Beijing has taken a key step in its preparations for hosting the 2008 Olympics by selecting a Sino-US design for its Olympic Park. The park's design, drafted by Sasaki Associates, of the United States, and the Shanghai office of the Tianjin Huahui Construction and Design Company, covers 2.9 million square metres of land that will house the Games' main facilities. 'I believe the co-operation of US and Chinese architects has proved very successful with this plan,' said Xi Shuxiang, general manager of Tianjin Huahui in Shanghai. 'Our design may have to be refined but it will be the basis of the future Olympic Park.' The Beijing Municipal Architecture and Design Committee confirmed that the award had been made to the Sino-American group. Construction will not begin until refinements are made, however, although there was no estimate of when that would be. The design was chosen from a field of 87 competitors and was selected by a panel including 13 Chinese and foreign judges. The winners will receive US$250,000 (HK$1.95 million) for their efforts. The Olympic Park includes the main athletics stadium, a gymnasium, an indoor swimming pool, the athletes' village, an exhibition centre and a commercial district. It also includes an Olympic Heroes Memorial, where the Olympic torch will be lit. Mr Xi said the design incorporated a 5,000-metre corridor with a series of plazas that would represent 5,000 years of Chinese culture.