Here I am spending an otherwise beautiful summer afternoon behind the keyboard warming up to write an editor’s note. It suddenly strikes me that this is Aug. 8, 2015 — seven years since the Opening Ceremony of the Summer Olympics in Beijing. Eight is considered a lucky number in China, so it wasn’t surprising that they started their Olympic games at 8:08 p.m. on 8/8/08.

My special connection to the 2008 Summer Olympics was a visit to Beijing three weeks in advance of the games. I was in China to attend the China Building Waterproofing Expo in Shanghai and visit with my good friend, G.Q. Zhao, who lives in nearby Suzhou. The report is still online (check it out here).

Of course, when I visited Beijing, roofing was the topic, and the most fascinating of all the roofing construction was the Beijing National Aquatics Center. This intriguing structure served as the swimming and diving venue, and was referred to by locals as the “Water Cube.” Its unique surface of bubbles and see-through skin made it a feast for the eyes, and at night it became a virtual fantasy with its mesmerizing light shows.

This was my first exposure to ETFE (Ethylene tetrafluoroethylene) membrane. Since then, this unique membrane has been seen more and more worldwide, primarily on marquis projects. Here are some examples of buildings and design using ETFE as a significant architectural element:

Allianz ArenaMunichGermany

Beijing National Aquatics CentreBeijingChina

Eden ProjectCornwallUnited Kingdom

Khan Shatyr Entertainment CenterAstanaKazakhstan

National Space Centre, Leicester, United Kingdom

 Beijing made the news recently as the host city of the 2022 Winter Olympics. This will make Beijing the first city to host both the summer and winter Olympics in the modern era. I look forward to covering the construction of the venues, which will be in full swing in the near future.