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Unformatted text preview: Beijing opens massive airport terminal BEIJING -- I t's a huge building, much bigger than the Pentagon and a whole lot less clunky. I t's expected to handle more passengers than any other air terminal in the world. I t was built fast. Beijing's new international air terminal, which opened today in time for the Summer Olympics surge, attracts and embodies superlatives. I t also embodies the new China, a country racing headlong into the future fueled by an economy on fire.The airy glass-and-steel structure, even at two miles long and half a mile wide, raced from design to takeoff in four years. Most airport projects take a decade or more to complete and usually involve lengthy reviews, detailed assessments, planning committees, public hearings and environmental impact statements. As a band played "Auld Lang Syne," and officials cut red ribbons and gave speeches, passengers delivered their verdict this morning. "I think it's beautiful and brilliant and I'm very proud for China," said Ou Min, a 26-year-old banker, booked on one of the terminal's first departing f lights to London. "And the design, the sun, the space, it really makes you feel free," she added. Security guards smiled and cheerful staffers directed customers, in a country where service is not always second nature. For many countries increasingly worried about how competitive and fast-moving China is, this $2.8-billion project provides one more reason to fret. China's authoritarian system can certainly move. At its peak, the construction site had 50,000 workers toiling around the clock. Elsewhere across China, skyscrapers sprout, highways unfurl and dams appear at breakneck speed, cutting through neighborhoods and displacing millions of people in the process. This terminal is among about $40 billion worth of projects being built in Beijing alone in advance of the Games, which start Aug. 8. "Most Western politicians wouldn't admit agreeing to that system, but they're very jealous," said Rory McGowan, Beijing- based director of global engineering firm Ove Arup & Partners, which worked on the project. The Chinese "can react to decisions four or five times faster than we can [in the West] because China runs the way it does." China has a long history of awing visitors with structures that evoke size and power, epitomized by the Forbidden City. The new Terminal 3 at Beijing Capital International Airport is a modern counterpart, the gateway to a new China. "This is the front door of China," said Brian Timmoney, Beijing-based partner with London architect Norman Foster. Designed by Foster and the Beijing Architectural Design & Research Institute, the terminal measures about 10.6 million square feet. By comparison, the Pentagon, often described as the largest office building in the world, is 6.5 million square feet....
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- Spring '08
- Greenhouse gas, Green building