Beijing

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Posted by motoman 03/01/2009 @ 11:00

Tags : beijing, china, asia, world

News headlines
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Beijing Capital International Airport

Beijing Capital International Airport - Terminal 2 Domestic & International Departure Hall Drop Off Entrance.

Beijing Capital International Airport, (simplified Chinese: 北京首都国际机场; traditional Chinese: 北京首都國際機場; pinyin: Běijīng Shǒudū Guójì Jīchǎng) (IATA: PEK, ICAO: ZBAA) is the main international airport of Beijing, China. It is located 32 km northeast of Beijing's city center in an enclave of Chaoyang District that is surrounded by rural Shunyi District. The airport is owned and operated by the Beijing Capital International Airport Company Limited, a state-controlled company. The airport's IATA Airport Code, PEK, is based on the city's former romanized name, Peking.

The Beijing Capital International Airport is the largest and busiest airport in China. It is the main hub for China's national flagship carrier Air China, which flies to around 120 destinations (excluding cargo) from Beijing. Hainan and China Southern Airlines also use the airport as their regional hub.

With the swift growth of air travel in China over the past decade, Beijing Capital has rapidly ascended the ranks of the world's busiest airports in the past decade. In 2001, the airport served 24.18 million passengers and was ranked outside of the Top 30 in the world by passenger volume. By 2007, passenger volume had more than doubled to 53.58 million, making Beijing Capital the 9th busiest airport in the world. In 2007, the airport registered 399,697 aircraft movements (take-offs and landings), which ranked 23rd in the world, making Beijing Capital the only Asian airport in the Top 30. The airport hosted about 1,100 flights a day in 2007, a figure that was expected to rise to 1,500-1,600 during the Olympics in 2008.

To accommodate the growing traffic volume, Beijing Capital added the enormous Terminal 3 in 2008, the second largest airport terminal in the world.

Beijing Airport was opened on March 2, 1958. The airport then consisted of one small terminal building, which still stands to this day, apparently for the use of VIPs and charter flights. On January 1, 1980, a newer, larger building - green in colour - opened, with docks for 10 to 12 aircraft. The terminal was larger than the one in the 1950s, but by the mid-1990s, it was too small. The terminal was then closed for renovation after the opening of Terminal 2.

In late 1999, to mark the 50th anniversary of the founding of the PRC, the airport was expanded again. This new terminal opened on November 1, and was named Terminal 2. September 20, 2004, saw the opening of a new Terminal 1 for a few airlines, including China Southern Airlines' domestic and international flights from Beijing. Other airlines' domestic and international flights still operate in Terminal 2.

A third runway of BCIA opened on October 29, 2007, to relieve congestion on the other two runways.

Another expansion, Terminal 3 (T3) was completed in February 2008, in time for the Beijing Olympics. This colossal expansion includes a third runway and another terminal for Beijing airport, and a rail link to the city-center. At its opening, It was the largest man made structure in the world in terms of area covered, and a major landmark in Beijing representing the growing and developing Chinese city. The expansion was largely funded by a 500-million-euro (USD 625 million) loan from the European Investment Bank (EIB). The loan is the largest ever granted by the EIB in Asia; the agreement was signed during the eighth China-EU Summit held in September 2005.

Fresh from hosting the 2008 Olympic Games and completion of its new terminal building, The Beijing Capital International has overtaken Tokyo Haneda to be the busiest airport in Asia based on scheduled seat capacity.

Terminal 1, with 60,000 square meters of space, was opened on January 1, 1980, and replaced the small existing terminal which was in operation since the 1950s. The Terminal was closed for renovation from 1999 to September 20, 2004, during which all airlines operated from Terminal 2. Featuring 16 gates, it was the operational base for China Southern Airlines' domestic routes and a few other airlines such as Xiamen Airlines and Chongqing Airlines, and was originally planned to handle domestic traffic, excluding those to Hong Kong and Macau.

With the opening of Terminal 3, the terminal was closed for light refurbishment, and its airlines were moved to Terminal 2 on May 20, 2008. It reopened on June 27, 2008, and became the operational base for all domestic flights operated by the HNA Group, including those of Hainan Airlines, Grand China Air, Deer Air and Grand China Express Air, while the international flights and the ones between Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and Beijing of the HNA Group remained in Terminal 2.

