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Thursday, February 24, 2011

World's Most Outrageous Construction Projects

Shawn Conner | Image: Imre Solt
 
Dubai The World

Charting the world's construction projects with the biggest scope and the price tags to match.

From the great pyramids of Egypt to the temples of the Aztecs to the detoxification of Charlie Sheen, man has never shied away from undertaking huge, near-impossible projects.

In the still-young 21st century, this means taller, longer, and with more shopping.

The following list of the world’s largest construction projects was compiled based on environmental impact, cost, and sheer epic scope. Many were planned and started before the worldwide economic recession; some are paying the price, while others may not have been such a bright idea in the first place. If you don’t look too closely, a few of these massive undertakings even seem designed to benefit humanity.

One thing is for sure – they all seem like a massive headache for everyone concerned.
 

Image: Flickr / elqomri

9. Burj Khalifa: The Dubai Tower

HOW MUCH?
US$1.5 billion.
WHAT IS IT?
At 2,717 feet (828 metres) tall the Burj Khalifa, or Burj Dubai, is the world’s tallest building. Construction began in 2004 and ended last year; the skyscraper houses office space and residencies.
THE DOWNSIDE?
The Burj Khalifa’s construction coincided with the global financial crisis, and the government was forced to borrow from its neighbour Abu Dhabi. Like the Olympic Village in Vancouver, a majority of the residences remain vacant. 
 

Image: Flickr / Vincent Desjardins

8. New York City: One World Trade Center

HOW MUCH?
US$3.1 billion.
WHAT IS IT?
One World Trade Center is the tallest building in the U.S. and the main edifice of the new World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan. Construction on the new office building began in 2006 and is expected to be completed by 2012, and ready for occupancy the following year. As you might expect, nearly everything about this building, which is also a memorial to 9/11, has been controversial, including the name; some were referring to it as “the Freedom Tower” but it is now officially One World Trade Center.
THE DOWNSIDE?
Some might wonder whether another towering office building is what’s needed in the area. These people would be left-wing, bleeding-heart wimps.
 

Image: Flickr / stepnout

7. Dubai: Dubailand

HOW MUCH?
Dubai has collected US$6 billion from private investors . . . and that’s just for Phase I (four phases of development are planned).
WHAT IS IT?
Hey, Dubai! Quit showing off! We get it already, you’re an oil-rich country and you don’t know what to do with all that money. But would it kill you to be a little more discreet? At three billion square feet, this is the largest collection of theme parks in the world.
Dubailand is part of Dubai’s effort to diversity from an oil-based economy and expand its tourism industry. When – and if – it is ever completed, the project will include a Legoland, Dreamworks Studios Theme Park, Marvel Superheroes Theme Park and Tiger Woods Dubai (a proposed Tiger Woods-designed golf course and residential development), among other entertainment options.
THE DOWNSIDE?
North American comic-book fans will have to travel thousands of miles to get to the Marvel Superheroes Theme Park.
 

Image: Flickr / antonello_mangano

6. Italy: Strait of Messina Bridge

HOW MUCH?
US$8 billion, including cover charges, two-drink minimums, and “tips.”
WHAT IS IT?
A 3.3-kilometre bridge linking Sicily to the Italian mainland.
THE DOWNSIDE?
The on-again, off-again, on-again project has been plagued with controversy, including fears that much of the money would be diverted to the Sicilian and Calabrian mafias, which control most public works projects in the south of Italy. Prime Minister Berlusconi denies this is the case, saying that if any money is diverted it will be to the country’s population of 18-year-old nightclub dancers.
 

Image: Flickr / SheepGuardingLlama

5. Las Vegas: CityCenter

HOW MUCH?
US$9.2 billion.

WHAT IS IT?

At 16,797,000-square-feet, CityCenter is the largest privately funded construction project in U.S. history. This multi-use plaza ate up the last remaining real estate on the Las Vegas strip. MGM Resorts International began the project – described as “a city within a city” with its hotels, casinos, retail and dining and entertainment facilities – and investment fund Dubai World became an equal partner in an effort. Because the Vegas strip wasn’t gaudy enough.
THE DOWNSIDE?
Since construction began in 2006, six construction workers have died, making CityCenter one of the most lethal projects this side of Spider Man on Broadway.
 

Image: Flickr / Imre Solt

4. Dubai: The World

HOW MUCH?
US$18 billion, according to a 2005 estimate.
WHAT IS IT?
“The World” is a reproduction of the Earth made out of islands. But why make it? If you’re the ruler of Dubai the question is more like, “Why not?” It was Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum’s idea to construct a rough shape of the world map using artificial islands, which would then be sold for development (resorts, etc.). The thing is, according to Wikipedia, The World is just “one of several artificial island developments in Dubai,” begging the question of just what it is they’re smoking over there.
THE DOWNSIDE?
As of last year, only a single island had any type of building on it – a show home. All the other projects having been cancelled or delayed either due to the 2008 financial crisis or people coming to their senses. And, while the developer and Dubai government deny it, a participant in a related lawsuit has alleged that the islands are also sinking back into the sea.
 

Image: Flickr / slumber.six

3. Soundouping, China: Three Gorges Dam

HOW MUCH?
Over US$22.5 billion by the time the last farmer is displaced.
WHAT IS IT?
The world’s largest hydroelectric power station. When completed in 2012, Three Gorges Dam will supply 10 per cent of China’s energy. The dam also increases the Yangtze River’s shipping capacity and reduces both coal consumption and the potential for flooding.
THE DOWNSIDE?
The dam flooded archaeological and cultural sites and displaced 1.3 million people. It is also causing significant ecological changes, including an increase in the risk of landslides. On the plus side, when the project is completed, workers making Gap clothing for 12 cents per hour will be able to see what they’re doing.
 

Image: Flickr / lee_in_the_sun

2. Abu Dhabi: Yas Island

HOW MUCH?
US$40 billion.
WHAT IS IT?
A 25-square-mile island resort with a Formula One racetrack, an arena, theme parks (Ferrari World, Warner Bros), three golf courses, polo fields, hotels (seven and counting) and just about anything else you care to name, including an IKEA.
The idea was announced in 2006, and developer Aldar Properties completed Phase I in 2008. Perhaps Aldar, an Abu Dhabi company, felt the need to compete with Dubai, Abu Dhabi’s showier neighbour to the north. There’s no end in sight for the entire project, though 2014 and 2018 have been suggested.

THE DOWNSIDE?

To protect the island’s surrounding ecosystem, Aldar has pledged “support to Emirates Wildlife Society,” plant mangroves and monitor water quality. And we all know how eco-friendly Formula One racetracks are.
 

Image: Flickr / NASAGoddard Photo & Video

1. Outer Space: ISS (International Space Station)

HOW MUCH?
Over $100 billion, making it the most expensive object ever constructed – after Michael Jackson’s nose.
WHAT IS IT?
A space station. Forget about earthbound construction projects and farmers schlepping dirt away to make canals. Sixteen nations have banded together in constructing the ISS in low-earth orbit, where teams of astronauts research cool stuff and eat food out of tubes. In-orbit construction on the ISS began in 1998 and completion is scheduled for the end of this year; it will remain operational until at least 2015.
THE DOWNSIDE?
Critics contend that the time and money spent on the ISS could be better spent on other projects, like robotic spacecraft missions, space exploration, or sending James Cameron to Mars.

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