'Twisted Doughnut' rises to Olympic TV challenge


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The Independent Online

The multi-million pound headquarters of China's state broadcaster CCTV is finally ready to go live after its opening was delayed by a fire three years ago.

Designed by ultrahip Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and Beijing-based Ole Scheeren, the building was partially opened in 2008. But the full inauguration, due in 2010, was put on hold after a nearby hotel blaze caused by illegal fireworks damaged the neighbouring North Tower.

Two years on, CCTV's new head office is expected to be up and running in time to broadcast the London Olympics. Executives are hoping that by broadcasting the Games from the new building, they can draw a close to a sorry chapter in Beijing's urban renewal. Staff at CCTV said they had not been told when the building would reopen. The spectacular 234-metre continuous tube without right angles in the Central Business District is known as the "Twisted Doughnut", and boasts 400,000 metres of floor space.

The damaged North Tower is now being renovated and should be ready in 2014.

Twenty-one people were given jail terms of between three and seven years after the fire, including top CCTV executive Xu Wei, who was in charge of construction at the new complex. The cost of the fire damage was estimated at more than 160 million yuan (£16m).