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USGNN Original StoryLucky Number 8: Olympic Games Open in Beijing, Surrounded by Fascinating Glass Architecture

Millions of people will turn their televisions on tonight to watch the opening ceremonies for the summer Olympic games in Beijing. Beijing, like so many past Olympic host cities before, has been busy preparing for the tremendous number of people-Olympians, volunteers, visitors, journalists and so many others--traveling to take in the summer games.

The new National Indoor Stadium features a 19,000-square-meter glass curtainwall, with laminated, low-E glass supplied by Shanghai Yaohua Pilkington Glass Co. Ltd. Photo courtesy of BOCOG.

Since Beijing won the bid to host the 2008 Summer Games, the city has gone through a massive transformation. Thirty venues and 44 training centers were constructed; new subway lines and express bus routes have been added; polluting factories were removed; and green spaces for the public have been increased. And that's not all--some of these construction projects also feature intriguing glazing.

Take, for instance, the National Indoor Stadium. Built specifically for the games, the stadium features a 19,000-square-meter glass curtainwall. Laminated, low-E glass supplied by Shanghai Yaohua Pilkington Glass Co. Ltd. forms, in parts, the point-support curtainwall. Shenzhen Sanxin Special Glass Technology Co. Ltd. installed the glass. Behind the curtainwall lies a solar photovoltaic system that uses 1,124 solar panels, each measuring 120 by 50 cm. The solar panels are able to produce 100 kilowatts of energy per day. Able to seat 18,000 people, the stadium was designed to resemble an unfurled traditional Chinese folding fan. The Chinese say that a folding fan holds a deep level of cultural detail.

Also new to Beijing's appearance is the China Central Television (CCTV) building, which has been described as looking like "two drunken high-rise towers leaning over and holding each other up at the shoulders." Designed by Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and German architect Ole Scheeren, the tower features 49 stories and was made with 10,000+ tons of steel. In addition, huge glass panels were built into the floor of the cantilevered cross section of the building.

Another recent structure that will likely become an icon of this year's games is the egg-shaped National Center for the Performing Arts (NCPA) (click here to read more). Described as a "shimmering icon of modern architecture," the center is made of titanium and glass is shaped like a half-sphere.

The Olympic games are certainly no stranger to glass. Many past host cities and venues have also seen their sharing of unique construction. Many in the glass industry will remember the 2002 winter games in Salt Lake City and the Olympic cauldron, which held the flame during the games, was constructed of the FireLite product from Technical Glass Products. Interlayers were provided by Solutia Inc. and fabricated by Oldcastle Glass.

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