Terminal 2 opened on November 1, 1999, a month after the 50th anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China. This terminal was used to replace Terminal 1 while the latter was undergoing renovation, cramping all airlines into this terminal despite it being far bigger than Terminal 1 and can handle twenty airplanes at docks connecting directly to the terminal building. Prior to the opening of Terminal 3, the majority of the flights from PEK operated from this terminal. This terminal now houses China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, Skyteam, and other domestic and international flights after Air China, Shanghai Airlines, Star Alliance members, Oneworld members moved operations to the new Terminal 3.

There is a passage linking the two terminals together; this is accessible at the public level (no passports needed). There is limited selection of food and dining options at Terminal 2. There is only one restaurant in the international area of the terminal once passengers pass security, and the prices are several times higher than similar food in downtown Beijing. A Japanese set meal is advertised on the official airport website as RMB 88, four-times higher than a similar offering downtown. By comparison, the domestic area of Terminal 2 has a number of dining options, all at more reasonable prices. Kentucky Fried Chicken and Starbucks have opened outlets in the airport in both Terminals 1 and 2. KFC is available at the basement level in Terminal 2, while Starbucks is available on both landside and airsides.

Construction of Terminal 3 started on March 28, 2004, and was opened in two stages. Trial operations commenced on February 29, 2008, when seven airlines, namely British Airways, El Al Israel Airlines, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Shandong Airlines and Sichuan Airlines moved into the terminal. 20 other airlines moved into the terminal when it became fully operational on March 26, 2008. Currently, it mainly houses Air China, Oneworld, Star Alliance, and other domestic and international flights.

It was designed by a consortium of NACO (Netherlands Airport Consultants B.V), UK Architect Foster and Partners and ARUP. Lighting was designed by UK lighting architects Speirs and Major Associates. The budget of the expansion is US$3.5 billion. Far grander in size and scale than the existing terminals, it was the largest airport terminal-building complex built in a single phase with 986,000 square meters in total floor area at its opening. It features a main passenger terminal (Terminal 3C), two satellite concourses (Terminal 3D and Terminal 3E) and five floors above ground and two underground, with the letters "A and B" omitted to avoid confusions with the existing Terminals 1 and 2. Terminal 3C is dedicated for domestic flights, Terminal 3E for international flights, and Terminal 3D, called the "Olympics Hall", was used for charter flights during the Beijing Olympics, before its use by international flights.

Terminal 3 is larger than London Heathrow Airport's 5 terminals combined with another 17% to spare.

Terminal 3 of the BCIA is currently the second largest airport passenger terminal building of the world. Its title as the world's largest was surrendered to Dubai International Airport's Terminal 3 (over 1,500,000 m²) on October 14, 2008.

A 300,000-square-meter transportation centre is located at the front of T3. 7,000 car-parking spaces will be available if the two-level underground parking lot is fully employed. The transportation centre will have three lanes for different types of vehicles, airport buses, taxis and private vehicles, which will enable a smooth flow of passengers. People bound for T3 will exit their vehicles here and enter T3 via an aisle within five minutes. The transportation centre will also have a light-rail station on a line that begins at the Dongzhimen stop on the Beijing Subway in Central Beijing. Travel time from Dongzhimen to T3 will be about 18 minutes.

There are electrical outlets on either end of every row of seats in the terminal. There are 243 elevators, escalators or moving walkways; and every restroom is accompanied by a mothers’ room where diapers can be changed. There is also a room for travelers with disabilities.

One of Terminal 3's highlights is the US$240 million luggage-transfer system. The luggage system is equipped with yellow carts, each of which has a code, matching the bar code on every piece of luggage loaded on it, allowing easy and accurate tracking. More than 200 cameras will be used to monitor activities in the luggage area.

The luggage system can handle 19,200 pieces of luggage per hour. After luggage is checked in at any one of the 292 counters at Terminal 3C, they can be transferred at a speed of ten metres per second. Even for international routes, luggage can travel from T3C to T3E in five minutes. Arriving passengers should be able to begin retrieving their luggage within 4.5 minutes after airplanes are unloaded.

Along with X-ray scanners, additional equipment conducts checks such as for explosives. Passengers will be able to check in their luggage at the airport several hours or even a day before their flight. The airport will store them in its luggage system and then load them on the correct aircraft.

A 98.3-meter monitoring tower stands at the southern end of T3, the highest building at the airport. The roof of T3 is red, the Chinese color for good luck. The terminal’s ceilings use white strips for decoration and to indicate directions. Under the white strips, the basic color of the ceiling is orange with light to dark tones indicating where a passenger is inside the building. It is light orange in the center and deepens as it extends to the sides in T3E and is the other way round in T3C.

