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— by Wade Shepard: The museum looked like a colossal golden jelly bean. The adjacent library was designed to look, literally, like a row of books on a shelf. Across the street was an opera house that appeared to have been modeled off of some kind of ancient Silk Road fortress. These magnificent buildings were all aligned along a massive public plaza that was nearly the size of Beijing’s Tiananmen Square, which ran south from the palace-like edifice of the new local government headquarters. Such monumental public works may have come off as normal along the raging boulevards of a vibrant, uber modern big city, but out here in Ordos Kangbashi — a quiet and scantly populated new city rising up from the desert of central China — it was difficult to suspend a surreal feeling of disbelief: why would all of this be built here? I would soon discover that it was all a part of a top-down central government initiative to completely revamp China’s cultural infrastructure…

June 20, 2019