Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Globalization's Squeaky Wheels

What is the obssesion with giant ferris wheels?

Reuters is reporting that a $290 million "Great Wheel of China" is about to be built in eastern Beijing.

The giant ferris wheel will have 48 air conditioned observation capsules, each of which can carry up to 40 passengers, and on a good day even the Great Wall is expected to be visible in the mountains to Beijing's north.

The Singapore Flyer takes online reservations and the London Eye offers a Christmas package of mulled wine and mince pies at altitude. The Great Wheel Corporation is building or planning to build wheels in Berlin, Dubai, Orlando, and Qingdao.

Is this the new, must-have international status symbol? What happened to building and supporting world-class cultural institutions?


Evan O'Neil said...

Well, everyone loves a vista, not everyone can afford a penthouse. And I'd rather see a big wheel race than a militarization of space race. There are much worse things a government could do with its people's money.

Plus, are world-class cultural institutions really a good investment for cities these days? I'm sure they have some spillover and we need a few big institutional anchors, but they need to be done well, integrated into the city fabric.

Think of what a terrible waste of space Lincoln Center is. It's more a cemetery for the arts than a vibrant hub. It takes up a huge amount of real estate but only generates cultural and economic activity a fraction of the time. I believe they've started broadcasting the opera to movie theaters at lower cost to expand audiences.

The other thing to consider is that top-down culture is a bit passé. We're in more of a participatory era, which has unleashed a lot of creativity. There are probably a lot of good small-scale policies for nourishing the arts that would yield better economic results, cultural buzz, and interesting cities.

Efusion said...

if you are not concern about the purpose and just want to see some nice photos of those WHEELS. Please visit http://www.greatwheel.com/gallery.htm