China opens city-sized shopping mall, with fake sun

If you don't care about authenticity, the New Century Global Center has everything you could want, including an artificial Mediterranean village.

New Century Global Center
The New Century Global Center (top) looms over the Export-Import Bank of China in Chengdu, in southwest China's Sichuan province. STR/AFP/Getty Images

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.

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.

The gargantuan pleasure dome took some three years to build. It has a distinct wavelike roof of girders and glass that might evoke London's Crystal Palace of yore.

Built for the Great Exhibition of 1851, that august structure was only 22 acres large but was preserved in various forms for some 85 years. With China's frenetic pace of growth, one wonders if the New Century Global Center will last for even 10.

 

New Century Global Centre
STR/AFP/Getty Images

Update, 3:30 p.m. PT: As our astute reader Joel points out, Boeing's Everett Factory in Everette, Wash., has the largest footprint in the world; the New Century Global Center seems to have the greatest floor space. The headline and text of this story have been updated to reflect the clarification.

 

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