Awarded to Paul Andreu in August 1999 as a result of an international competition that he won in the last phase against Carlos Ott, and the English architect Terry Farrell, this 149,500 square meter structure just behind the Great Hall of the People, near Tien An Men Square, and thus very close to the entrance to the Forbidden City. It is a 212-meter long ellipsoidal titanium shell that which house three halls of 2,416 seats (opera), 2,017 (concerts) and 1,040 seats (theater). The shorter axis of the structure is 143 meters long and the height of the shell is 46 meters. In order to leave the external shell intact, the architect has chosen to provide public access through a transparent 60-meter long tunnel that will pass beneath the basin that surrounds the building. This is a device similar to the underwater tunnel he used in the Osaka Maritime Museum. Andreu emphasizes that the tunnel is an essential design element since it represents a transition space between the bustling outside world and the world of culture within. Extensive urban renewal efforts have made way for a large park area around the Opera that was erected on a very fast schedule with the opening for the December of 2007.