Beijing's Design: Smart, Chic and Green

China called upon the world community of gifted talent to build and design the most magnificent, green, tech-savvy buildings that you've ever seen, all done with Chinese thoughtfulness. There's no way that London will be able to have so many new sports stadiums built by so many renowned architects.

The three main tennis courts in the Olympic Forest Park are dodecagons, with each of the 12 sides serving as a stand. The stands, in turn, look like petals of a lotus flower. Taking into account the size of the tennis ball and its high speed, the architects designed steep stands that give fans the best line of sight, according to Zheng Fang, chief architect of the Shenzhen Design Consultant Corporation.

At high temperatures, Zheng continued, automatic curtains attached to the roof fall down to shade quadrangular gaps between the sunlight petals.

The precise and purposeful architecture aligns with Chinese principles.

Take the Main Press Building of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Games of the XXIX Olympiad. Its press conference rooms are named Pine Tree, Orchard, Bamboo and Plum Blossom, all of which have significant meaning in the Chinese culture of beauty, harmony, balance and peace.

The Bird's Nest is round, while the Water Cube is square, in keeping with the Chinese belief that the sky is round and land square. The former is made out of hard steel, the latter out of soft plastic membrane. The former is masculine, the latter feminine. These two magnificent structures embody the notion of Yin and Yang — that is, of contrasts. That notion, in turn, embodies China's view on Earth's function and evolution.

The president of the International Olympic Committee, Jacques Rogge, told me that green Olympics, high-tech Olympics, and people's Olympics constitute the vision to achieve a "harmonious development of society."

All new buildings use materials and technologies that reduce thermal conduction and lighten lead, thereby producing energy savings of 60 percent. The buildings even have mechanisms for collecting rainwater.

The 29th Olympics aren't, however, just about architecture or athletics. They're about showcasing a proud society. Within the first two days of online volunteer sign-up, 849,000 people had applied. The official ticketing website received 8 million hits the first hour, while the ticketing hotline received 3.8 million calls.

The Olympic Games, in short, aren't a project of the Chinese government — they're a project of the Chinese people.


Kathy Kemper is founder and CEO of the Institute for Education, a nonprofit foundation that recognizes and promotes leadership and civility locally, nationally and in the world community.