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Olympic Stadium: Beijing National Stadium


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I absolutely don't expect it to be the cauldron tower. And that's actually all I have to say about that.

Don't crap your pants, everyone, this could be anything! But if you ask me, I would guess they're setting up the suspended cauldron's support because (1) where it sits on the stadiums (on a corne

Exactly. The architectural firm of Herzog and de Meuron.

True, but the BOOC accepted the design, ergo they are largely at fault for the look.

In any case, I've already made it clear I don't care for the stadium and I'll leave it at that.

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True, but the BOOC accepted the design, ergo they are largely at fault for the look.

In any case, I've already made it clear I don't care for the stadium and I'll leave it at that.

Does it really matter? Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. So, since you don't like the look of the edifice, are you going to refrain from watching the T&F events this summer? :rolleyes:

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What is that 'raised slab' at the end of the straight-away -- there by the ringside seats? A mirror? :blink: I've never seen anything like that!!

That raised platform is just for cameras to get good shots and angles of whatever is happening on that straightaway - Parade of Nations, Athletics' finishes, etc:

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I attended the inaugural public event at the Birds Nest—Intl Racewalking Challenge. Here are some of my impressions/opinions based on seeing the stadium up-close-and- personal. Be forewarned, as it is a bit long, I’ll split it into 3 posts with subtopics.

I: Exterior, Concourse

Exterior: I didn’t get a prison- or cage-like feel when walking around and between the steel framing. Actually, the whole thing feels surprisingly open. The “egg” lighting outside is strictly for pathway and atmosphere, the main lighting is on masts which are still surrounded by scaffolding. There will be plenty. Only some of the gate entrances were being used for entry/exit, but there seem to be plenty when the Stadium is under full Olympic capacity. Only tickets are checked at these gates—security is set closer to the road. It is a LONG LONG walk from the road access point and security checkpoint, to the Stadium itself (probably the better part of 1 km). Landscaping and signage is in progress but has quite a bit still to be accomplished.

Concourse: Only the first tier at main/ground level was open to the public, and all routes up were blocked off, including those outrageously long stairs as seen in pictures. A pity, as I wanted to try out a few upper vantage points. The first tier seats around 25,000, and I estimate the crowd for the Friday morning event was around 15,000 (a goodly portion of the first tier was blocked and not for sale.) Concourse seemed reasonably roomy and horizontal movement was easy. The seating bowl and the exterior are separated by 12 enclosed service cores, all painted red. Service cores each contain lifts (controlled access), additional stairs, toilets, concessions, other support services, etc. As far as I can tell, there are two sets of escalators: one on each side of the stadium at the center of the straightaways. They are enclosed in shafts and access was limited to certain badge holders. I suspect that will be the case when the facility is in full operation—escalators only for VIP’s, etc.

I was prepared for the concourse to be oppressive due to the red red red, as somebody commented on the pictures. The red is actually survivable, what makes the concourse a bit off-putting is the ceiling—completely painted in black—I think this was a mistake and a gray or beige would have been much better. Those pendant lights definitely look goofy and out-of-place, although I suspect they were custom and expensive. (Note to Stadium architects—is it too late to get your money back?) There is additional perimeter concourse lighting that has not yet been installed—it appears to be set up for some kind of fluorescent strip fixture, which doesn't sound very appetizing.

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II. Service Cores, Circulation

Toilets and Services: I’m a fanatical checker of ladies toilets wherever I go (joke all you want). The ones I went into had nearly 50 individual stalls, nearly all western-style toilets (white fixtures). The stalls were sort of arranged in “alleys” going off illogically in various directions. About 2 dozen sinks in the lav area. The flooring is a black resin (looks like a mess to keep clean), and every wall and stall door is painted w/BLACK textured coating, with the inside of the stalls garish RED also textured coating. The entire layout and color selection has the disorienting effect of trying to find your way in and out of a House of Horrors—I kid you not! I think the Mens is similar. Really, I’ve never seen anything quite like this, ever. But at least the facilities were clean and Lord have Mercy, well stocked with toilet paper!

Other services such as food/beverage concessions, merchandising, stroller/wheelchair rental and storage, lost & found, first aid, etc. appeared to be running smoothly. There is a special entrance and area for credentialed media and their support.

Vertical Circulation and Wheelchair Accessibility: There are definitely lifts at every service core, but it’s unclear how they will use them during the Olympics. My guess is they will be limited to VIP’s and Sponsors, skybox and restaurant users, and the disabled. The main concourse level has a lot of wheelchair seating available at the back of the first tier, with companion seats immediately adjacent. So they can roll right into place without having to negotiate stairs or lifts. My guess is that more WC seating is available on the second tier to be accessed by lift, if needed for a particular event. There are separate dedicated WC restrooms in the cores. Each core also has a wide set of stairs with signage, in addition to the extra long ones at the exterior, seen in the photos. It’s possible that the internal stairs and lifts will be used to get people up (esp to the top tier) and the external ones will be encouraged for exit. Regardless, those external stairs are needed for fire exiting reasons. Chinese are used to walking up and down massively long flights of stairs, so convenience of the public was probably not the priority issue in the design of these things.

There are 7 levels: “O” is field-track level, “M” is some kind of internal mezzanine for athlete and other back-of-house support, (O and M are below-grade), “1” is the first tier/main entry and concourse, “2” is the tier 2 middle level seating, “3” is restaurant level, “4” skyboxes and “5” upper tier seating. If you look at the photos above the straightaway track sections each side, you can see the glass of the restaurants and skyboxes between the 2nd and 3rd tier seating. I could see construction debris inside, so these levels are obviously not yet completed.

