The centrepiece of the 2008 Summer Olympics is the Beijing National Stadium, nicknamed the Bird's Nest because of its nest-like skeletal structure. Construction of the venue began on December 24, 2003. The Guangdong Olympic Stadium was originally planned, constructed, and completed in 2001 to help host the Games, but a decision was made to construct a new stadium in Beijing. Government officials engaged architects worldwide in a design competition. A Swiss firm, Herzog & de Meuron Architekten AG, collaborated with China Architecture Design & Research Group to win the competition. The stadium features a lattice-like steel outer skeleton around the concrete stadium bowl and has a seating capacity of over 90,000 people. Architects originally described the overall design as resembling a bird nest with an immense ocular opening with a retractable roof over the stadium. However, in 2004, the idea of the retractable roof was abandoned for economic and safety reasons. The Beijing National Stadium was the site of the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as the athletics events and soccer finals. The Beijing Olympic Village opened on July 16, 2008 and to the public on July 26, 2008.