National Stadium

The Beijing National Stadium is also known as the National Stadium, or colloquially as the "Bird's Nest" for its architecture, is a stadium in the Olympic Green in Beijing, China that was completed in March 2008. The stadium hosted the main track and field competitions for the 2008 Summer Olympics, the opening and closing ceremonies and the men's football gold medal match. It is located east of the Beijing National Aquatics Center. The Stadium now holds the Olympic Flame cauldron, which is shaped as a conical scroll. The cauldron was placed on the top during the opening ceremony, so that it could then be lit at the end of the ceremony. The flame remained there until the end of the 2008 games. It was the last Olympic flame to be lit outdoors until the next Summer Olympics, in London; when it's next lit, in Vancouver, it will be lit indoors; opening ceremony for the XXI Olympic Winter Games there scheduled for February 12, 2010.

Design

In 2002, Government officials engaged architects worldwide in a design competition. Pritzker Prize-winning architects Herzog & de Meuron collaborated with ArupSport and China Architecture Design & Research Group to win the competition. The ground was broken on Christmas Eve, 2003, and construction started in March 2004. Construction was halted following the collapse of Terminal 2E at Paris Charles de Gaulle International Airport, which had a similar design to the National Stadium. After modifications to the design, construction recommenced. In January 2008, concerns about construction working conditions arose when it was claimed there were at least 10 deaths during construction. Beijing officials have stated there were 2 deaths in the construction of the stadium, with 1 serious injury and 3 light injuries.

Specifications

The stadium currently has a seating capacity of 91,000. The capacity will be reduced to 80,000 after the Olympic Games. The stadium is 330 metres (1,082 ft) long by 220 metres (721 ft) wide, and is 69.2 metres (227 ft) tall. The stadium uses 258,000 square metres (2,777,112 square feet) of space and has a usable area of 204,000 square metres (2,195,856 square feet). It was built with 36 km (22.4 miles) of unwrapped steel, with a combined weight of 45,000 tonnes (49,600 tons). The stadium will cost up to 3.5 billion yuan ($423 million or €340 million).

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