Visitors flying into Beijing can’t miss the Beijing Capital International Airport’s terminal three that has taken shape in a very big way on a site adjacent to the current airport. The striking design by NFA, a joint venture of NECO, Foster and Partners and ARUP reflects the joy of flight through an aerodynamic form. Viewed from the air, the structure resembles one of Chinese culture's most symbolic figures, a reclining dragon.

From the air, structure resembles a dragon.
(Photo courtesy of Michael Goodman for ENR)

Adding more than 9 million sq ft of space in three structures, the terminal will increase the airport’s capacity to 60 million passengers a year by 2015. The two main buildings, for international passengers at one end and domestic at the other, stretch over 3.5 kilometers and are connected by an automated people mover. Jonathan Kerry, senior engineer on site for the Beijing office of ARUP, says the space frames supporting the roofs of the two main structures each have 45,000 members.

As is typical of other large projects in China, the work force is huge. At the peak of work, three domestic contractors employed 36,000 workers at the site. The Beijing Urban Construction Group heads up work on Terminal 3A. The Beijing Central Engineering Group oversees Terminal 3B. The ground transportation center connecting the two is under contract to the China Construction Engineering Co. 8 Burea