Sixty-nine Years of Reform and Persistence
The Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (BIAD) has contributed to urban development in the capital city, improved quality of life and promoted China’s architectural design industry since the founding of the People’s Republic of China in 1949.
From November 22 to December 8, 2018, an exhibition showcasing architectural works by the Beijing Institute of Architectural Design (BIAD) is being held in the National Museum of China in Beijing. The exhibition showcases how BIAD has contributed to urban development in the capital city, improved quality of life and promoted China's architectural design industry. BIAD, the first architectural design institute established after the founding of the People's Republic of China (PRC) in 1949 and has become a leading architectural design firm in China. In September 1949, Li Gongxia, then deputy secretary- general of the Peiping Military Management Committee and later deputy secretary- general of the People's Government of Beijing Municipality, was tasked with creating the public- owned Yong Mao Building Company where he worked as general manager. On October 1, 1949, the first plenary session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) was held in Beijing. On the same day that the country celebrated the founding of the PRC, the predecessor of BIAD—THE Design Department of Yong Mao Building Company—was also established.
Created in order to construct the capital and BIAD has had nine different names throughout its history. However, it has always insisted on “using ingenuity and wisdom to make the city more orderly and elegant, carrying forward the cultural heritage of the Chinese nation through architecture and taking up the mission and responsibilities of a State- owned enterprise,” explained Xu Quansheng, secretary of the Party committee of China and president and general manager of BIAD.
A large-scale State-owned architectural design consultancy, BIAD has stayed true to its mission, gathered top talent from the industry and operated as a vanguard within the industry.
BIAD is responsible for eight of the top 10 major buildings constructed in China since the founding of the PRC, the Tiananmen Square buildings complex, buildings along the landmark Chang'an Avenue, various structures along the north-south Central Axis, venues for the Asian Games and Olympic Games, residential houses, public buildings and city landmarks. During its 25,000 days in operation, BIAD has completed more than 25,000 projects, over an area of more than 250 million square metres (sq.m).
Since the founding of the PRC and during 40 years of reform and opening- up, BIAD has adhered to the political position of “serving the capital and serving the central government.” It has created outstanding works of architecture for the country and the capital as a sociallyrecognised industry leader. BIAD is one of the top three architectural institutes nationwide, has consistently held the largest market share for high-end projects and leads its field in terms of awards. The institute also plays a major role in the planning and building of infrastructure in Beijing and across the country.
Since its establishment, BIAD has highly respected knowledge, talent and innovation. From the early days of the PRC'S founding, its designers directly reported to Chairman Mao Zedong (1893–1976) and Premier Zhou Enlai (1898–1976) on the construction of the Great Hall of the People. BIAD has an established culture of bringing together, cultivating and using high- end creative design talent. Its number one priority is development, its most important driving force is innovation and its key is talent. Over the past 69 years, BIAD has brought together many outstanding designers and currently employs one academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, 10 national engineering survey and design masters, 62 experts who enjoy special allowance of the State Council, 11 outstanding experts in Beijing, 40 researchers with doctoral degrees, 912 employees with master's degrees and 301 registered architects. Such a large amount of top talent gives BIAD a real competitive advantage in the industry.
BIAD has participated in and witnessed great changes in Beijing, a city where tradition and modernity coexist. The Daxing International Airport, ‘‘ Ice Ribbon” 2022 Winter Olympics venue and a series of other design works continue to make history in the hands of BIAD'S architects.
The New Airport
Beijing Daxing International Airport is a supersized airport that connects tradition and the future, China and the world. BIAD is the chief designer of this hub. It is located in the Beijing-tianjin-Hebei region.
“We have built a collaborative design platform to engage designers and different types of professionals in an ‘army mode' to complete all technical design work in an efficient, scientific and precise way,” explained Wang Yizhi, deputy director of the BIAD'S architectural no. 4 design branch. The design team achieved their goal of devising an airport that is “world-leading in terms of construction and a global benchmark for other airports.”
The Beijing Daxing International Airport is located at the junction of Yufa Town, Lixian Town and Langfang City's Guangyang District. It is approximately 46 kilometres (km) from Central Beijing, 81 km from Central Tianjin and 55 km from Xiong'an New Area. Its exterior resembles a phoenix preparing to take flight. The overall construction area covers around 1.4 million sq.m. Its terminal area is a giant circular shape with a diameter of 1,200 metres (m). It runs 940 m from north to south and 1,080 m from east to west.
