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The National Aquatics Center, Beijing, China, has been awarded the 2010 IABSE Outstanding Structure Award for being 'a breathtaking interlocked soap bubble architecture of ETFE pillows within a polyhedral steel space frame resulting in outstanding aesthetic harmony of form function and structure which is energy efficient and pleasing to all'. The Outstanding Structure Award recognises the most remarkable, innovative, creative or otherwise stimulating structure completed within the last few years.
The Finalists were the Heathrow T5A, UK; the Spiral Towers, Japan and the Sutong Bridge, China. The Outstanding Structure Award Committee is chaired by Mr. William J. Nugent, USA.
The National Aquatics Center known as 'Water Cube' located in Beijing Olympic Park, is the main swimming pool as well as a landmark of the Beijing 2008 Summer Olympic Games. With the completion on January 28, 2008, the Water Cube acted as the main venue for competitions such as swimming, diving and synchronised swimming. The 177m × 177m National Aquatics Center is divided into three main pool halls, that is, the hall of the Olympic tournament, a warm-up pool hall and leisure hall, with ETFE bubble wall between each two of them. On the top of the southeast main entrance there is a space for the visitors to come to feel, experience, touch the bubble.
The Plaque Unveiling Ceremony for the IABSE Outstanding Structure Award 2010 took place in the National Aquatics Center on December 3, 2010. The Ceremony attracted more than 150 participants, including governmental officers, structural design and construction related people and delegates involved in the realisation of the structure. The event was sponsored by Beijing National Aquatics Center Company Ltd and the Ceremony was hosted by Zhenjiang Sui, Director General of Beijing Urban Construction and Communications Commission.
Speeches were consecutively given by Predrag Popovic, President of IABSE, Aiqing Li, Board Chairman of Beijing State-Owned Assets Management Co. Ltd; Xueyi Fu, Chief Engineer of China State Construction International (Shenzhen) Design Consultants Ltd, the main designer; Qinglian Tang, President of China Civil Engineering Society; Gang Chen, Vice-Mayor of Beijing Municipality, and Yunchong Guo, Vice-Minister of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Construction. Predrag Popovic and and Gang Chen then jointly unveiled the Plaque.