The Boom is Over

[Image: By David Gray for Reuters, via The New York Times].

Amongst many, many signs that the building boom has come to an end, from gridlocks of cars abandoned at the Dubai airport by fleeing workers to massive holes in the urban surface of Chicago, to entire architectural firms going out of business, to delayed towers and theme parks on pause, none seem quite as explicitly apocalyptic as the sight of OMA's CCTV complex – that is, the part of it known as TVCC, containing a luxury hotel – roaring with flames.

[Image: By Andy Wong for the Associated Press, via The New York Times].

The boom ended long ago, but its icon are now on fire.

(Note some updates on this story in the comments thread, below).

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Blogger Michael said...

yet while the building burns, Beijing ignites with fireworks:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ahTNjmY7EpA

February 09, 2009 11:27 AM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Those fireworks actually caused the fire!

Meanwhile, some of these images look like a deleted scene from Cloverfield.

February 09, 2009 11:28 AM  
Blogger Dan said...

Man that's depressing. This was one of my favorite buildings

February 09, 2009 1:05 PM  
Anonymous Kazys Varnelis said...

Well said, Geoff. In other news, the New York Times is selling back its 19 floors of the Foster Tower. They have the right to buy them back and will continue to occupy them, but after today the end is near (again) for the iconic skyscraper.

February 09, 2009 1:12 PM  
Blogger Markasaurus said...

It is shocking that a modern skyscraper would burn like this, it appears it have been filled with straw and gasoline! The rapid pace of development and relaxed building codes in China come with a price.

February 09, 2009 1:26 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

More news about the fire on Building Design and much more in-depth coverage at Architect's Newspaper. AN quotes a NYT podcast: "I think it’s very symbolic for Beijingers as an architectural pair. And then the other kind of layer that is the fact that it’s happened on the last day of the New Year. The fire’s still burning, and it’s just about midnight here, so ringing in the new year with this kind of disaster is very inauspicious, at least in the view of many Chinese. A lot of people in the crowd couldn’t help note that and this was just not a good omen for the new year."

Kazys, that's unbelievable about the NYT, by the way!

February 09, 2009 1:29 PM  
Anonymous Greg J. Smith said...

Burn baby burn!

As per Kazys's reference on twitter this morning, it might be worth taking a glance at this classic archi-inferno right now.

February 09, 2009 1:48 PM  
Blogger cWitt said...

Well this seems very ominous... But from the video on BD, it looks as though it is not actually the main tower burning, but something lower to the ground that is part of the CCTV complex.

February 09, 2009 2:18 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

In this image, it is the building on the left that is burning.

February 09, 2009 2:38 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

And Christopher Hawthorne has some interesting thoughts on this over at the L.A. Times blog.

February 09, 2009 3:17 PM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

And now Aric Chen, over at Architect's Newspaper, chimes in from on the scene in Beijing: "Maybe it’s our cynicism–or boredom–that makes us (or some of us, at least) want to aestheticize such things, but the scene was eerily beautiful. You wonder what Rem’s take on this would have been had he been there, especially if it wasn’t his building.”

February 09, 2009 3:36 PM  
Blogger Alexander Trevi said...

Here's a smallish pic of a half-built skyscraper in Guangdong, China's manufacturing powerhouse province, burning last month.

February 09, 2009 3:42 PM  
Blogger Alexander Trevi said...

Or a skyscraper half-built with flames?

February 09, 2009 3:44 PM  
Blogger kipple said...

I'd argue that it's not just an "inauspicious" (!) sign for the economic boom. What about the symbolism of the destruction of a restrictive state's media mouthpiece? Sure it's not the CCTV center itself which burned, but...

February 09, 2009 4:13 PM  
Anonymous Kazys Varnelis said...

On the twitter feed #cctvfire people are saying that the news of the fire is being censored in China. Doesn't anybody ask themselves who they're working for or what they're doing before they do these things?

I've been thinking of teaching a studio on evil (as in evil clients) just to get down to the bottom of such matters. Maybe I'll move it up in the rotation.

February 09, 2009 5:35 PM  
Blogger muthacourage said...

Tragedy strikes the neo nietzschean! Only the most sentimental combustible could bring down the most nihilistic architect. Has cynicism met its match?

February 09, 2009 11:12 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We're still all in shock here in Beijing. A burning tower jars the psyche in ways you cannot rationalize. There's the Tarot card XVI, there's World Trade Center, there's Babel. But I'll be all Greek about it and say it in a word: HUBRIS. It's time for China to renew its Mandate of Heaven.