According to Wang Yizhi, landmark buildings such as the “Water Cube,” “Bird's Nest” and Beijing Railway Station can be used to interpret the innovativeness and uniqueness of the Beijing Daxing International Airport. “The distance between supports in the Beijing New Airport's central area is 200 m; so the pillarless space could fit a ‘ Water Cube.'” In order to ensure the integrity of the roof and the central area's supporting structure as well as the integrity of the functional area, there is no seam on the 513-m-long and 411-m-wide concrete slab covering the airport terminal. Wang explained: “This is the largest single concrete slab in China. It's capable of supporting the ‘Bird's Nest.'”
In addition to its expressways, the new airport's huge underground rail transit network is truly a pioneering feat that can be used by passengers across the Beijing-tianjin-hebei region. There are five lines on the outer periphery of the airport, connecting Beijing and Bazhou, the airport express rail, the R4/S6 lines, the reserved line and the intercity rail between Langfang and Zhuozhou. In simpler terms, the east and west sides of the new airport connect to intercity and high-speed railways, whilst the middle three connect to airport lines and subways. The total width of the platforms for the five lines is about 270 m, which is a true feat of engineering equivalent to fitting the entire Beijing Railway Station into the terminal building.
One of the BIAD designers' goals from the very beginning was to create a more compact and efficient terminal. For the first time, the new Beijing airport has adopted a double- decked overpass to meet long-term needs. There are two check-in floors in the building, the baggage hall is spread over two floors and the landing-side function
area has four floors. Wang commented: “Compared to the existing airport, the distances between each corridor have been shortened. Plus, although there are 82 gates in the terminal, it will take passengers less than eight minutes to walk from the centre of the terminal to any of the boarding gates.” Once passengers get off the high-speed rail, there is an escalator leading directly into the terminal. Such a convenient transfer design is also first in the country.
It takes immense effort to achieve these world-class innovations. The separation of the central zone and antivibration technology are the two biggest challenges. A designer explained: “Highspeed trains will travel through the terminal building at 300 km/h. So, we'll use layer-separating seismic technology to alleviate the effect of vibration in the underground track on the operation of the terminal building. The entire terminal is built on solid ground, but propped up on 1,100 soft rubber mats, thus making the airport the largest earthquake-proof building in the world.”
Beneath the beautiful exterior is a roofing system designed using highly intensive, efficient and accurate 3D modelling techniques. The main grid of the roof has also been optimised using computer intelligence and technological innovation.
The T1 building at the north end of the Daxing International Airport is currently under construction. Upon completion, it will be able to handle the throughput of 45 million passengers annually at a rate of 12,600 passengers per hour at peak times, which is equivalent to the total of the Capital International Airport's T3. A satellite terminal will be added to the south side in the near future to increase the throughput to 72 million passengers annually and capacity demand to 19,500 passengers per hour at peak times by 2025, which is equivalent to the total capacity of the Capital Airport's T1, T2 and T3. A new terminal is planned in the long-run for the southern end of the terminal area to achieve the eventual target of serving 100 million passengers per year. People are eagerly awaiting the unveiling of the world's largest airport under construction—the Beijing Daxing International Airport.
With its successful bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics, Beijing will become the world's first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympics. BIAD has also become one of only a few architectural design agencies in the world to have designed venues for both Summer and Winter Games. For the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics, BIAD undertook the responsibility for designing and consulting on two new venues including the National Speed Skating Oval and renovating seven venues including the National Stadium. At present, BIAD is actively participating in the design and construction of the venues for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics.
The National Speed Skating Oval, featuring 22 “ice ribbons” wrapping around its facade, covers an area of 14,000 sq.m. Through a division of different ice surfaces, it can meet competition requirements for speed skating, short track skating, figure skating, curling, ice hockey and bandy. Nicknamed the “Ice Ribbon,” it is a new landmark for the Winter Olympics and derives its design concept from the combination of ice and speed. The ribbons that run from low to high along the curved exterior wall resemble the tracks of a speed skater travelling at high speed. The 22 “ice ribbons” also symbolise the 2022 Winter Olympics.
The “Ice Ribbon” features a saddleshaped roof. Zhao Weizhong, deputy director of BIAD'S architectural no. 2 design branch explained: “This roof is the largest-spanning orthogonal bi-directional single-layer saddle-shaped cable net roof in the world. It is approximately 200 m in length and about 130 m wide. Our team simulated thousands of different scenarios to achieve the optimal structure, and what's more, it only uses a quarter of the steel needed for a traditional steel roof.” A total of 3,360 pieces of glass will form the surface of the “ice ribbon.” These beautiful and elegant “ribbons” are an important part of the curtain wall's steel structure, provide shade and help reduce energy needs. Separate temperature control and waste heat utilisation features have also been incorporated and help embody a green, smart, sustainable venue.
