Not a little smolder on the upper floors, but a real skyscraper fire. Pictures from the night before.....
Still standing the next day....
Beijing's newest skyscraper survives blaze
The Guardian, Wednesday 11 February 2009
Fire damage is seen on the side of the Mandarin Oriental Hotel, the sister building of the Chinese Central Television's (CCTV) headquarters in Beijing. Photograph: China Photos/Getty Images
It was China's biggest ever firecracker. Clad in glistening titanium zinc alloy, Beijing's 159-metre (522ft) Television Cultural Centre tower (TVCC) shot up in flames on Monday night, ignited by ambitious fireworks during new year celebrations that could barely hold a candle to the all too brilliant architectural conflagration that followed.
At least one life, that of Zhang Jianyong, a political instructor of the Beijing fire brigade, was lost, and an undisclosed number of people were injured, but for all the ferocity of the fire that reached the top of the brand new cultural centre and hotel complex, the structure of the building looked to be remarkably unscathed.
"As yet, we can't be sure what's happened to the building," said Cecil Balmond, vice-chairman of the global engineering giant Arup, and TVCC's structural engineer. "I need to get back to you once I've flown over and taken a look for myself. I'll be on a plane as soon as possible."
The structure of the TVCC tower - like that of its dominant sibling, the spectacular 238-metre China Central Television (CCTV) tower to the south in Beijing's fast developing central business district - is radical in design and immensely strong. Both buildings are built to withstand major earthquakes while using far less steel than conventional skyscrapers. It is this radical structure that gives the towers their irregular, and challenging, look, and at the same time makes them immensely strong and stable. Fireproof, too? "We can only hope so," said Balmond.
The TVCC tower was due to open in May. A cultural centre owned by CCTV, its 31 floors house a hangar-like, 1,500-seat TV studio for live events and spectaculars, a giant ballroom, cinemas and exhibition galleries crowned by a 241-room, five-star Mandarin Oriental hotel. The design is by Rem Koolhaas of Rotterdam-based architects OMA with Balmond, whose office is in London. The German project architect, working on site, is Ole Scheeren.
Known locally as either the Boot or the Termite's Nest because of its distinctive profile, and with many local detractors, the TVCC tower is overshadowed by the sheer might and structural ingenuity of the CCTV tower. Designed by the same team, and due to open this summer, CCTV is a breathtaking building that will be the star architectural attraction among the 300 skyscrapers planned for this quarter of Beijing.
Resembling some colossal, three-dimensional Chinese character, the slightly terrifying, sci-fi-looking building will be home to every aspect of China's state-run broadcasting company. Instead of conventional floors and lift-shafts, its ground-breaking interior forms one enormous, continual loop from its lobby to roofline public restaurant that is projected into space at one vertiginous corner.
Beijing's TV towers are the two most daring, and daunting, new buildings in the city. They have been hugely expensive and, secreted behind lofty security walls, have been seven years in the making.
For Koolhaas, a Jakarta-born Dutch journalist and film-maker-turned-world-famous architect, the project has always tasted sweet and sour. For all the extraordinary openness of the CCTV and TVCC towers in terms of structure and internal planning, and the fact that the public will be made welcome in both buildings, China's state TV company is rigorously censored and highly controlling. Koolhaas's detractors - mostly those who dislike flamboyant "iconic" architecture - have accused the architect of selling out to an authoritarian regime.
Koolhaas was keeping quiet yesterday. A man of beguiling and often inscrutable intelligence, he is quite aware that impressive architecture has a habit of outlasting even the most determined political set-up. Its finery might have been scorched away, and cries of "hubris" have risen with the smoke, yet the TVCC tower looks to have survived its first, and fiery, brush with Chinese fate.
Here is the aftermath of the hotel fire in Madrid, Spain in 2005 where the building was engulfed in fire but still stood....
And Tower 7 fell because it was damaged from a hit by the falling Twin Towers.... yet WTC 3, 4, 5, and 6 got bashed and didn't crumble to rubble.
And the heavily damaged and raging fire WTC-7 that collapsed? ......
Darn conspiracy theorists. Why would anybody question the government stories as to why WTC-7 collapsed?
Maybe Richard Gage and other engineers only want attention? A collection of various news reports can be found HERE.