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Tall Tales


For those living in Wuhan, capital of Hubei Province, the end of 2010 brought big news when the ground was broken for the 606-meter-tall Wuhan Greenland International Financial Center, planned to become the third tallest structure in the world. If completed today, it would be the world’s second tallest building, eclipsed only by Dubai’s 828-meter-tall Burj Khalifa, but Shanghai is currently building a 632-meter tower, which will make the Wuhan building rank number three. Its developer, Shanghai-based Greenland Group, has plans for the multifunctional property to include high-end hotels, a conference center, shopping areas, and apartments.

Fueled by economic progress and the honor such magnificent structures bring, more and more Chinese cities are finding ways to raise skyscrapers, a direct and plain method to demonstrate their internationalization. Skyscraper fever is more of a social mentality than an architectural phenomenon.

Love for Skyscrapers

The Chinese love affair with super high-rise buildings can be traced back decades. When Shanghai Park Hotel was completed in October 1933, it was inarguably the tallest building in Asia. The hotel included 24 floors, although two were underground, and it reached 84 meters into the sky, 11 meters taller than the Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation building, then the tallest in Hong Kong. For 50 years, the hotel remained the tallest in Shanghai.

Over time, Shanghai’s skyline has changed more than residents of 1933 could imagine. On August 30, 2008, the Shanghai World Financial Center opened as scheduled. The 492-meter structure with 101 floors towers over surrounding paltry buildings. Although currently the tallest in Shanghai, its title won’t be held for long, as the 632-meter-tall Shanghai Tower is scheduled to be completed in 2013.

Super-tall skyscraper obsession is spreading in other Chinese cities.

At the end of 2008, ground was broken for the Chongqing International Trade Center, in which 8 billion yuan would be invested. Unless competing plans emerge, the 455-meter-tall tower will be the tallest building in western China when it is completed in 2015.

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