Indonesian entrepreneur and philanthropist Sukanto Tanoto, the son of Chinese immigrants from Fujian Province, has funded a wide range of endeavors in the fields of infrastructure-building, social welfare, and education in both Indonesia and China. Before the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing, Mr. Tanoto contributed $5 million USD to support the construction of a major aquatic stadium. The National Aquatics Center, or the “Water Cube,” was the official site of the Games’ swimming competitions that year.
Mr. Tanoto was in Singapore when he first heard of the plan to construct the Aquatics Center prior to the Olympics. He approached officials representing the Beijing Overseas Chinese Affairs Office to offer his financial support. He considered the gift an expression of his and his family’s love of their Chinese ancestral homeland, and a symbol of the significant success that overseas Chinese have earned in the international business world.
The Water Cube, so nicknamed because of its square shape and bright blue color, was designed by a Chinese and Australian team. Construction took place over the course of more than four years from 2003 to 2008. The facility measures close to 200 yards along each side, is nearly 100 feet in height, and covers an area of more than 75,000 square yards. The second floor’s auditorium has a capacity of some 17,000 permanent and temporary seats. As the center prepared for its debut, Popular Science magazine pronounced it among the “Best of What’s New” in 2006.
During construction of the Water Cube, Mr. Tanoto visited the site several times. Noting his own early interests in architecture, building, and design, he found the environmentally progressive Cube to be advanced in its use of materials and its composition. He and his family are proud to have participated in an Olympic event, and to support China’s increasing role as a leader on the world stage.