CCTV Headquarters 中国中央电视台广播部

Part of A Better Guide to Běijīng’s coverage of North and East of the Imperial City

Standing on the east side of the East Third Ring Road just north of the China World Trade Centre, this is not only a building you cannot miss, but one from which you’ll find it hard to look away. Is it about to topple over?

The 55-storey 234m-high main structure consists of two towers leaning at 60 degrees, whose tops are improbably connected by a gravity-defying horizontal L-shaped section. Those wondering at China’s unassuageable thirst for steel might look no further than this building, held together as it is by a metal exoskeleton that makes it 40% heavier than the ex-Twin Towers of New York, for example, despite having only about one third of the floor space.

The building was supposed to have a viewing gallery, but this still shows no sign of opening. Any chance to get close to this modern masterpiece, on which it will be impossible not to have an opinion, should certainly be taken. One answer for the well-heeled would have been to stay immediately adjacent in the boot-shaped TVCC (Television Cultural Centre), part of the same complex and which looks as though it is gradually reshaping itself after having been crumpled up. The building was gutted by a fire in early 2009, idiotically caused by CCTV itself (see The Shock of the New) and for more than a year its future remained unclear. In spring 2010 the structure was declared essentially safe, and robust enough for a refit rather than a complete rebuilding. Work on a spectacular Mandarin Oriental hotel for the upper floors was reportedly restarted, but its opening date was been repeatedly delayed, and in 2017 it was announced that there would be a Mandarin Oriental in a Qián Mén location, with no mention of the original plan.

A relaunch of the whole complex in March 2013 was marred by the 230m plunge to their deaths of a real estate mogul and a well-known model in the tower’s first ever (and probably last ever) bungee jump. The couple had just become engaged.

There has been talk that the building is cursed, although that might be said to be true of any building occupied by CCTV, whose purpose is the control of information, the suppression of speculation or fair comment, and the restriction of the imagination to the entirely monochrome.

Zhōngguó Zhōngyāng Diànshì Guǎngbōbù, Dōng Sān Huán Zhōng Lù. m Jīn Tái Xīzhào (Line 10). b to 光华桥北: 运通107线, 113, 402, 405, 421, 488, 686, 707, 974.

Next in North and East of the Imperial City: Former Residence of Máo Dùn
Previously: Ancient Observatory
Main Index of A Better Guide to Beijing.

For discussion of China travel, see The Oriental-List.