The Cracks in China's Shiny Buildings

Hasty construction and shoddy materials shorten buildings’ lives
Excavators dismantle a toppled 13-story building in 2009 at the Lotus Riverside apartment complex in Shanghai’s Minhang district. Bad project management, poorly trained workers, and loose monitoring affect the quality of construction Photograph by Shanghai Daily/Imaginechina

On a Saturday morning in September, prospective homebuyers thronged the sales office for Fun City, a community of high-rises under construction on Beijing’s outskirts. Whether the buildings will still be standing a half-century from now is anybody’s guess. In July, massive flooding raised questions about the fitness of this low-lying stretch of land for dense development. Local media reported that properties adjacent to Fun City experienced water-logged basements, while parts of the nearby G-4 superhighway were submerged. At least 77 people died—many of them drowned in their cars—in part because of inadequate or clogged drainage systems.

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