February 09, 2009 11:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A fierce fire consumed all 44 floors of a skyscraper in Beijing today, shooting 30 foot flames into the air, but unlike the similarly-sized 47-story WTC 7, which suffered limited fires across just eight floors, the building in China did not collapse.

“The fire was burning from the ground floor to the top floor of the large building, the flames reflecting in the glass facade of the main CCTV tower next to the hotel and cultural center,” reports the New York Times.

“The 241-room Mandarin Oriental hotel in the building was due to open this year. Flames were spotted around 7:45 p.m. and within 20 minutes the fire had spread throughout the building, dominating that part of the city.”

“Hundreds of firefighting vehicles and police blocked off all approaches to the building - which was also set to house a luxury hotel due to be opened in 2009 - with flames appearing to leap 20 to 30 feet into the air,” adds The London Times.

Compare images of WTC 7 with those of the skyscraper fire in Beijing. Note that the Beijing skyscraper appears to be leaning due to the unorthodox design of the building - it did not suffer any kind of collapse.


Beijing skyscraper.


WTC 7


Beijing skyscraper.


WTC 7


Beijing skyscraper.


WTC 7

To any sane and rational observer, which of these buildings would have been the most likely to collapse? And yet it was WTC 7 which collapsed within 7 seconds into its own footprint on 9/11. The Beijing skyscraper, though gutted by fire damage, remains standing.

How do the debunkers explain away this one? How come NIST’s newly invented “phenomenon” of “thermal expansion” didn’t put paid to the skyscraper in Beijing? Does fire have different properties in China compared to the U.S.? Does it behave in different ways depending on what country it’s in?

Remember that WTC 7 was structurally reinforced and suffered limited fires across just 8 floors.

The core of NIST’s explanation, that an “extraordinary event” called “thermal expansion” was to blame for the sudden total collapse of WTC 7 is of course on the face of it a fraud when one considers the innumerable number of buildings that have suffered roaring fires across the majority of their floors and remained standing, whereas WTC 7 suffered limited fire damage across a handful of floors.

The Beijing skyscraper fire provides yet more comparable evidence to illustrate the monolithic hoax that fire damage alone can cause buildings to collapse implosion style, adding more weight to the argument that both WTC 7 and the twin towers were destroyed by explosives that were seen and heard by dozens of eyewitnesses who were at ground zero.

Take another example - the Windsor building in Madrid, a 32 story skyscraper which was a raging inferno for no less than 24 hours before fire crews were able to put out the flames. Despite the building being constructed of columns a fraction as thick as those used in the WTC twin towers, as well as a total lack of fireproofing, the building’s top section only partially collapsed while the integrity of the whole structure remained firmly intact.



Compare these images of the Windsor building fire to those of WTC 7 and the twin towers.



The skyscraper fire in Beijing offers another stark and bold reminder that when one eliminates the dodgy, agenda-driven, and incomprehensible delusions of NIST, one fact remains abundantly clear;

Office fires - even the flame shooting towering inferno variety - cannot cause modern buildings to implode in on themselves and collapse. Only deliberately placed explosives can achieve this end. The Windsor fire, the Beijing skyscraper fire and many more yet to come painfully underscore the awful truth that the only way WTC 7 and the twin towers could have collapsed in the manner that they did was by means of controlled demolition.

February 10, 2009 5:19 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

it seems to burn like straw, and OMA has become a - let's say - 'straw firm' anyways. even from this perspective quite a symbolic event.

February 10, 2009 7:43 AM  
Blogger Geoff Manaugh said...

Bert de Muynck, from MovingCities, has posted on Abitare about the fires - including this: "At the same I can only think about the 'fighting the flames' spectacle Rem Koolhaas described in Delirious New York. 'Fighting the Flames' was a daily event on New York’s Coney Island and consisted of burning the same city block over and over again. 'The block as actor.' Rem Koolhaas wrote, 'The entire spectacle defines the dark side of Metropolis as an astronomical increase in the potential for disaster only just exceeded by an equally astronomical increase in the ability to avert it. Manhattan is the outcome of that perpetual neck-and-neck race.' Without any question CCTV has defined the dark spectacle of the Metropolis. It was his little strange brother who didn’t posses the ability to avert the disaster and paid the price for Beijing's neck-and-neck race with architecture."

February 10, 2009 11:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Symbolic? Maybe. Apocalyptic? I don't think so. Sometimes a fire is just a fire.

February 10, 2009 6:29 PM  
Anonymous Pedro Gadanho said...

I think it is time to say Vive la crise!

February 12, 2009 1:09 PM  
Anonymous Pedro Gadanho said...

I think it is time to say Vive la Crise!

February 12, 2009 1:18 PM  

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