BIAD has formulated uniform technical and design standards and requirements in strict accordance with the demands of the International Olympic Committee, the Organising Committee of the 2022 Olympic Winter Games and the municipal government. It aims to build venues according to a high standard and demonstrate the achievements of a Stateowned enterprise.
Designers explained: “The design and construction period for the project are very limited. We only had 10 months to create the design, so it really was a race against the clock.” The main structure of the “Ice Ribbon” project has now been constructed. The overall project will be completed by the end of 2019, and the venue will be ready for test competitions in 2020.
BIAD'S headquarters are located at 62 Nanlishi Lu in Xicheng District, Beijing, amidst golden ginkgo trees. It is easy to rub shoulders with some of the minds and masters behind many of Beijing's greatest works of engineering here.
The Zhungongfang Workshop, located in BIAD'S 2A2 Design Department, has a strong tradition of architectural art and artisanal spirit. The workbenches there are covered with tools such as planes, chisels, adzes and hacksaws. Xie Changqing, a fifth-generation inheritor of architectural modelmaking explained that few young people are willing to learn the craft nowadays and that he is having difficulty finding an apprentice. The index finger on his right hand has grown shorter after years working with tools—perhaps this is the price that craftsmen pay for carrying on this ancient traditional skill.
Traditional Chinese wooden architecture is an important part of Chinese culture and technology and plays an important role in the world of architecture. Dougong interlocking-brackets are one such important element used in traditional Chinese wooden structures.
BIAD has established a training and exchange platform to promote ancient Chinese woodworking, engage the public and carry on the craft.
“The Zhungongfang Workshop has been around for six years; its practical role can't be underestimated,” explained Director of the 2A2 Design Department Mi Junren. “Architects can feel the characteristics of the materials, the mechanics and vitality of the buildings. Their own systems of thinking will change, which will in turn affect their creation. Through this platform, architects can become inspired by ancient wisdom to think and innovate, explore and achieve.”
At present, the workshop is exploring “China's Lego”— dougong— a series of interlocking wooden brackets which can be assembled according to different levels of difficulty, creating structures as complicated as wholes palaces. Reporters were attracted by a set of newly developed “big fish dougong” brackets, which are not only liked by children, but also by adults who love architecture.
BIAD has always focused on the inheritance and innovation of traditional Chinese culture. This is both the company's goal and a responsibility it should bear as its employees are hugely confident in Chinese culture. When visiting Beijing Fun, a commercial complex in Dashilar, Qianmen designed by BIAD, one can experience the changes of the century-old street and enjoy an assortment of western and Chinese architectural styles along the bustling thoroughfare. The design of the complex further highlights BIAD'S continuation, innovation and integration of traditional Chinese culture.
Dashilar was once the busiest commercial street in Beijing, but many of its buildings had to be rebuilt following a serious fire in 1900. Most of the reconstructed buildings were built in a western style and turned the area into a modern place at the time. After the founding of the PRC in 1949, Dashilar became one of the city's major commercial centres and so the traditional Chinese buildings, old street layout, commercial establishments and folk customs have been preserved during the city's rapid urban development.
Wang Yu, head of the design team for Beijing Fun and a supervisor at BIAD, explained: “During the planning stages, we paid special attention to retaining the local residents' ways of life. Our aim was to further promote the commercial culture of old Beijing according to the principles of improving people's livelihoods, protecting traditional Chinese cultural resources and advancing economic development.”
The fourth floor of Beijing Fun features a terrace, from where visitors can look out over a sea of traditional siheyuan (courtyard homes) containing buildings
with wooden roofs, which are considered characteristic of old Beijing. The outdoor corridors on its second and third floors combine with the nearby siheyuan to reproduce the layout of old Beijing's commercial street containing buildings with Ming and Qing dynasty features and commercial establishments with western and Chinese elements constructed during the late Qing Dynasty and early Republic of China period. Beijing Fun also includes the restored Quanyechang, Beijing's first large and modern department store developed in 1923, as well as other restored historical buildings, such as Yien Yieh Commercial Bank, Jiaotong Bank and Qianxiangyi Silk Store. Other businesses include cultural and artistic centre, bookshops, creative enterprises, studios and restaurants. The design of Beijing Fun was created by BIAD and shows a clever integration of the complex's eight buildings and the entire street in terms of size, style and colour. BIAD has incorporated various styles from ancient China or western countries in its design of the complex, reflecting a strong cultural self-confidence.