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III. Stadium and Seating

General: Seating is sliced into 12 segments A-M (no I), with A and G being the prime seats at the center of the straights. D and K at the center of the ends. Some of the seating in 3 sections (A-B-C) esp in Tier 2 are not yet installed. The central field area is not finished and some areas of the track are undergoing repair work. I agree with the posters who said the stadium looks boring on the inside. It is. The red and white seats are OK, but I wish a different color for the track had been chosen. However, at least when the seats are full of people, you won’t see that much red except for the track.

The seats are simple plastic bucket-type of average width (not too generous if you are a “person of size” but your average Chinese will be fine), each on its own pedestal, not the most comfortable I’ve ever sat in but adequate. Leg room is good.

Sightlines are good, at least from the 1st tier, and the Stadium feels more intimate in real-life than the pictures imply. I was in section K at the end, dead center, about halfway up the first tier and just under the structural edge of the 2nd tier. Normally I don’t like the End Zone area, but it was actually pretty good, and had the bonus of being next to sponsor Yanjing Beer’s concession area, where COLD 330 ml bottles of Yanjing were going for 8 RMB. (As it was 9 a.m. there weren’t many takers, but I suspect sales were great at the afternoon session!)

Scoreboards and giant screens: Scoreboard at the exact opposite end of the stadium to me was fine and quite readable, but the giant TV screen was washed out, despite the fact that I was on the north side and the screen was in shadow. I think this is probably going to remain a problem for daytime sessions but shouldn’t be an issue at night.

P.A. system: This needs adjustment. It was hard to hear the announcer over the crowd, and the habit of playing background music with the announcer’s voice-over didn’t help. I hate to sound sexist here (being a woman myself), but they need to use either all male announcers, or females with louder and deeper alto voices—that typical squeaky little Chinese female chirping just doesn’t cut it.

Roofing: The membrane is fine and I think it will do the job of sun- and rain-protection it is supposed to do. What structure you can see behind it looks like a spider web not a birds nest—you can’t really get a sense of the large steel superstructure from inside the stadium bowl. The “thickness” at the edge is not really a roof, it is a parapet screen canted at an angle, to hide equipment and service catwalks. The photos make this area look strange, but in reality, it’s fine.

There did seem to be a lot of overhead wires—it seemed an awful lot just to hang flags on, and there wouldn’t be any structural purpose to them. Maybe for Chinese acrobats during the Ceremonies???

Cauldron/Flame: Try as I might, I cannot figure out what they are going to do about this. I’m an architect and construction proj manager, and can usually spot signs as to what might be placed in position in the future. But, any clue as to what’s going to happen within the stadium is being kept well hidden.

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That raised platform is just for cameras to get good shots and angles of whatever is happening on that straightaway - Parade of Nations, Athletics' finishes, etc:

Thanks. Makes sense now.

Cauldron/Flame: Try as I might, I cannot figure out what they are going to do about this. I’m an architect and construction proj manager, and can usually spot signs as to what might be placed in position in the future. But, any clue as to what’s going to happen within the stadium is being kept well hidden.

Because it's going to come out of the ground and then hang in the air for less than a night.

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Why less than a night?

Because Baron sticks to the theory that at the opening ceremony, they'll have a cauldron rising out of the centre of the field which will be dismantled again shortly after the ceremony (because it would be in the way for the athletic events and the men's football final), while the Olympic Flame will be transferred to a cauldron tower outside the stadium.

But don't bother too much about it -- it won't happen anyway. They'll have a permanent cauldron which will be in use for the whole duration of the Games.

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Some of the seating in 3 sections (A-B-C) esp in Tier 2 are not yet installed.

If you mean this area of the stadium - as said previously, that's always customized for the media with desks for broadcasts, cameras, etc.

But anyways, thanks for insight, jiejie. Very informative.

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If you mean this area of the stadium - as said previously, that's always customized for the media with desks for broadcasts, cameras, etc.

But anyways, thanks for insight, jiejie. Very informative.

You're definitely right on the bottom part of that picture (the lower tier closest to the track). On the middle tier above it, I'm not so sure, as it seems to be an awful lot of room being left in an illogical place for media to perch. I asked a few people who had something to do with running the facility there, and they said that more seats would be installed in that location, not that this should be taken as gospel! I hope they do put more seats up there, as it's a big chunk of real estate that I'm sure they could fill with spectators. Also the seats are B Category--which is what most of my Athletics tickets are :)

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Because Baron sticks to the theory that at the opening ceremony, they'll have a cauldron rising out of the centre of the field which will be dismantled again shortly after the ceremony (because it would be in the way for the athletic events and the men's football final), while the Olympic Flame will be transferred to a cauldron tower outside the stadium.

But don't bother too much about it -- it won't happen anyway. They'll have a permanent cauldron which will be in use for the whole duration of the Games.

Well, where else is it going to go/come out of? Plus, they are NOT going to leave it hanging in the air vis-a-vis those earlier 'sneak' renderings. It is too dangerous and distracting, and certainly the IOC would not allow it.

The other alternative is doing an interior 'Seoul' thing. But it's been done already; and no one outside the stadium sees it. This is, after all,the People's Republic, so I believe it will end up outside Birds Nest.

Bite me if I'm wrong. <_<

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Well, where else is it going to go/come out of? Plus, they are NOT going to leave it hanging in the air vis-a-vis those earlier 'sneak' renderings. It is too dangerous and distracting, and certainly the IOC would not allow it.

The other alternative is doing an interior 'Seoul' thing. But it's been done already; and no one outside the stadium sees it. This is, after all,the People's Republic, so I believe it will end up outside Birds Nest.

Bite me if I'm wrong. <_<

It may be just traditional opening ceremony director hot air, but Zhang Yimou has said that the lighting of the cauldron will be really spectacular, more so than Barcelona.

So maybe u r onto something.

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