "From Listless Grey To Silvery Gleam, The Bird's Nest Is A Perfect Symbol. China's New National Stadium Unwittingly Reflects All The Seemingly Contradictory Facets Of These Games" (GUARDIAN.co.uk, 8/7). But in Boston, Bob Ryan writes the Chinese are "not messing around," as they "have constructed some magnificent facilities." The Water Cube is "vying with the Bird's Nest for the gold medal in building architecture" (BOSTON GLOBE, 8/7).

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