Quick! Name the Country with the Lotus-Shaped Building

Hint: The lotus is the country's national flower...

By , Columnist

You'd be forgiven for guessing Dubai or possibly India or China but those would be incorrect. At 68 stories, the new Bitexco Financial Center in Ho Chi Min City (Saigon), Vietnam won't be breaking any height records but with its sinuous lines is certainly setting style records for the city and country both. It is currently the tallest building in country but only for another month or so as a 70-story tower is under construction in Hanoi.

Structure Magazine reports, "Designed by the architect Carlos Zapata Studio (New York), the development consists of a high-rise office building, a five-story retail podium, and four levels of below-grade construction, much of which is devoted to parking. The shape of the tower is modeled after a lotus flower bud, the national flower."

Bitexco_night.jpgWith five other towers of 50 stories or more currently going up in the same neighborhood of District 1, the Central Business District, the skyline of the city will have dramatically changed in a short three years. Previously a 45-story tower would have been the city's tallest. The project design and construction team were led personally by Mr. Vu Quang Hoi, Chairman and CEO of Bitexco, a Vietnamese trading company, and the building's shape is accentuated by graceful lighting and lasers on the helipad for special events.

And you were thinking the Vietnam of Apocalypse Now or that movie where Robin Williams played a morning radio combat DJ, were you? The pace of development in country now is certainly on a par with anything in China, save for the non-existence of a high-speed train (trains can take 36 hours to get to Hanoi). A subway system is currently being dug in Ho Chi Minh City, and the country's first tunnel under a river, under the Saigon River, is scheduled for completion, uhh, soon.

With projects being undertaken at breakneck speed, estimates of completion times are sometimes wildly overstated - but such is the price of progress. Look at the number of 50+ story buildings going up in your city and multiply that by say, 20 - unless of course your number is zero. There are easily 20 under construction in both Hanoi and what used to be sleepy Saigon. With Bob Dylan having passed through town just recently, "the times, they are a-changin'".

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David has spent most of his career in advertising. That alone should call his writing skills into question. David currently writes the Wild Wild East Dailies from Saigon but has trouble seeing the forest for the trees because it's a jungle out there.

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