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Architectural tragedy.

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Feb. 10th, 2009 | 01:59 am
mood: shockedshocked
music: Now I really need to go to bed.

Updated throughout the day, and really quite scary.

The Beijing TVCC-Mandarin Oriental complex, after the fire

Yeah, I should be sleeping but I'm too warm to do so currently. Boo. So I thought I'd write about the Beijing hotel fire, which I was able to follow sort of live today through this guy's Twitter account. It's quite coincidental how I discovered him tweeting about it: on our work Twitter, we followed a bunch of social media folks in China in an attempt to get the word out about our grant competition accepting Chinese applications this year (with the same strategy for India, Netherlands, South Africa, India, etc.), and we are still following him (and the other folks) a few months after the competition deadline. I've also gotten unintended coverage of the Mumbai bombings through Twitterers that were in the city at the time, and I'm really starting to see the power of this tool. That's an entry for my work blog that I've been meaning to write for a while; I'll link to it whenever I actually do.

Back to the fire. This was going to be quite a feat for a building. According to the NYT in 2007: "And when its ribbon is cut next year, it will be home to one of the most spectacular hotels around: a 241-room Mandarin Oriental that looks like no other. With restaurants and a bar suspended above, its modular curtain of randomly staggered rooms will hypnotically shift in and out of a head-spinning, 21-story atrium, while a circular ballroom, ringed by water, will glimmer down below." Although I have no idea what they're saying, you can see some pretty terrifying video of the fire in this news report, and it's pretty obvious that there won't be a hotel here anytime soon. The speculation that this will be seen as a bad omen for the new year is super interesting, and I want to think through that a bit more sometime.

I will say, though, that at least the building next door, the CCTV HQ, is apparently undamaged. I really want to go to Beijing when I have the funds because their urban experience (and that of some other Chinese cities) seems super unique, and of course this building is a part of that interest. Not that I could even go inside, but that's not even the point. You can see how the buildings were supposed to look together here.

Photo courtesy of Flickr user Thomas Stellmach, reproduced under a Creative Commons license.

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