Metal Winner

When the Olympic Games come to Beijing next summer, the National Stadium, designed by Herzog & de Meuron, will be the centerpiece of a planned $40 billion citywide construction project. Begun in late 2003 to ensure the capital would be in prime shape by 2008—and to avoid the last-minute problems that plagued the 2004 Athens Games—the renovations now under way are the most ambitious in Olympic history. The open-roof stadium, slated for completion by the end of this year, features crisscrossing metal latticework rising more than 200 feet high and, when finished, will seat 91,000 spectators. Like Beijing itself, it is a melding of the modern and the traditional, though locals have a less formal description: They affectionately call it the Bird’s Nest.