Apart from being one of Asia's largest metropolises, Beijing is an ultimate visual challenge. The country's growing economy and construction boom has attracted the attention of the world's finest architects eager to create masterworks in this city. The new is rapidly replacing the old in the country's political, economic and cultural center. When Beijing won the bid in 2001 to host the 2008 Olympic Games, the city started a somewhat controversial transformation.
Olympic-driven developments - from sports and cultural infrastructure to business buildings and commercial facilities - have transformed a city once characterized by conservative Communist architecture. Now the emerging Chinese middle-class can live, work and play in Westernstyle residential buildings, offices and malls, such as SOHO Shangdu and can be seen in some of the city's trendiest venues, like Philippe Starck's LAN restaurant and Zhong Song's Song Music Bar + Kitchen.