Monday, March 19, 2012

Great NYT Article to Complement "Ghost Towns"

Western architects are flocking to China, and have been for some time, because there's so much building going on there (and very little in the U.S.) and because the speed and flexibility is so much greater. There are landmark "status projects" (e.g. Bird's nest and China Central Television Tower), but much of the building is being done as quickly and cheaply as possible. Many of these designers are young and less experienced or even unlicensed, but this is not a barrier in China. The article follows a few young, U.S. architects who moved to China over the past few years - some with a job, and some without. Some find themselves playing a new role, often providing the creative inspiration that wins a job, but being left in the dark as the project winds through China's murky real estate development process.

The article also raises questions about the long term sustainability of much of this boom, from a social point of view as well as simply a concern about the quality of construction. There's a pretty amazing description of an in-progress commercial property in Chengdu: Under a single roof covering an area of about 25 football fields, Ocean Park is designed to include hotels, shopping malls, aquariums, amusement parks and a simulated ocean with a white-sand beach. (The ultimate “Truman Show” touch: the 660-foot-wide video screen that will allow beachgoers to enjoy brilliant digital sunsets, even when clouds and pollution block the real thing.)

Some may recall a similar migration of professionals, including architects and engineers, to Dubai which ended, in 2009, with a mass exodus, as the government started clamping down on foreigners when their economy went South. See the following for article from that time: and just for fun, here's a video of a bunch of abandoned luxury cars and supercars in Dubai from that time:

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