Nanjing is currently in a mad rush to get ready for the Asian Youth Games with the opening ceremony only 16 days away and the changes are amazing to watch!
Signs have been up for months now but recently many of the athletic facilities around town have been getting make-overs. There has also been an upswing in public security, with security booths/tents being set up at entry areas to practice fields and stadiums. There was a news article about x-ray machines being installed at the Metro stations as well and having to wait an extra 15 minutes to get on the metro line because of baggage checks, though I haven’t been on the metro in the last week so I have yet to confirm this.
This morning on the way to work I noticed that they have installed huge heat-adhered “Nanjing 2013” signs onto the road running down the bus lanes. It’s a pretty cool idea but I wasn’t expecting such details at least not this year. You see, all of this preparation is really just a dry run for next summer.
In 2014 Nanjing will be hosting the International Youth Olympic Games (YOG). This is a really big deal and you can already see the local pride starting to show though. It was all well and good for Beijing to get the 2008 Olympic bid and then the Shanghai Expo in 2010, both are massive international metropolises. Nanjing (while still a pretty big city) doesn’t really have the same international feel as Beijing and Shanghai do. Things are changing though!
Over the last few years Nanjing has started to ramp up its city planning projects and there seems to be no limit to the undertakings. The 2 existing metro lines are being extended while a further 3 lines are being built right now (to be opened before the YOG next summer) followed by another 2 in the next five years. There are also several major tunnel project to link the two sides of the city, which will hopefully ease congestion on the bridges over the Yangtze River.
Along with this comes projects to better the cities park and several new hotels that are being built. The roads have been under a huge amount of construction to rework the existing drainage system for rain run off, which the city has desperately needed for a long time. While this makes life here in Nanjing less convenient (ok, honestly its just plain difficult) the end result will be amazing and that is what I am looking forward to seeing.
As a designer, I am really lucky to be working and studying Architecture and City Planning in a city that has pretty much stated there is no projected limit for spending for the next 5 years.