Koolhaas Building in CCTV Complex Engulfed by Fire

The New York Times’s Andrew Jacobs and Graham Bowley report that a fierce fire has engulfed Rem Koolhaas’s CCTV complex during the last day of celebrations for the Lunar New Year in Beijing, while the city was ablaze with fireworks. The building is part of China Central Television’s new headquarters. It was a trophy of Beijing’s pre-Olympics building boom, the result of many billions of dollars the ruling Communist Party devoted to making Beijing a city of the future.

The burning building, also known as the TVCC tower, housed a luxury hotel and cultural center and stood next to the main CCTV tower. Flames were visible from the ground floor to the top floor of the large building. CCTV estimated that the fire had begun a few minutes before 8:30 PM, although some local residents said they saw flames as early as 7:45 PM.

It was not immediately clear what had caused the fire, but the city had been filled with fireworks for the annual festival. There were also no details about whether there were any injuries, but witnesses at the scene said that workers had been present around the clock and were likely to have been in the building when the fire started.

The hotel in the building, a 241-room Mandarin Oriental, was due to open this year. Erik Amir, a senior architect at Koolhaas’s firm, the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, rushed to the site, the Associated Press reported. “I think it’s really sad that this building is destroyed before it can be opened to the public,” he was quoted as saying.

Koolhaas CCTV Building on fire