In yet another testament to China’s rapid economic rise, the southwestern city of Chengdu has just become home to the world’s largest freestanding structure. The New Century Global Center, which opened on July 1, contains a staggering 1.76 million square meters of floor space. It is roughly 500 meters long, 400 meters wide, and 100 meters tall – large enough to contain 20 Sydney Opera Houses or three Pentagons. The New Century Global Center dwarfs the previous title-holder of world’s largest building, Dubai International Airport Terminal 3, by approximately 500,000 square feet.
Almost as impressive as the sheer size is the fact that the New Century Global Center took only three years to erect. The ambitious project contains typical high-end shopping centers, offices, and two five-star hotels. With all that space, the New Century Global Center has also managed to squeeze in a university complex, a 14-screen IMAX movie theater, a replica of a Mediterranean village, a professional ice-skating rink, and a massive water park called Paradise Island.
"This is an ocean city built by man," said Liu Xun, a New Century Global Center guide, in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald. "There will be 1,000 rooms (in the hotel) and all will have seaside views."
The enormous artificial beach contained in the New Century Global Center’s glass walls is more than 1,000km from the nearest real ocean. However, thanks to a sophisticated LED screen, the Center’s beach can recreate perfect sunrises and sunsets regardless of the actual weather outside.
“We have borrowed a Japanese technique. There will be an artificial sun that will shine 24 hours a day and allow for a comfortable temperature,” Liu said. “The system uses specialized lighting technology that heats as well as illuminates.”
The New Century Global Center is situated above a new subway station. Across the street, the 500,000 square-foot Chengdu Contemporary Arts Center, designed by British-Iraqi architect Zaha Hadid, is currently under construction. It will house an aquarium, a shopping center, a museum, a conference center, and three auditoriums. The main auditorium will be able to seat 2,004 people. It is the result of a 2007 design competition, and it is set to be completed in 2014. A new airport is also scheduled for completion in 2020.
Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan province, is home to a population of over 14 million. According to the official Chengdu investment website, “In 2010, Forbes magazine predicted that Chengdu would be the fastest growing city in the world over the then incipient decade. A survey in Fortune magazine focusing on foreign investment suggested Chengdu as the leading city in China on the fronts of business costs, labor supply, quality of life, and integrated commercial environment.”
Images of New Century Global Center can be seen here.