Beijing Olympics: The Buildings

With the National Stadium in Beijing, Herzog & de Meuron have created an icon that reaches beyond the Olympics

National Stadium lies beyond Beijing's Fourth Ring Road, at the northern end of the imperial axis that cuts through Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City. But it can be seen almost everywhere in the capital. Billboards, magazines, television ads, soda cans, clothes, hats, and ashtrays bear the likeness of Herzog & de Meuron's woven-steel building, reflecting the propaganda, marketeering, and pure fascination that surround the city's Olympic centerpiece. In a place where architectural feats tend to attract puzzlement, if not ridicule (locals use "The Egg" with a derisive tone when referring to Paul Andreu's National Performing Arts Center), the $423 million stadium has become a rare architectural celebrity. Everyone calls it the "Bird's Nest," which in China means it is something much prized, an expensive delicacy eaten on special occasions.

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