The roof of T3 has dozens of windows to let in daylight. Light angles can be adjusted to ensure adequate interior lighting. However, interior lighting in itself is not sufficient for comfortable reading. Many traditional Chinese elements will be employed in the terminal’s interior decoration, including a “Menhai,” a big copper vat used to store water for fighting fires in the Forbidden City, and the carvings imitating the famous Nine-Dragon Wall (Jiulongbi).

An indoor garden is constructed in the T3E waiting area, in the style of imperial gardens such as the Summer Palace. In T3C, a tunnel landscape of an underground garden has been finished with plants on each side so that passengers can appreciate them inside the mini-train.

The T3 food-service area is called a “global kitchen,” where 72 stores will provide food ranging from formal dishes to fast food, from Chinese to western, from bakery goods to ice cream. Airport officials have promised that people who buy products at the airport will see the same prices as in Central Beijing.

In addition to food and beverage businesses, there will be a 12,600-square-meter domestic retail area, a 10,600-square-meter duty-free-store area and a nearly 7,000-square-meter convenience-service area, which includes banks, business centres, Internet services and more. At 45,200 square meters, the commercial area will be twice the size of Beijing’s Lufthansa Shopping Centres.

To get from Terminal 3C to 3D and 3E, both domestic and international travellers will have to get boarding passes at T3C, but international passengers have to board from T3E. The two-kilometer trip between the two buildings is shortened to two minutes by an intra-terminal train.

To help passengers go to the right terminal, the airport provides free inter-terminal shuttles between T3 and Terminals 1 and 2 from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. The buses set out every ten minutes from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and every 20 minutes during other times.

It provides 66 aerobridges or jetways, further complemented with remote parking bays which bring the total of gates to 120 for the terminal alone. Terminal 3 also comes with an additional runway. It increases BCIA's total capacity up by 50 million passengers per year to a total of approximately 82 million.

After slots were given to Federal Express, Continental Airlines began non-stop flights between Newark and Beijing on June 15, 2005. On September 25, 2007, American Airlines and US Airways were awarded non-stop flights to Beijing from Chicago-O'Hare and Philadelphia, respectively, with the American Airlines' Chicago-O'Hare flight to begin on April 4, 2010, and the US Airways' Philadelphia flight to begin sometime in the Spring of 2010. This became US Airways' first destination in Asia. Both of these airlines will operate from the new Terminal 3 as they are part of Star Alliance (US Airways) and oneworld (American Airlines).

The airport has three terminals. Terminal 1 is currently housing Hainan Airlines and its subsidiaries (while the international routes; Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau flights operate from Terminal 2), Terminal 2 serves China Southern Airlines, China Eastern Airlines, SkyTeam members and other domestic and international flights. Terminal 3, the newest terminal at Beijing Airport, serves Air China, Star Alliance and Oneworld members, and some other domestic and international flights which do not operate from Terminals 1 and 2.

According to the Forbes magazine, the airport has been voted the second-worst in 2007 in terms of punctuality. However, airport general manager Dong Zhiyi said official statistics showed that 86.28 per cent of its take-offs were on schedule, much higher than Forbes's reported 33 per cent. These figures would substantially lift it in the Forbes ratings, far above Europe's worst airport, Charles de Gaulle in Paris, which had only 50 percent of departures leaving on time. In addition, 84.88% of PEK's flights from the June to August period took off or landed on time, despite heavy periods of lightning and rain.

In 2008, out of the world's 200 busiest airports, Beijing was the worst airport in terms of departure punctuality. Only 47.86% of departures were on time. Of Beijing's late departures, 45% were delayed by 30 minutes or more, according to a sampling of the airport's flights.

The major long-haul international destinations from Beijing are Frankfurt, London-Heathrow, Los Angeles, New York, Paris-CDG, San Francisco and Vancouver. Other destinations becoming increased include Chicago, Dubai, Sydney, Toronto, Tokyo and Washington.

The airport is accessible by four express tollways. Two of these run directly from northeastern Beijing to the airport. The other two connect to the airport from nearby highways. .

In addition to the expressways, there is a tree-lined, two-lane road that runs just south of the Airport Expressway. This Old Airport Road was the primary access route to the airport prior to the expressway's opening and remains the only untolled road to the airport.

Beijing Capital International Airport is served by the Airport Express Line of the Beijing Subway. The 28.1 km line runs from Terminal 3 to Terminal 2 and then to the city with stops at Sanyuanqiao and Dongzhimen. It was opened on July 19, 2008, in time for the 2008 Olympics. A one-way ticket costs Y25 and a trip takes 16-20 minutes.

