About the Largest Building in the World

New Century Global Center in Chengdu, Sichuan Province, China, 2013

Facade of the world's largest building, the New Century Global Center in Chengdu, China
Taylor Weidman/Getty Images

By architectural volume, the Boeing Everett Production Factory in Everett, Washington is still the world's largest building. In height, the Burj Khalifa in Dubai is the tallest skyscraper. By floor space, however, the 2013 New Century Global Center in Sichuan province is HUGE.

 

New Century Global Center in Chengdu, China

silver and glass facade, multiple curves
New Century Global Center. Taylor Weidman/Getty Images

At certain angles, it looks like the grill of a 1957 Cadillac. Or a rumpled glass mattress. Or a Chinese temple. Oliver Wainwright at The Guardian wrote that "the building squats like an overfed prize fowl."

Located in Chengdu, China, the New Century Global Center opened on July 1, 2013. It is said to have been built in 3 years by billionaire Deng Hong, Exhibition & Travel Group (ETG) China.

Its approximate size is 328 feet (100 meters) high, 1,640 feet (500 meters) long, and 1,312 feet (400 meters) wide. It has18,900,000 square feet (1,760,000 square meters) of floor space.

Mega projects are found throughout the world — distribution centers for the likes of Amazon and Target, rocket and aircraft assembly plants for NASA and Boeing, auto manufacturers, dry docks for ship builders, exhibition centers like the O2 Millennium Dome, and transportation hubs like Denver International Airport take up a lot of space. But the building known as "Global Center" is promoted as the largest freestanding building in the world. You can take a guided tour of the Boeing Factory, but you can actually LIVE (and play) in the New Century Global Center. Here's a short tour.

Inside the Global Center

people seem tiny as they walk through a massive interior
Inside the New Century Global Center, Chengdu, China. John Moore/Getty Images

The Global Center is multi-use architecture, designed as a destination — a small city, actually. Within its glass walls, underneath the 24-hour artificial sunlight, is everything a traveler needs:

  • two five-star hotels with "hot spring spots" and a variety of restaurant choices
  • both a sandy beach and a "first class ice ring"
  • an aquarium
  • "one of the largest fashion malls in China" in a Mediterranean style
  • 7.75 million square feet (720,000 square meters) of deluxe office space and conference centers, including advanced security, 16 entrances, above- and underground parking, and an environment "so intoxicating" that "business will become a way of life here"
  • 14 screen IMAX movie house
  • a water park with a pirate ship

When you enter the lobby — over 200 feet high (65 meters) high and over 100,000 square feet (10K square meters) in area — apparently you smell the sea.

Paradise Island Water Park

Interior arched steel ceiling over a large pool area with a huge video screen
Paradise Island Water Park. Taylor Weidman/Getty Images

Global Center developers are proud of the "artificial seawater" and the biggest "indoor artificial waves in the world." The promotional video declares that "the waves are powerful and exhilarating."

Above the artificial ocean is the "largest indoor LED display in the world," a way to parade digital scenery, 150 meters in length and about 40 meters high. In addition to projecting sunrises, sunsets, and "twilight afterglow," the display enhances the evening's "fantastic music and dance shows."

The city of Chengdu and its environs comprise millions of residents living and working hundreds of miles from the sea. This provincial capital is one of the most populated of inland China. The Paradise Island Water Park was expected to be an enticing local draw, if not a high-tech reward for party members of the People's Republic of China.

WhiteWater Family Raft Ride

large, yellow-orange water slide with a raft full of people
Family Raft Ride at the Paradise Island Water Park inside the New Century Global Center, Chengdu, China. Taylor Weidman/Getty Images (cropped)

The developer of the Global Center enlisted the Canadian company WhiteWater West Industries Ltd. to design the Paradise Island Water Park. The WhiteWater® company, "the original waterpark & attractions company," has a menu of products from which to choose. New Century Global Center includes AquaPlay Rain Fortress, Abyss, Family Raft Ride, Whizzard, AquaLoop, Ropes Course, Freefall Plus, AquaTube, Wave River, and Double FlowRider.®

Surf's Up Inside the Global Center

two people, one with a surfboard, near a blue incline with rushing surf water - hotel in background
The Surf Simulator at the Paradise Island Water Park inside the largest building in the world, the New Century Global Center, Chengdu, China. Taylor Weidman/Getty Images (cropped)

TheNew Century Global Center in Chengdu, China is hundreds of miles from the ocean surf — the real ocean surf. This simulator, however, allows visitors to practice their balance and get the feel of a continuous wave. Even if you don't have a chance to choose the wave, you can get some exercise. The surf is always up at Paradise Island Water Park.

Rolling on the Lazy River

Rafting on a river that runs through the Paradise Island Water Park inside the New Century Global Center in Chengdu, China
Taylor Weidman/Getty Images (cropped)

Under the glass sky of the Global Center, the Paradise Island Water Park includes 1312 feet (400 meters) of artificial coastline and 1640 feet (500 meters) of river rafting. The promotional video says the Center provides "a platform through which the new god-favored land communicates with the world."

