Architecture September 20, 2011 By Nalina Moses

Phoenix International Media Center, Beijing, China, 2007-2009.  By BIAD_UPo.

Phoenix International Media Center, Beijing, China, 2007-2009. By BIAD_UPo.

title54 Journey to the East
Ten years ago there was a joke that half of the world’s construction cranes were in Dubai. Today the joke might be that half of the world’s construction cranes are in mainland China, and that factories in China are producing more cranes every day. There’s been cataclysmic industrialization there and, along with it, an awesome amount of new construction. Old neighborhoods are being razed and, with incredible speed, gleaming new cities are rising. An exhibit at Rome’s modern art museum MAXXI, “Verso Est: Chinese Architectural Landscape,” takes a closer look at the architecture that’s emerging.
     Because of relatively unregulated city planning and construction, buildings get built in China more quickly than they could ever get built in North America or Europe. So while New Yorkers wait and watch Tower One rise at the World Trade Center site, Beijing’s Central China Television (CCTV) headquarters by Rem Koolhaas, which was designed at the same time, has already been open for over a year. The breakneck pace of construction is impressive and also risky. Before it’s opening in 2010 the entire exterior shell of the CCTV tower went up in flame when some stray fireworks hit it. It’s an accident that probably wouldn’t have happened at an American building site, where federal safety standards ensure that building materials are fire resistant.

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