Beijing breaks ground on city's tallest skyscraper

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The Independent Online

Construction has started on Beijing's tallest skyscraper, set to rise 500 metres and shaped like a vase, the state-owned CITIC group said Tuesday.

The building is the latest in a surge of ambitious construction projects in the Chinese capital, which along with other cities in China is attracting cutting-edge international architects keen to push design boundaries.

A groundbreaking ceremony on the planned 500-metre (1,650-feet) tall China Zun tower, named after a type of traditional Chinese wine vessel, took place in Beijing Monday, a spokesman for CITIC, the building's developer, told AFP.

The state-owned investment giant said the tower would be both its office building and a tourist attraction.

It would feature the latest energy-saving technology, and the top floor would encourage sightseeing from a platform and have a cafe with panoramic views, CITIC told the state-run Global Times.

Online pictures of a model of the tower show a slender glass and steel structure that appears to have an observation platform on the roof and a central atrium at the top of the building.

It will be built just a stone's throw from the 330-metre-tall China World Trade Center Tower 3, Beijing's current tallest building.

In the run-up to the Beijing Olympics, the capital added buildings such as the ultra-modern opera house - a rounded titanium and glass structure - by French architect Paul Andreu, and the 90,000-seat "Bird's Nest" stadium.

The soaring, cantilevered China Central Television Tower by Dutch architectural wunderkind Rem Koolhaas - described as one of the most daring pieces of architecture ever attempted - was also built to much acclaim.

Renowned British architect Norman Foster, meanwhile, who designed Terminal 3 at Beijing's international airport, is also building CITIC Bank headquarters in the eastern city of Hangzhou.