The Color of Harmony

red, yellow, blue, and green water slides with people enjoying the slide
Water Slides at the Paradise Island Water Park inside the New Century Global Center. Taylor Weidman/Getty Images (cropped)

Colorful tubes and water roller coaster slides give the Paradise Island Water Park the look of an indoor carnival. The Global Center is promoted as offering "harmony, openness, broad-mindedness, and approachability to the people."

Rooms with a View

Hotel rooms overlook the artificial beach
Hotel Exterior at the New Century Global Center in Chengdu, China. Taylor Weidman/Getty Images (cropped)

The Intercontinental Chengdu Global Center is the hotel chain within the largest building on earth. Rooms overlook the sandy beach, just like the real thing. Easily book a room from an online service like hotels.com or orbitz.com, but then you'll have to travel to the middle of China to enjoy.

Chengdu in Sichuan province is often cited as a more laid back city than its East Coast sisters. For years its been known for the Chengdu Panda Base, a research and breeding facility for the giant panda. Americans may recognize the province more for its cuisine. As part of the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN), Chengdu is a City of Gastronomy.

Developing the Global Center was an attempt to bring Chengdu into the 21st century, "transforming Chengdu into a world-class, modern city of idyllic beauty." It was promoted as a "tourist destination where history and modernism harmonize."

At the beginning of China's prosperous 21st century, Chengdu sought to be "looked upon by the world with respect." Can architecture command respect? It's been done before. The Greeks built their temples, a classical architecture revived by Wall Street.

A First-Class Ice Ring

children ice skating indoors
Indoor Ice Rink at the New Century Global Center in Chengdu, China. John Moore/Getty Images

The New Century Global Center, with a self-contained climate, is a world unto itself. A visitor can shop in a Mediterranean style village, take in the surf and sand in a salty breeze, lounge beneath palm trees filled with colorful stuffed exotic birds, and then go ice skating.

The New Century Global Center is part of a larger building project for the city of Chengdu, China. A central plaza called the New Century Plaza is "both graceful and majestic in design" connecting the Global Center with a contemporary museum designed by Pritzker Laureate Zaha Hadid. The New Century City Art Centre, set off by musical fountains in the Plaza, may be the only "architecture" of note. If you're no fan of Hadid's work, the entire New Century complex may be considered a big waste of money by a corrupt developer and an over-eager government too flush with cash.

Learn More:

Corruption, Pollution, Inequality Are Top Concerns in China by Richard Wike and Bridget Parker, Pew Research Center, September 24, 2015

Corruption and the world's biggest building by Malcolm Moore, The Telegraph, September 13, 2013

Shadowy Chinese billionaire behind world's largest building vanishes amid corruption scandal by Malcolm Moore, The Telegraph at nationalpost.com, September 14, 2013

The Future of Chengdu

Pollution and traffic are part of the life in Chengdu, China in 2015
Pollution and traffic are part of the life in Chengdu, China in 2015. Photo by John Moore/Getty Images News Collection/Getty Images

The Paradise Island Water Park and the New Century Plaza are commercial draws that make the Global Center a destination. However, in a 2015 travel article in The New York Times, travel writer Justin Bergman does not even mention the destination if you had "36 Hours in Chengdu, China."

The site's promotional video declares that Chengdu "has taken its first step towards internationalization in the course of becoming a world class modern city of idyllic beauty."  A transportation network, including direct access by bus, subways, and a beltway of superhighways, keeps the biggest building in the world "seemlessly connected."  Now if Chengdu could do something about its pollution....

Or maybe that's the real intent behind the biggest building in the world. The New Century Global Center may be the prototype "bubble" we live in when the Earth is no longer habitable.

Sources

  • Largest building in the world opens in China – complete with indoor seaside by Oliver Wainwright, The Guardian, July 9, 2013; "The largest building in the world: New Century Global Center in Chengdu" by GoChengdoo, YouTube, Published on October 9, 2012 [accessed February 9, 2016]
  • "The largest building in the world: New Century Global Center in Chengdu" by GoChengdoo, YouTube, Published on October 9, 2012 [accessed February 9, 2016]
  • "The largest building in the world: New Century Global Center in Chengdu" by GoChengdoo, YouTube, Published on October 9, 2012 [accessed February 9, 2016]
  • Paradise Island Waterpark Featured Project, WhiteWater website [accessed February 9, 2016]
  • "The largest building in the world: New Century Global Center in Chengdu" by GoChengdoo, YouTube, Published on October 9, 2012 [accessed February 9, 2016]
  • "The largest building in the world: New Century Global Center in Chengdu" by GoChengdoo, YouTube, Published on October 9, 2012 [accessed February 9, 2016]
  • "The largest building in the world: New Century Global Center in Chengdu" by GoChengdoo, YouTube, Published on October 9, 2012 [accessed February 9, 2016]
  • 36 Hours in Chengdu, China by Justin Bergman, The New York Times, July 1, 2015; "The largest building in the world: New Century Global Center in Chengdu" by GoChengdoo, YouTube, Published on October 9, 2012 [accessed February 10, 2016]