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Monday, September 22, 2008

The Next Big Things

From the half-mile-tall Burj Dubai to a 16-deck cruise ship with its very own Central Park—these eight coming attractions caught our imagination and got us thinking big about the future.

| Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Where: Mumbai, India
See it in: 2010
The Cybertecture Egg is an office building with a mind of its own. It's designed as an interactive space that learns from its occupants. The egg's cutting-edge bathrooms, for example, monitor each person's vital signs, such as blood pressure and weight—and forward the info to a physician if the numbers don't look good. The egg cares about conservation, too: The 13-floor, ovoid building with a single flat side will gather some of its energy from solar panels and wind turbines; an indoor garden will provide natural cooling.

Where: Arlington, Tex.
See it in: 2010
Finally, a truly Texas-size stadium for Texas. Cowboys' owner Jerry Jones asked architects for a modern-day Roman Colosseum; architecture firm HKS obliged with this massive structure. The $1 billion project takes "more is better" as its creed: The finished stadium will be home to more than 280 concession stands and should seat 80,000 fans on game day. The playing surface will be bracketed by the tallest retractable glass doors in the world, which will open like massive garages onto two outdoor pavilions. Suspended above it all like an omniscient football god, the largest video screen in the world will command spectators' attention, replaying game highlights in images 180 feet long and 50 feet high.

Where: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
See it in: 2009
Leave it to ambitious, ever-expanding Dubai to take a quantum leap in the building of skyscrapers. The Burj Dubai will soar to the almost unimaginable height of about a half mile; the precise dimensions have been a closely guarded secret since construction began in 2004. The architectural community expects the building to top out at 160 floors and roughly 2,600 feet—almost 1,000 feet higher than the current tallest building in the world, Taipei 101 in Taiwan. For a view of Dubai and its surroundings, the 124th floor is your best bet: Architects plan a public observation deck at the breathtaking height of 1,450 feet.

Where: Beijing, China
See it in: 2009
At 682 feet high, the Beijing Great Wheel will be the world's tallest observation wheel—239 feet taller than the London Eye. Rides will last about 30 minutes, and each bus-size capsule will carry up to 40 passengers, a good size for private events or parties. The 48 capsules will remain horizontal as the wheel completes its revolution, turning slowly enough that passengers can board while the wheel's in motion. At the pinnacle of this spectacular new attraction, riders will be able to peer into the distant past: The Great Wall of China will be visible from over 40 miles away.

Where: Moscow, Russia
See it in: 2012
Moscow's Russia Tower will soon be the tallest building in Europe. When completed, the sleek, tapered structure is projected to stand 2,009 feet tall. In comparison, Chicago's Sears Tower, the tallest building in the U.S., seems underwhelming at 1,451 feet. This massive new building on Moscow's outskirts, designed around an open "green" spine, will be the largest naturally ventilated building in the world.

Where: On the waters
See it in: 2009
This 220,000-ton cruise ship won't set sail until December 12, 2009, but it's already garnering lots of attention. The 16-deck Oasis of the Seas is big enough to support seven distinct neighborhoods—and to still find room for the largest freshwater pool at sea, two rock-climbing walls, and a zip line suspended nine decks (about 67 feet) above the ship's boardwalk. One neighborhood, called Central Park, is a living, breathing space on the high seas: The park's grass and trees are the real thing, and visitors can stop and smell the flowers on their way to the sculpture garden. Bring a Frisbee.

Where: New York, N.Y.
See it in: Around 2012
When you're trying to reimagine the world's most recognized skyline—and memorialize the terrorist attacks of 9/11—change can be slow. The 69-floor Freedom Tower, which will anchor Lower Manhattan, has no definitive opening date. When completed, it will measure a symbolic 1,776 feet (with antennae). The 16-acre site will be home to three other skyscrapers and a much-debated 9/11 memorial dominated by two huge, recessed pools in the footprints of the original Twin Towers. The names of all 2,980 victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York, Washington, D.C., and Somerset County, Penn., will be etched around the pools' edges.

Where: Space (or close to it)
See it in: 2010
Richard Branson's new brainchild, Virgin Galactic, will blast regular tourists into suborbital space. Despite the steep $200,000 price tag for the two-and-a-half hour flight, 65,000 prospective passengers from over 125 countries have already registered. The six-seat commercial spacecraft will take off from an airfield in California until 2012, and then shift its base of operations to the world's first custom-designed private spaceport, Spaceport America, in Sierra County, N.M. If you take the trip, be sure to bring your camera. You'll be able to see 1,000 miles in any direction when you get to the cruising altitude of more than 360,000 feet—that's about 55 miles higher than today's commercial flights.