The Lantern Festival is usually characterized by pretty processions of Chinese citizens carrying handheld lanterns, but last night some revelers at CCTV in Beijing created a much bigger blaze when they accidentally set light to the Mandarin Oriental hotel.
Staffers at the national TV network were celebrating the festival, which kicks of the Chinese New Year, by letting off fireworks from their flashy new Rem Koolhaas-designed Beijing HQ. But sparks from the fireworks landed on the roof of the next door Mandarin Hotel, also part of the new CCTV complex, and ignited a full-scale fire. It was documented in photos and videos by branding and design consultant Ray Ally.
Fortunately the hotel isn't open yet so there were no guests or staff in the building at the time, but a fireman died according to reports. CCTV has officially apologized, but it's not a good omen for the superstitious Chinese to start the new year.
The Mandarin Oriental has been in the works for about eight years, and has been hit by problem after problem. The building was going to be the hotel group's flagship property in Beijing after its scheduled opening later this year. It's not clear yet if the building will have to be torn down and rebuilt from the ground up or if the existing structure can be salvaged.