The airport also offers six different shuttle bus routes to and from various points in Beijing, including Xidan, Fangzhuang, the Beijing Railway Station, Zhongguancun and the Nanyuan Airport. One way tickets cost Y16. For route map and schedules, see . In addition, the airport also offers bus service to and from Tianjin (Y80) and Qinhuangdao (Y126). For service schedules, see .

Taxi service from the airport to Beijing can cost from Y100 to 200 depending on distance.. Passengers are responsible for any tolls incurred.

Air China, China Eastern and China Southern have cut capacity on the Beijing-Shanghai routes. This is because of overcrowding and to increase safety. The CAAC will also ban any start-up airlines until 2010 because of overcapacity and major constraints. However, the opening of the third runway has increased the number of movements to approximately 620,000. However, during the Olympics, it will cut its movements to 1350 a day, to prevent airlines being stuck on the tarmac for periods of time.

The airport is expected to handle 64 million passengers in 2008, due to the high demand from the Olympics, potentially making it the top 5 airports in terms of passenger traffic. The capacity of the airport will be an estimated 82 million, up from the current 35.5 million before the opening of Terminal 3.

International (Flights to Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macau are included) Departure Hall Terminal 2.

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Beijing National Aquatics Center

The Beijing National Aquatics Center while under construction

The Beijing National Aquatics Center (simplified Chinese: 北京国家游泳中心; traditional Chinese: 北京國家游泳中心), also known as the National Aquatics Center (国家游泳中心), better known as the Water Cube (水立方), is an aquatics center that was built alongside Beijing National Stadium in the Olympic Green for the swimming competitions of the 2008 Summer Olympics. Despite its nickname, the building is a cuboid (rectangular box), not a cube.

Ground was broken on December 24, 2003, and the Center was completed and handed over for use on January 28, 2008.

Swimmers at the Water Cube broke 25 world records during the 2008 Olympics.

In July 2003, the Water Cube design was chosen from 10 proposals in an international architectural competition for the aquatic center project. The Water Cube was designed and built by a consortium made up of PTW Architects (an Australian architecture firm), Arup international engineering group, CSCEC (China State Construction Engineering Corporation), and CCDI (China Construction Design International) of Shanghai. The Water Cube's design was initiated by a team effort: the Chinese partners felt a square was more symbolic to Chinese culture and its relationship to the Bird's Nest stadium, while the Sydney based partners came up with the idea of covering the 'cube' with bubbles, symbolising water.

Comprising a steel space frame, it is the largest ETFE clad structure in the world with over 100,000 m² of ETFE pillows that are only 0.2 mm (1/125 of an inch) in total thickness. The ETFE cladding allows more light and heat penetration than traditional glass, resulting in a 30% decrease in energy costs.

The outer wall is based on the Weaire-Phelan structure, a structure devised from the natural formation of bubbles in soap foam. The complex Weaire-Phelan pattern was developed by slicing through bubbles in soap foam, resulting in more irregular, organic patterns than foam bubble structures proposed earlier by the scientist Kelvin. Using the Weaire-Phelan geometry, the Water Cube's exterior cladding is made of 4,000 ETFE bubbles, some as large as 9.14 meters (30 feet) across, with seven different sizes for the roof and 15 for the walls.

The structure had a capacity of 17,000 during the games that is being reduced to 6,000. It also has a total land surface of 65,000 square meters and will cover a total of 32,000 square metres (7.9 acres). Although called the Water Cube, the aquatic center is really a rectangular box (cuboid)- 178 meters (584 feet) square and 31 meters (102 feet) high.

The Aquatics Center hosted the Swimming, Diving and Synchronized Swimming events during the Olympics. Water Polo was originally planned to be hosted in the venue but was moved to the Ying Tung Natatorium.

Many people believe Water Cube to be the fastest Olympic pool in the world. It is 1 meter deeper than most Olympic pools. Up to a certain limit, beyond which swimmers will lose their sense of vision, deeper pools allow the waves to dissipate down to the bottom, leading to less water disturbance to the swimmers. The pool also has perforated gutters on both sides to absorb the waves.

With the popularity of the newly introduced faster Speedo LZR Racer swim suit, the Aquatics Center saw 25 world records broken in the Beijing Olympics.

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Beijing National Stadium

The Beijing National Stadium at night during the Summer Olympics

Beijing National Stadium (simplified Chinese: 北京国家体育场; traditional Chinese: 北京國家體育場; pinyin: Běijīng Guójiā Tǐyùchǎng), also known as the National Stadium (国家体育场), or colloquially as the "Bird's Nest" (鸟巢), is a stadium in Beijing, China. The stadium was designed for use throughout the 2008 Summer Olympics and Paralympics.

