EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

September 3, 2013

Column: With 202 floors, one hopes the elevators work

Dale McFeatters
The Eagle-Tribune

---- — Compiling lists of defective Chinese-made products has become almost a cottage industry on the Internet — defective or tainted paint, medicine, pet food, toothpaste, baby formula, toys, seafood, vitamins, food additives and tires.

Unlike harmful products, China through no fault of its own is earthquake prone. But China is a big country and the chances of any individual being affected are statistically very low, which is what they told the people in Washington, D.C., until an earthquake cracked the Washington Monument, which is still shrouded and closed for repairs.

By the way, there was an earthquake in Thursday and Friday in Yunnan that damaged or collapsed over 13,000 houses.

That’s why the news that China, in its quest for superlatives, is planning to take only four months next year to erect the world’s tallest skyscraper, the 2,740-foot “Sky City.” Work has already begun on the foundation for the 202-story building.

The builders hope to achieve the quick construction by using prefabricated parts build offsite and then snapped into place, rather like giant Legos. The very top floors would house a hotel while the rest of the building would be apartments, priced by altitude.

From floors 121 to 170 the apartments would range from 2,592 square feet to 5,616 square feet, decreasing in size until floors 16 to 30 with 648 square foot apartments. The 20th floor might not be a prestigious address but at least you would have a fighting chance of making it home if the elevators went out.

The Chinese have become hypercompetitive with the Persian Gulf when it comes to skyscrapers. Sky City may hold the title for world’s tallest building for only five years, until Saudi Arabia finishes the Kingdom Tower, which is to be 532 feet higher.

But second thoughts and fears of a real estate bubble have crept in. The Communist Party newspaper, the People’s Daily, griped that, “The vanity of some local government officials has determined the skylines of cities.”

The Daily noted acidly that the Empire State Building, which took just over a year to build, took about two decades to fill with tenants and become a commercial success.

Dale McFeatters writes for the Scripps Howard News Service.