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Architecture & Design

Architecture Fab! – Beijing National Center for the Performing Arts

Beijing, National Center for the Performing Arts

Formal folks call it The National Grand Theater, or The National Center for the Performing Arts, but folks around the way, simply call it the egg.

Designed by well-known French architect Paul Andreu, this architecturally gorgeous building is “surrounded by a man-made lake. A hallway beneath the lake leads into the building.” (1)

“The exterior Yin-Yang-inspired shell in the shape of a half ellipsoid is covered by titanium panels and accentuated in the middle by a curtain of glass that opens gradually from top to bottom.” (2)

“The $400 million complex, a concert hall, opera house and theater under one space age span, is designed to be the center of Chinese culture, just as Tiananmen Square next door was designated this country’s political center.” (3)


Who knows if there were ulterior motives for complaints from Chinese architects, but “a few years ago a group of Chinese architects organized a vocal petition campaign to protest the design. They said it blended poorly with the Stalinist Great Hall of the People next door and high vermilion walls of the imperial Forbidden City across the street. … Some [other] critics of the design said that the complex’s entryway, a subterranean glass-enclosed corridor extending 250 feet under the artificial lake, posed safety risks in the event of structural problems or a terrorist attack. … Criticism has faded somewhat since the complex began a soft opening in October and invited guests had their first glimpses of the elaborate interior.” (3)


Interior shot – mahoghany wood paneled walls, marble floors

“The dome’s inside is paneled with long spans of Brazilian mahogany, giving the expanse an unexpectedly warm feel. The floors are paved with soft white, yellow and gray marble from 22 Chinese provinces, selected so that their grains form continuous lines.The walls of the theater, the smallest of the performance spaces, are covered in thick padded silk, divided in strips of red, purple and tangerine. The ceiling of the cool-white concert hall consists of undulating waves of acoustic panels that resemble abstract art.” (3)


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