BIAD has adhered to the principle of preserving the authentic layout of the city's old urban areas in the planning of Beijing Fun by renovating and reconstructing key buildings and combining traditional Chinese styles with modern elements to develop new buildings. By focusing on developing new buildings that integrate historical elements and modern lives, BIAD is helping to showcase the area's rich cultural and business environment.
In 2005, BIAD began putting together its detailed plans for the construction of Beijing Fun. On May 18, 2012, the design for Area C in Dashilar was launched, and on January 16, 2017, construction of Beijing Fun was completed. BIAD made painstaking efforts into the more than decade-long project, bringing in famous designers to participate in the development of the project including: Zhu Xiaodi and Wu Chen from BIAD; Zhu Wenyi and Bian Lanchun from Tsinghua University; and Cui Kai, Wang Shiren and Qi Xin from the China Architecture Design & Research Group.
BIAD has a prominent position within the Chinese architectural design industry and the institute invested huge amounts of human resources to complete the Beijing Fun project. Besides the design of the eight buildings, project leader Wu Chen led his team members in creating everything from the construction plans to schedules for the sub-ground spaces. The plan for Beijing Fun also included the comprehensive restoration of Quanyechang. According to the plans, Beijing Fun would become a cultural exchange and exhibition centre showcasing traditional Chinese culture, local Beijing culture and regional cultures from around China and the world. It would also become a highlight in restoring the city's old urban layout and hence become the city's ‘‘reception room.”
General manager of BIAD, Xu Quansheng, explained: “BIAD really understands the aesthetics of Chinese architecture. Architectural design is the combination of art and technology, and BIAD always keeps pace with the times. Whenever there is a major project to be designed in Beijing, those in-the-know will think of us first. That's our aim and commitment because we are the leading civil engineering enterprise in China.”
Interpretation of International Style
Apart from conserving and developing traditional culture, BIAD also insists on using an international language to interpret the self- confidence in Chinese culture. The 2014 APEC Summit (Beijing) was held in the Yanqi Lake International Convention & Exhibition Center, which was designed by BIAD under the theme of hantang feiyan (“flying Han and Tang”). This stunning building, which perfectly blends traditional Chinese culture with modern architecture, has attracted worldwide attention ever since its unveiling.
For the 2016 G20 Hangzhou summit, BIAD, as the overall coordinator of the design, once again attracted global attention by adopting the concept of shuimo Zhongguo (“China in Ink and Wash”) to showcase the style of a big country and the characteristics of a region criss-crossed with rivers.
Based on its maritime culture, traditional Chinese culture and regional cultural elements of Fujian Province, BIAD adopted a modern international language and subtle expressions to create the venue for the 2017 Xiamen BRICS Summit
and its relaxed, elegant spaces.
These buildings provide a stage for Chinese diplomacy, witness the selfconfidence of a rising power, embody the responsibility and tireless efforts in promoting the building of a community with a shared future, and add to the confidence and visibility of stateowned enterprises.
Today's BIAD is a national high-tech enterprise with scientific, technological and cultural innovation capabilities. It is a large State-owned architectural design firm that chiefly provides science and technology services which accelerate the construction of high-tech economic structures in Beijing and across China.
Lin Wei, director of the Information & Network Department of BIAD and director of the BIM Research Department explained: “During the 40 years of reform and opening- up, BIAD has won more than 650 national design and research awards including the China Zhan Tianyou Civil Engineering Prize, plus over 1,100 awards for design and research at the municipal level. In recent years especially, BIAD has been at the forefront of the industry in terms of importance and number of awards it has won each year. These achievements have laid a solid foundation in allowing us to accelerate the transformation of science and technology results and promote industrialisation. BIAD is becoming a digital design enterprise in the Internet- era and is promoting urban revitalisation through digital R& D.” Focusing on smart design, smart buildings, smart parks and smart cities, Lin continued: “We're also involved in the development of the Xiong'an digital planning platform in Xiong'an New Area.” BIAD has established a sound scientific research and innovation system, amassed a large number of design and scientific research results, and has advantages domestically and internationally. These advantages are in fields such as supersized complicated spatial structures, seismic strengthening, building information modelling technology, green building and residential industrialisation.
Chinese buildings make use of homegrown science and technology and products to showcase the country's traditional culture. BIAD is an example of a firm using design to integrate Chinese culture and technology into architecture. One can learn more about it by visiting the BIAD'S BDD Digital Experience Centre in Beijing and putting on VR glasses to take an immersive journey through architectural technology.
