Beijing's Olympic Lessons for Chicago

<p>Olympics-related construction in Beijing has impressed many, but does little to make the city a better place. Architecture critic Blair Kamin says Chicago needs to be careful about not repeating China's mistakes if it hosts the games in 2016.</p>
August 7, 2008, 12pm PDT | Nate Berg
Share Tweet LinkedIn Email Comments

"The smog-filled skies are not Beijing's only problem. Striking, stand-alone buildings may make for good TV, but they do not necessarily make up a livable city."

"Some American architecture critics have remarked that, despite its wealth of avant-garde design, Beijing now feels like Houston on steroids, a sprawling mess of concentric ring roads and mediocre high-rises. The logical extension of this view is that Beijing's "wow-chitecture" amounts to little more than a dazzling deception, a variation on the theme of the Potemkin village."

"While Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley plans to fly to Beijing Sunday, he 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-in short, connective tissue. The London Summer Games of 2012, which will accentuate sustainable design and planning, are another key influence on Chicago."

Share Tweet LinkedIn Email