Beijing's Olympic Lessons for Chicago

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.

"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."

Full Story: Behind Beijing's icons...and how what we see on TV will be different than what Chicago wants to build for the 2016 Olympics


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