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OMA in Beijing: China Central Television Headquarters
China Central Television Headquarters by OMA / Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren. 2006. View looking east. Computer-generated image. © OMA 2006.

NEW YORK.- The Museum of Modern Art presents OMA in Beijing: China Central Television Headquarters, an in-depth exhibition concentrating on one of the most innovative and technologically advanced architectural projects in China’s recent wave of urban expansion. OMA Beijing—a division of the Rotterdam-based Office for Metropolitan Architecture, which was founded by Pritzker-prize winning architect Rem Koolhaas in 1975 in conjunction with Elia and Zoe Zenghelis—collaborated with MoMA to design the exhibition, which highlights the development of the China Central Television Headquarters (CCTV) project since construction began in September 2004. OMA partner Ole Scheeren leads CCTV’s design and execution from Beijing. Combining large-scale construction photographs, interior renderings, and models—many on view for the first time in the United States—the exhibition reveals the complexity of the CCTV project and demonstrates its cultural and historical relevance. OMA in Beijing is on view from November 15, 2006, through February 26, 2007, in The Philip Johnson Architecture and Design Galleries on the third floor. The exhibition is organized by Tina Di Carlo, Assistant Curator, and Alexandra Quantrill, Curatorial Assistant, Department of Architecture and Design, The Museum of Modern Art.

Explains Ms. Di Carlo, “The project is one of the most visionary since modernism and beyond. It pushes the limits of architecture, not just formally but, more importantly, socially, culturally, and technologically through the reinvention of the tall building. The various functions of buildings, their spatial articulation and organization, have been completely rethought to provoke a new kind of collective construct with the potential for social and urban change.”

OMA won the international design competition for the CCTV headquarters in 2002. The project broke ground in September 2004, and is scheduled to open in time to broadcast the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Upon its completion, the CCTV headquarters will accommodate over 10,000 staff members and visitors per day and will have the capability to broadcast to 250 channels worldwide.

The China Central Television project combines over six million square feet of functional space situated on a 2.15-million-square-foot site within Beijing's Central Business District (CBD). It includes three structures: the CCTV building, the Television Cultural Center (TVCC), and a service building. A surrounding Media Park forms a landscape of gardens for outdoor filming and public events.

The CCTV building is an angular loop formed by a low-rise on the bottom, two towers situated diagonally across from one another on the sides, and a bridge connecting the two towers at the top, leaving a hollowed-out cube in the center of the building. An irregular diagonal mesh, a brace frame engineered by Arup’s Cecil Balmond and Rory McGowan, wraps around the exterior of the building and forms its primary structure, giving the building unparalleled stability.

Its almost five million square feet of space integrate all aspects of television making—administration, news broadcasting, and program production—into a single structure. A public Visitors’ Loop is indicative of the project’s initiative to make media more accessible in China’s rapidly changing society. It offers the public visual access to actors’ lounges, dressing rooms, production studios, and canteens, and also includes the sky lobby and exhibition deck overlooking Beijing’s CBD.

TVCC, which forms CCTV’s mirror image, is a 1.25-million-square-foot building for public use. It will house a 1,500-seat state-of-the-art broadcasting theater, an exhibition hall, recording studios, a ballroom, digital cinemas, the international broadcasting center for the Olympic Games in 2008, and a five-star hotel.

The focal point of MoMA’s installation is a central “city” of over 25 models of CCTV and TVCC. The models reveal the development of the form and structure of each building, as well as the intricacy of the interiors. Large-scale interior models of CCTV’s plinth and overhang, and of TVCC, were specially constructed in China for the exhibition and will be acquired by the Museum for its collection.

Eleven large-scale construction photographs by architectural photographers Iwan Baan and Frank Palmer form the backdrop of the installation. The photographs chronicle the project’s rapid construction and provide insight into the urban context of Beijing—the enormity of the city’s scale and its recent modernization. Diagrams, renderings, texts, and architectural drawings explain specific aspects of the CCTV project, including its massive scale and structure, its spatial organization, and its integration of the surrounding landscape.

One area of the exhibition examines the interior spaces of CCTV, demonstrating how the building will produce a new paradigm of collective social space. A storyboard charts the trajectories of five fictional characters passing through the interior spaces, as they meet and interact according to their different roles throughout a 24-hour period.
Eight historical works from the Museum’s architectural drawings collection, including Superstudio’s Continuous Monument (1969) and Kisho Kurokawa’s Helix City (1961), are presented alongside the project to reveal its relevance to key developments within modernism.

This exhibition is part of an ongoing series of in-depth installations at The Museum of Modern Art, each of which examines a single contemporary architecture project of local and international interest. The projects chosen significantly affect the urban and social environment and are some of the most innovative and visionary works within the context of architectural discourse. The High Line (2005) is a prior exhibition in this series.

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