From ARCHITECT February 2014:
A supremely ambitious real-estate developer and entrepreneur named Zhang Yue, who made his fortune outfitting new buildings with air-conditioning units in Shanghai, Beijing, and other cities, is hoping to build the world’s tallest tower in just four months by relying on a proprietary prefab system. His Sky City project—meant to rise 202 stories, beating out the Burj Khalifa in Dubai for the title of tallest on Earth by 30 feet—has received a windfall of coverage in the Western press, much of it justifiably skeptical.
The start of construction has been delayed several times, and engineering experts have cast doubt on Zhang’s claim that using a prefab system will slice building costs on the tower in half, compared with traditional methods, to an estimated $1.5 billion. Bureaucrats at the highest levels of the Chinese government in Beijing are said to be reviewing the building plans, or possibly holding them hostage. After scandals involving the shoddy construction of schools and other buildings, and a high-speed-rail crash in 2011 that killed 40 passengers, the Chinese have grown more cautious about record-breaking projects like Zhang’s.
Still, having covered the stop-and-start progress of the CCTV tower in Beijing, by Rem Koolhaas and Ole Scheeren of the Office for Metropolitan Architecture, I’m not ready to write off Sky City altogether. There were several moments when CCTV seemed definitively dead and buried, felled by some of the same concerns inside China about overreach and hubris that now shroud plans for Zhang’s tower. Uncertainty and even grave doubts about a major building’s prospects seem to be a fundamental part of the design process in contemporary China.
For more on Prefab, please read http://www.architectmagazine.com/modular-building/prefab-grows-up_o.aspx