Friday, August 30, 2013

Chengdu's Huge New Mall, and a Musing Lemming

(From ETGCN, via International Business Times, used w/o permission.)
"Inside the shopping area of the New Century Global Center."

"World's Largest Building, New Century Global Center, Opens In Chengdu, China"
Mark Johanson, International Business Times (July 01 2013)

"Whenever you're talking about the world's biggest, largest, tallest or fastest, chances are China is somehow involved. After all, the People's Republic boasts the world's biggest shopping mall and museum, tallest statue and highest observation deck, among other superlatives. And, as of this week, you can add the world's largest freestanding building to the growing list.

"The New Century Global Center in Chengdu, in Sichuan in western China, is so big that it's got its own artificial sun. Indeed, at 500 meters (1,640 feet) long, 400 meters (1,310 feet) wide and 100 meters (325 feet) high, it's massive enough to hold 20 Sydney Opera Houses or three Pentagons, according to local authorities.

"Of course, you won't find any Sydney Opera Houses or Pentagons inside this 1.76 million-square-meter (18.94 million-square-foot) space. The colossal structure, which opened June 28 under the management of Exhibition and Travel Group, is like an enclosed town, with businesses, offices, shopping malls, theaters, two five-star hotels, a skating rink and even a water park called Paradise Island with an “indoor beach.” The New Century Global Center also boasts a faux Mediterranean village, following the bizarre trend in China for copycat European towns...."

Mark Johanson's article is fairly upbeat, which is just as well since it's in IBT's Media & Culture/Travel section. When was the last time you read something unglowing in that a 'places to go' publication?

That said, the Lemming's impressed with Chengdu's new shopping mall. It's not just big: architects did a good job of making it look good. In the Lemming's opinion.

Where Chengdu's new shopping mall goes in lists of 'world's biggest shopping malls' will depend on who makes the list. Minnesota's Mall of America is 23rd in a 'biggest shopping malls' list on Wikipedia.

That's because whoever put the list together didn't count an amusement park that's inside the mall. Credit where credit is due: there's a notation that the Mall of America would be #11 on the list, if all the interior space counted.

The West Edmonton Mall, several hours north and west of the Lemming, is big, too: and was the biggest in the world until 2004. These days the really big shopping malls are in Asia and the southwestern Pacific, and that's almost another topic.

Marine Theme for an Inland Mall, and Smog

(From ETGCN, via International Business Times, used w/o permission.)
"The hotel rooms are seen in the New Century Global Center."

"The exterior of the new mega-structure is shaped like a wave, while the interior has a marine theme, despite the fact that the nearest ocean is some 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) away. The Japanese-designed artificial sun, meanwhile, will shine 24 hours a day and offer a welcome respite from the thick smog that typically blankets Chengdu's streets.

"The building forms the centerpiece of a recently developed area known as Tainfu New District on the outskirts of Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan. Like many Chinese megacities, this hub of 14 million is rapidly expanding, with a growing subway system and a new airport planned for 2020.

"Officials had hoped to have the New Century Global Center completed in time for a global forum hosted by the U.S. magazine Fortune that brought presidents and CEOs of some of the world's largest companies to the city for two days in early June. That didn't pan out, but the government isn't shy about its desire for Chengdu to become the economic capital of western China. Chengdu's GDP reached 800 billion RMB ($130.48 billion) by the end of 2012, according to state media, ranking it third among China's sub-provincial cities...."
(Mark Johanson, International Business Times)

"Not shy" is a pretty good way to describe a promotional video the Lemming found. The audio isn't distorted, but you might want to turn the volume down before playing it:
Chengdu probably does have smog. China has been running its industrial and commercial development in fast-forward, and may better air-quality standards in a few years. Then again, maybe not.

The Lemming decided to settle outside metropolitan areas, partly because the air is cleaner out here. Most of the time, anyway. Now and then a manure pit's turned when the wind is just right, and a very organic fragrance permeates the Lemming's abode. More topics.

Another View of a Smoggy, Phoney,  . . . You Get the Idea

(From STR/AFP/Getty Images, via CNET, used w/o pemission.)
"The New Century Global Center (top) looms over the Export-Import Bank of China in Chengdu, in southwest China's Sichuan province."
"China opens city-sized shopping mall, with fake sun"
Tim Hornyak, CNET (July 3, 2013)

" The international tallest building arms race has been dominated by Dubai, with its Burj Khalifa, for several years, but China has upped the ante by unveiling what it calls the world's largest building.

"The New Century Global Center building opened recently in Chengu, a city of more than 14 million people in southwest China's Sichuan province. It's described as 'the world's largest standalone structure' by Chinese officials and is 328 feet high, 1,640 feet long, and 1,312 feet wide.

"While Boeing's plant in Everett, Wash., is the world's biggest building by volume, the Chinese mall seems to be tops in floor space. Almost the area of Monaco, its 420 acres of floor space could fit nearly three Pentagons, four Vatican Cities, or 20 Sydney Opera Houses.

"The cavernous structure will feature a mix of retail outlets, a 14-screen movie theater, a university complex, offices, hotels, a water park called Paradise Island, a skating rink that's big enough to host international competitions, a pirate ship, 15,000 parking spots, and even a fake Mediterranean village...."

Did the Lemming mention that the New Century Global Center is huge? That's a common denominator in these articles. Also the smog.

Given time, the Lemming thinks that China's leadership will get around to cleaning up their country's air. That's not just empty optimism. The powers that be over there seem to have decided that putting China back on the map for world commerce is a good idea.

If they don't know that folks notice smog now, they soon will. "Soon" by the Lemming's standards, anyway.


"...Oh, and there's an artificial beach, too.

"But the ersatzery doesn't stop there. While Chengdu's factories, which include a Foxconn plant that turns out Apple gizmos, regularly contribute to the city's smog problem, visitors will enjoy an artificial sun that gives off light and heat 24 hours a day and a 164-yard-long LED screen serving as a stand-in for the horizon...."

Tim Hornyak can't seem to get over the artificiality of Chengdu's new megabuilding.

Artificial light, air at a controlled temperature, and efforts to make indoors feel like outdoors doesn't bother the Lemming quite so much. But then, the Lemming lives in Minnesota, where water is a mineral for several months each year. "Artificial" and "habitable" are far from mutually incompatible here. Yet more topics.

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