Monday, April 12, 2010

Shanghai's Future Concrete Graveyard

As we read about the upcoming Shanghai Expo, we're constantly amazed by the seemingly unreal scale of construction. The city has spent US$45 billion to prepare for scores of pavilions to be spread out over 1,300 acres and welcome some 70 million visitors over six months. And many of the pavilions are massive works of architecture in and of themselves, costing some countries well over a hundred million dollars, like Japan's "Purple Silkworm", which has a price tag of US$133 million.

Many compare this massive investment to Beijing's preparations for the 2008 Summer Olympics. But what many fail to ask is, like Beijing's ghost stadiums today, what happens to all of these concrete mammoths when the Expo is over? Some will be reduced to whence they came, like the UK's pavilion, which will be distributed in pieces to UK and Chinese schools.

Others, though, are built permanently. The hope is that it will bring people to Shanghai for years to come, hoping to glance at the legacy of the the largest World Expo in history. But empty buildings will only retain their energy for so long, and the initial wonder will die off as Oct. 31 fades into the past.

One hopes that city officials in Shanghai, compared to their Beijing counterpart, have a better long-term transition plan for their two-square mile concrete graveyard.

This was first published on RealClearWorld.

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