Located in the Olympic Green, the US$423 million stadium is the world's largest steel structure. The design was awarded to a submission from the Swiss architecture firm Herzog & de Meuron in April 2003, after a bidding process that included 13 final submissions. The design, which originated from the study of Chinese ceramics, implemented steel beams in order to hide supports for the retractable roof; giving the stadium the appearance of a "Bird's nest". Ai Weiwei, the artistic consultant, played a critical role in pushing the design to have unique Chinese characteristics . Ironically, the retractable roof was later removed from the design after inspiring the stadium's most recognizable aspect. Ground was broken in December 2003 and the stadium officially opened in June 2008. A shopping mall and a hotel are planned to be constructed to increase use of the stadium, which has had trouble attracting events, football and otherwise, after the Olympics.

In 2001, after Beijing had been awarded the right to host the 2008 Summer Olympics, the city held a bidding process to select the best arena design. Multiple requirements including the ability for post-Olympics use, a retractable roof, and low maintenance costs, were required of each design. The entry list was narrowed to thirteen final designs. Of the final thirteen, Li Xinggang of China Architecture Design and Research Group (CADG), said after he placed the model of the "nest" proposal at the exhibition hall and saw the rival entries he thought to himself, "We will win this." The model was approved by as the top design by a professional panel; however, it was later exhibited for the public. Once again, it was selected as the top design. The "nest scheme" design became official in April 2003. At $423 million, the stadium was built for one-tenth the cost that it would have cost to be built in the West.

Beijing National Stadium was a joint venture among architects Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron of Herzog & de Meuron, project architect Stefan Marbach, artist Ai Weiwei, and CADG which was lead by chief architect Li Xinggang. During their first meeting in 2003, at Basel, the group decided to do something unlike Herzog and de Meuron had traditionally designed. "China wanted to have something new for this very important stadium," Li stated. In an effort to design a stadium that was "porous" while also being "a collective building, a public vessel", the team studied Chinese ceramics. This line of thought brought the team to the "nest scheme". The stadium consists of two independent structures, standing 50 feet apart: a red concrete seating bowl and the outer steel frame around it.

Ground was broken, at the Olympic Green, for Beijing National Stadium on 24 December 2003. At its height, 17,000 construction workers worked on the stadium. In January 2008, The Times reported that 10 workers had died throughout construction; despite denial from the Chinese government. However, in a story the following week, Reuters, with the support of the Chinese government, reported that only two workers had died. All 110,000 tons of steel were made in China, making the stadium the largest steel structure in the world. On 14 May 2008, the grass field of 7,811 square meters was laid in 24 hours. Beijing National Stadium officially opened at a ceremony on 28 June 2008.

The eastern and western stands of Beijing National Stadium are higher than northern and southern stands, in order to improve sightlines. A 24-hour per day rainwater collector is located near the stadium; after water is purified, it is used throughout and around the stadium. Pipes placed under the playing surface gather heat in the winter to warm the stadium and coldness in the summer to cool the stadium. The stadium's design originally called for a capacity of 100,000 people; however 9,000 were removed during a simplification of the design. The new total of 91,000 would be shaved further when 11,000 temporary seats were removed after the 2008 Olympics; bringing the stadium's capacity to 80,000. The farthest seat is 460 feet (140 metres) from center field. Temperature and airflow of every surface were optimized to increase ventilation.

The stadium has not found significant use since the Olympics. As of February 2009, only two events are scheduled, both on 8 August 2009, the one year anniversary of the stadium's opening. One is a performance of the opera Turandot. The other is the 2009 Supercoppa Italiana (Italian Super Cup) final, the traditional curtain raiser to the Italian soccer league season. The Beijing Guo’an soccer club was scheduled to play at the stadium, but later backed out of their agreement, citing the embarrassment of using an 80,000+ seat venue for games the routinely draw only slightly more than 10,000.

In January 2009, the venue's owners announced the stadium would be turned into a shopping and entertainment complex in three to five years. The venue costs approximately $9 million to maintain per year. Due to a lack of use, paint is already peeling in some areas; plans call for the $450 million stadium to anchor a complex of shops and entertainment outlets in three to five years is being developed by operator Citic Group. The company will also continue to develop tourism as a major draw for the stadium, while seeking sports and entertainment events.

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Source : Wikipedia