The Phoenix International Media Center, independently created by BIAD, uses digital technology to explore technological innovation in terms of architectural design control, engineering collaboration, processing and construction, and ecological strategy, with precision manufacturing-grade architectural results. The building is a wholly original design constructed entirely by Chinese architects. Lin explained: “It's no exaggeration to say that we Chinese used this building as an opportunity to
carry out a digital ‘revolution' to a certain extent.” Using the concept of big data and geometric control theory, the Phoenix International Media Center has formed a “sample” of Chinese people's homegrown digital design, having upgraded the country's digital design and furthered the progress of the domestic construction industry. As such, this building is of great pioneering significance.
BIAD has always remained pragmatic when faced by challenging designs. The institute has made breakthroughs in scientific and technological research for projects such as the Five-hundred-metre Aperture Spherical radio Telescope (FAST) and also achieved tasks assigned by the State. BIAD has won such honours as the “FAST Engineering Construction Award for Unit with Outstanding Contribution” and the “Beijing Science and Technology First Prize.” Of the institute's patent applications, five have been granted and six have entered the review stage. Once again, this demonstrates to the world that Chinese design has achieved the quantum leap from Made in China to Created in China.
BIAD and the City
BIAD'S works are landmarks scattered across major cities. Iconic buildings such as the Great Hall of the People, the National Centre for the Performing Arts, China Zun Tower and the Beijing Daxing International Airport will become collective memories for people in the city. Impressions of these memories will in turn affect Chinese people's perceptions of architecture and the city.
The exhibition of architectural works is being jointly hosted by the State- owned Assets Supervision and Administration Commission of the People's Government of Beijing Municipality and BIAD. It is guided by Xi Jinping Thought on Socialism with Chinese Characteristics for a New Era, and is based on the concept of “symbiosis between BIAD and the construction and development of the capital city.” The exhibition reviews the development history of BIAD and shares and sums up the BIAD'S architectural works over the past 69 years, especially during the 40 years of reform and opening-up through exhibits, lectures and forums, with a view to serving the construction of the capital and the development of the country.
The exhibition is composed of three parts: the 80-m-long Exhibition Wall, the Capital Model of the central area and the Time Tunnel. The Exhibition Wall slowly unfolds to reveal three chapters titled “foundation of the country, prospering country,” “great progress” and “classics in a flourishing age.” They give an overview of BIAD'S development. They examine the institute's transformation from small beginnings to its current scale and quality development and its transformation from material to spiritual progress, all during three different eras since the founding of new China. BIAD uses architectural design to shape China's image, help China go global and achieve its great rejuvenation. The exhibition explains BIAD'S contributions to building the capital and developing its urban areas through pictures, text, models, historical artefacts, manuscripts, drawings, certificates, videos and audio.
The Capital Model debuts at the exhibition. The 10.3 m x 6 m model depicts buildings from between Dawang Lu in the east and Gongzhufen in the west, as well as the city between the North and South Second Ring Roads. All the buildings in the area are shown in the model and projects BIAD has participated in over the past 69 years are marked. The large-scale model presents the symbiosis of BIAD and the capital in the central area in an intuitive way.
In the Time Tunnel— a relatively independent and closed immersive experience area— one can “visit” two of BIAD'S national- level key projects for the new era via simulations of the Beijing Daxing International Airport and National Speed Skating Oval. Here, one can enjoy yourself charms of the “Skybridge” and the dancing “Ice Ribbon.”
From its key work in the early days of the PRC, to its transformation into a key strength since reform and opening-up and its participation in and construction of national key projects in the new era, BIAD has been exploring architectural design for 69 years and growing together with the capital.
With its vision of “Building the Most Valuable Brand Enterprise in China's Construction Industry,” BIAD adheres to the philosophy of “buildings that serve society, designs that create value” and the management concepts of “openness, cooperation, innovation, and win-win results.” BIAD makes full use of its comprehensive advantages in design, research, talent and technologies to enhance its core competitiveness in an all-around manner and maintain its leading design level and original ability amidst fierce market competition.
BIAD has assumed its responsibility in fulfilling dreams and is exploring future urban development through innovation.
It is also contributing to the development of the industry, the prosperity of architectural design and the development of Beijing into a world- class, harmonious and liveable capital.
The Beijing Daxing International Airport is one of BIAD’S major projects and currently under construction.
A rendering of the National Speed Skating Oval (“Ice Ribbon,” a venue for the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics) designed by BIAD
Part of the Beijing Fun complex designed by BIAD, which combines traditional Chinese architectural style and Western elements
Yanqi Lake International Convention Centre was designed by BIAD and hosts many major international events.