The 2008 Olympics have found China caught in the center of a heated nexus of political and social controversy, with human rights and of course the Tibet issue popping up to disturb Olympic revelers’ idealist visions for the celebration. While originally commissioned as a monument to Beijing’s might, Herzog and deMeuron’s stunning Bird’s Nest Olympic Stadium, (looking as spectacular as we imagined it), perhaps now better symbolizes the complex web of problems and paradox assailing modern China. Photographer Andy Ryan has recently released a eye-catchign set of photos depicting the structure silently weathering its storm-ridden cultural context. Divorced from scenes of social turmoil, these frames capture the architectural marvel’s complex and implacable beauty.

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The Beijing Olympic Stadium (better known as the ‘Birdsnest’) is a carefully composed network of connections and features a very atypical structural framework – which functions as both structure and facade all in one. The building’s lofty green architectural aspirations are tempered by some of the malignant conditions of its construction (such as laborers dying in construction accidents). Whatever you think of the Herzog + deMeuron Beijing Birdsnest, it certainly is provocative, both as a piece of architecture, and a symbol of current social ills. We’d love to hear your thoughts….

+ Beijing Birdsnest: Herzog & deMeuron’s Stunning Olympic Stadium