Monday, February 20, 2006

The 'Blade Runner' City of the Future Arrives Elsewhere

by Tom Bozzo

It may have been a Flight of Fancy for the "Blade Runner" designers to suggest that mid-twenty-first century Los Angeles might look like this. However, it would be remiss, not to mention overly North America-centric of me, to fail to mention that there are far-flung cities turning into forests of futuristic skyscrapers almost overnight. Case in point: The United Arab Emirates.

Pluvialis describes the phenomenon at Fretmarks (*):
I love the way that Emirates projects like this seem totally pie in the sky. Until they're built. Quietly, the future appears, and just sits there. While we in the UK fret over faux-georgian shopping centres, someone builds an underwater hotel. Or a kilometre-long hotel with a ballroom the size of Wembley stadium. With unlimited financial resources, a tradition of spectacular display, an unconcern about matching vernacular architecture and a desire to create a city of the future, Dubai's baroque modernism grows and grows. It all seems unstoppable; reminiscent of the nanotech assemblers of The Diamond Age or Mona Lisa Overdrive.
And, sure enough, the Dubai skyline could look like this five or six years from now:

Which shows two towers taller than 700 meters, compared to l'edefice le plus élevé au monde at a mere 553M over there in Anglo Canada. One, the stepped-back tower in the background a bit right of center, is the Burj Dubai, planned for 705M but which may reach nearly a kilometer. Its core is presently about thirty stories out of the ground. The foreground tower is a possible 750M competitor called Al Burj.

Two additional factors deserve mention: Apparent unconcern about the security ramifications of super-tall buildings — see Freedom Tower — and a supply of inexpensive macroassemblers, more commonly known as cheap labor. The upshot of the latter is that the Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill-designed Burj Dubai will get to 705M or better for about what some bad-hair guy's in-progress SOM-designed addition to the Chicago skyline will cost to reach about 345M (to the roof; add 70M for the spire).

Local pride does make part of me hope that the Calatrava-designed Fordham Spire survives any landing of indeterminate hardness for the near North Side condo market, even though it isn't so much as 500M to the roof.

Addendum: Darn, almost forgot about the Space Adventures spaceport.

(*) Located while clicking through newer blog pal Xtin's sidebar.
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