The largest building in the world opens ahead of schedule and in time for the 2008 Olympics

Terminal 3 at Beijing Capital International Airport, the world's largest building, has opened after four years of design and construction work.

Completed ahead of schedule for the 2008 Olympics, it is designed to be the gateway to Beijing for participating athletes. Its aerodynamic roof and dragon-like form celebrate the flight.

The red, orange and yellow interior palatte evokes traditional Chinese colours.

Located between the existing eastern runway and the future third runway, Terminal 3 and the Ground Transportation Centre enclose a floor area of about 1.3 million square metres, mostly under one roof.

The first building to break the one million square meter barrier, it will accommodate an estimated 50 million passengers a year by 2020.

Norman Foster said:"This new terminal is the largest and most advanced airport building in the world – a celebration of the thrill and poetry of flight.

"A gateway to Beijing, it communicates a unique sense of place, its dragon-like form evoking traditional Chinese colours and symbols."

Mouzhan Majidi, chief executive of Foster + Partners and lead achitect for the project and said: "The new terminal at Beijing Capital has been designed, built and commissioned, within a mere four year period at a scale and quality which is awesome.

"It is a true gateway to the 2008 Olympics – and we are delighted that it has opened in good time for this world event."