Home of giant pandas look to go big elsewhere
The New Century Global Centre which has opened for business in the Sichuan provincial capital. PHOTOGRAPH: STR/AFP/GETTY IMAGES
A few weeks back Asia Briefing reported from Chengdu on the remarkable progress that city has been making in transforming itself into a hub in the west of China and a symbol of development there.
Well, Chengdu has another superlative to add to its growing collection – the world’s biggest building. The New Century Global Centre has opened for business in the Sichuan provincial capital.
It may not be the tallest building, but the centre is absolutely massive, the largest freestanding building in the world, capable of housing 20 Sydney Opera Houses, and almost three times the size of the Pentagon in Washington, DC
The monster structure is 500m long, 400m wide and 100m high, and sprawls over 1.7 million square metres in an area of Chengdu, the Tianfu New District, that is being constructed as part of the city’s plans to boost its international profile.
Chicago architects Adrian Smith and Gordon Gill have been given the task of building the 1.3sq km sustainable city that will host the new building, while British architect Zaha Hadid built the Chengdu Contemporary Arts Centre nearby.
It has offices, hotels, theatres, shopping malls and even a Mediterranean-style village within its precincts. And a water park called Paradise Island.
For a long time, Chengdu’s biggest selling point was the panda bear beloved as China’s national symbol, which lives in the countryside around the city. But these days the city authorities love to trump their own panda stories with tales of the city’s stated ambition of becoming the Silicon Valley of China.
Anything between half and two thirds of the iPads sold worldwide are assembled in Chengdu, while the computer giant Intel makes up to half of its chips in the city.