More than just a stadium, the Bird’s Nest will be a permanent attraction, says Mark Whitby
That so much has been made of the Olympics over the past 40 years has had more to do with national virility, politics and the media than their positive impact on the host countries. As mechanisms for regeneration the Olympics are expensive and unreliable, with as many failures as successes.
Generally the venues struggle to find an afterlife, so it is tempting to understate their importance. However, Herzog & de Meron’s stadium in Beijing is exceptional. The elaborate, wonderfully indulgent structure has become an icon and a symbol of the confidence of the Chinese people.
I believe its architectural style will have its place alongside art nouveau and the modern movement. Long after the Games are over, it will be a tourist destination, a must for any world tour and a monument to the metamorphosis of a nation. As such, any doubts about its sustainable credentials are a side show.
One wishes China well for the Games, as it has certainly put its heart into them. While overwhelming commercialism will certainly be a feature of the event and the question of drugs will undoubtedly linger over some athletes, the wish is that the event should be apolitical and free from the violence that marred Mexico and Munich when they were the hosts.
The Olympics are evidence of a world that can live in harmony and their success will bode well for the tasks ahead, most particularly, the need to deliver sustainability in the future.
Mark Whitby is chairman of Ramboll Whitbybird