Developer: Changsha Skyscraper Project On Track

The developer of a record-breaking skyscraper in is denying media reports that it had not received the necessary approvals to proceed with the project, according to the South China Morning Post:

Broad Group spokeswoman Zhu Linfang disputed a report that the company’s plan to build the world’s tallest building in just seven months had not received the requisite approval from Hunan’s Department of Housing and Urban-Rural Development.

The Xinhua report also raised doubts about whether the 838-metre Sky City could be completed by April as planned as the ground-breaking ceremony at the site only took place on Saturday.

Zhu said that the company had obtained all necessary government approvals as the project had progressed from one stage to another and that Broad Group expected the state news agency to correct its mistake.

“They have obviously obtained the information from an official who is not overseeing the project and who is unfamiliar with the progress,” she said.

Broad Group has boasted that the project will be completed in just 9 months through the use of modular construction, by prefabricating entire building levels off-site. Christopher Mims at Quartz wrote last month that the tower “will basically be a giant stack of trailer homes.” And while some have praised the development as revolutionary, the South China Morning Post reported on Tuesday that others have expressed serious safety concerns:

Yin Zhi , a professor of architecture at Tsinghua University and a senior adviser to the central government on urban planning, said that while “prefab” houses were common, a prefab skyscraper was “insane”.

His biggest worry was safety. “What about wind? Or earthquakes? Or a fire?” he asked.

Broad Group, the developer, has been tight-lipped about the building, saying its structure was a trade secret, Yin said.

“This is strange,” he said. “Buildings on such a scale always welcome peers to inspect the structure. But most people in the architecture community know nothing about this project.” [Source]

Bloomberg’s Adam Minter reported that the project has been met with skepticism on the mainland, including on Chinese :

On , China’s most popular microblogging platform, such skepticism has at times turned in an apocalyptic direction. On Sunday, Jiang Ruxiang, a Beijing-based management consultant and frequent commentator on economic and business issues for Chinese television, offered this over-the-top message: “An economic crisis is coming! 838 meters tall, 5.25 billion yuan! Offices on the 6th to 15th floors, apartments of different sizes on the 16th to 170th floors. Hotels on the 171st to 202nd floors. U.S., Japan and Dubai all built ‘tallest’ buildings before their economic crises. China is not an exception. Take care, Chinese companies! Economic crisis is coming!”

China’s newspaper commentators — many of whom write for Communist Party-owned venues — aren’t quite ready to cite Sky City as evidence that the country is due for divine retribution. They also don’t exactly share Zhang’s enthusiasm for skyscraper innovation. This is somewhat new: For years, China’s news media have been slavish boosters of the country’s pursuit of bigger and faster (if not better) infrastructurebuildings and events, uncritically promoting them as symbols of the country’s economic and diplomatic ascendance. The privately developed Sky City hasn’t enjoyed such praise.

Rather, the project appears to have become a convenient symbol of everything wrong with China’s pursuit of international recognition at the expense of more sensible development. On Sunday, the official Weibo account of People’s Daily, the mouthpiece of the Communist Party, offered a cautionary voice when it posted, “As China urbanizes, blindly opposing isn’t rational. But neither should we worship these increasingly high landmarks as if they’re totems.” [Source]