It’s official: Zaha Hadid Architects’ massive design for the new Beijing Daxing International Airport (PKX) is open to the public and expected to see up to 45 million passengers a year, with hopes of accommodating 72 million by 2025.

Envisioned by the late Hadid herself in conjunction with French construction engineering firm ADP Ingénierie, the sprawling “starfish” structure is now considered the largest terminal building in the world at 7.5 million square feet. It was built in less than five years in an effort to relieve air traffic from the nearby Beijing Capital International Airport (PEK), a 2008 design by Foster + Partners. Located at the opposite end of China’s capital to the south, PKX sits on the outskirts of the Daxing District. 

Exterior view of airport laneway

The building is splayed out across 7.5 million square feet in Daxing. (Hufton+Crow)

Earlier today at 4:23 p.m. in China, the first commercial flight took off from the airport and headed to Guangzhou. Six other domestic flights departed from the four runways on site before 5 p.m. Over the coming weeks and months, several flight routes will be transitioned from PEK to PKX while some airlines, like British Airways, will move their entire Chinese operations to Daxing. In total, the airport is currently slated to handle 630,000 flights annually. 

AN previously reported on the terminal’s sweeping interiors and its many signature-Zaha design moments. From the curved white walls and ceilings to the slick, polished floors, the airport is arguably one of the most visually complex in the world. It features radial skylights that extend out from the center of the structure down the length of its legs. A copper-colored skin clads the airport’s roofs and from above, it truly looks alien. From the inside, it takes on almost a new-age modernist tone. 

The airport’s grand opening comes just days before the 70-year anniversary since the founding of the People’s Republic of China. French construction engineering firm ADP Ingénierie led the design and build-out with ZHA.

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