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8 Incredible Facts about the CCTV Headquarters

A building with a height of over 200 meters (656 feet) is a pretty remarkable sight, but very few compare to this incredible skyscraper in the capital city of the People’s Republic of China.

This landmark in Beijing is such a marvel of modern Deconstructivist architecture that it has been praised by renowned critics all around the world.

Along with the cheers came several awards as well, and in my opinion, they were pretty deserved.

In this article, you’ll discover some of the most interesting facts about the CCTV Headquarters, one of the greatest feats of architecture ever constructed.

1. It’s located just east of the Third Ring Road of Beijing

The historical heart of Beijing, the enormous capital city of China, is marked by Tiananmen Square and the Forbidden City, the immense former Imperial palace complex.

The historic buildings in this area are in sheer contrast with the modern structures that make up the central business district of Beijing just to the east which is dominated by the China Zun tower.

The CCTV headquarters is one of the many skyscrapers that can be found here. It borders the Third Ring Road, a major ring road that encircles the entire historical center of the city.

CCTV Headquarters location
The building next to the Third Ring Road / Wiki Commons

2. It replaced the former headquarters of China Central Television (CCTV)

As the name of the building suggests, it serves as the headquarters of China Central Television (CCTV), the state media that has been used as a propaganda channel since 1958.

They operate about 50 channels that serve media to over a billion viewers in 6 different languages. That’s why they need quite a bit of space.

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The old headquarters served its purpose between 1988 and 2013. This 27-story skyscraper with a height of 112 meters (367 feet) was replaced by the magnificent new building.

China Media Group former Headquarters
China Media Group’s former Headquarters / Oenvoyage / Wiki Commons

3. The building was designed by two renowned architects

The building has a very complex design which made it one of the most challenging construction projects in history.

It was designed by some of the most renowned architects of the 21st century, the Dutch architect Rem Koolhaas and the German architect Ole Scheeren.

Koolhaas is famously known for his modern designs, including for example the amazing Seattle Central Library Building.

Scheeren’s most notable work is King Power Mahanakhon, a tall skyscraper in Bangkok, Thailand, which has an appearance as if parts are cut out at the center and top.

CCTV Headquarters facts
The amazing building in Beijing / Wiki Commons

4. Architect Rem Koolhaas made a remarkable statement about the building

The building features 6 horizontal and vertical sections that are interconnected with each other and it has a large open space in the center.

This isn’t exactly the ideal design for an area that is considered to be prone to earthquakes. Needless to say, this brought up several challenges for the engineers who worked on the project.

Rem Koolhaas made a remarkable statement about this notion saying:

This building could never have been conceived by the Chinese and could never have been built by Europeans. It is a hybrid by definition.

CCTV Headquarters construction
The building under construction in 2008 / Jakob Montrasio / Wiki Commons

5. How tall is the CCTV Headquarters building?

Because of its peculiar shape, the CCTV Headquarters don’t appear to be as tall as they really are. The building features 51 floors and has a height of 234 meters (768 feet).

The floors can be reached by any of the 75 elevators inside the building and it has a total floor area of 389,079 square meters (4,188,010 square feet).

CCTV Headquarters height
The building is much taller than it appears to be / Morio / Wiki Commons

6. The tower is accompanied by an equally impressive skyscraper

Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren earned a prestigious commission because they were also in charge of the building that stands right next to the CCTV headquarters.

This skyscraper is known as the “Television Cultural Center” (TVCC) and features a hotel, a 1,500-seat theater, a ballroom, and several studios from which the programs of China Central Television (CCTV) are aired.

This tower features 34 floors and stands significantly less tall than its bigger neighbor with a height of 159 meters (522 feet).

Beijing Television Cultural Center
Beijing Television Cultural Center / WiNG / Wiki Commons

7. A nearby fire resulted in the building taking 8 years to complete

The first stone of the CCTV Buiding was laid on June 1, 2004, and the exterior façade was completed about 3 and a half years later in January 2008.

This was also the time that the building was inaugurated, even though the interior was far from complete at the time.

A tragedy occurred on February 9, 2009, when fireworks during the Lantern Festival sparked a fire that engulfed the entire nearby Television Cultural Center.

It wasn’t until October 2009 that the rebuilding of both projects started and it was finally completed in May 2012, three years after its scheduled completion date.

CCTV Headquarters fire in 2009
The massive fire in 2009 / Wiki Commons

8. It won multiple prestigious prizes but locals have a mocking nickname for it

The incredible structure in Beijing has been referred to as “the greatest work of architecture built in this century” and this praise was followed by several prestigious awards.

It won the “Best Tall Building Worldwide” from the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat in 2013 and that’s because it’s really a wonder of the modern world.

The locals aren’t that impressed with it apparently because a taxi driver once referred to it as “Big Boxer Shorts.”

This rather mocking nickname quickly spread and was changed to “big pants,” a name that is still used by people living and working in the area today.

CCTV Headquarters at night
The amazing area in Beijing at night / Wiki Commons