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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

WORLD BEAT: Beijing Begins Work on Futuristic Theater

BEIJING -- China began work on a futuristic and controversial 6,200-seat national theater Saturday, 42 years after then-Premier Zhou Enlai proposed the idea.

Construction of the titanium and glass-domed building in a lake in central Beijing is expected to take three years.

Preliminary work on the 180,000-square-meter site, next to the Great Hall of the People near Tiananmen Square, began Saturday, the state-run Xinhua News Agency said.

The building will contain four halls with a total of more than 6,000 seats.

Visitors will enter through a tunnel under the lake, which will be surrounded by grass and trees.

Critics have argued that the monument lacks Chinese characteristics, is too expensive and too ostentatious.

Premier Zhou first proposed a national theater in 1958. A huge hole was dug, but work stopped because of financial problems.