Thursday, October 20, 2005


[NYT]: SHANGHAI, Oct. 16 - Move over, New York. This year alone, Shanghai will complete towers with more space for living and working than there is in all the office buildings in New York City.

That is in a city that already has 4,000 skyscrapers, almost double the number in New York. And there are designs to build 1,000 more by the end of this decade.

China's real estate market is so hot that miniature cities are being created with artificial lakes, and the country's nouveau riche suddenly seem eager to put down as much as $5.3 million for a luxury apartment in skyscrapers with names like the Skyline Mansion.

For decades after the Communists took over in 1949, there was relatively little housing construction or office building under central planning. But since the early 1990's, Shanghai and other cities have been making up for lost time. And this year the building boom is at a frenzy, with the nation expected to lay down the finishing blocks on 4.7 billion square feet or more of construction, a record, up from 2 billion in 1998.

"There's no doubt what is happening in parts of China is on a scale we've never seen before," said Richard Burdett, professor of architecture and urbanism at the London School of Economics. "But more importantly, it's the fastest pace of development in the past 50 or 100 years."

In Beijing, the remains of an old Taoist temple now stand in the middle of the parking lot of a new mall more than twice the size of the Mall of America. Big developers are acquiring huge swaths of prime land in the largest cities to build huge residential campuses with kitschy names like Cloudland Water Manor, Eastern Venice, Palais de Fortune and Skyway Oasis Garden.

Such developments dwarf anything being built today in the West. "I'm working on a master plan for a 46-kilometer riverfront area," said Robert Egan, who runs a landscape architecture firm in Beijing called PlaceMakers. "Scale like that doesn't happen in the U.S."

Click here for the rest of the article as well as informative slideshows, graphs and interactive features. China Builds Its Dreams, and Some Fear a Bubble - New York Times


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