Architecture purists, turn back now. Star Trek aficionado and wealthy tech exec Liu Dejian purchased the rights from CBS to build a home and office space that’s a deadringer for the sci-fi film franchise’s famous starship, the USS Enterprise. Located in the coastal city of Changle in China’s Fujian province, the 853-foot long building features the circular contours and tubular features of the iconic spaceship, which appeared three times in Star Trek films released in the late 1990s and early 2000s. The building’s cleverest design quirk is that when viewed from the ground, it looks like a somewhat typical office mounted on columns with a parking space beneath. However, satellite and Google Maps imagery reveals it to be a starship with a football field and four tennis courts on a roughly circular plot of land surrounded by water. As the only licensed Star Trek building in the world, it has become the headquarters of online game developer NetDragon Websoft, founded in 1999 by Dejian, also a board member of Chinese search engine giant Baidu. Inside, the 43-year-old tech exec has installed a lifesize replica of a T-Rex named Stan after the paleontologist who discovered parts of its skeleton in South Dakota in 1987. True to Star Trek legend, the work spaces are divided by automatic sliding gates, and 30-foot metal slides on the third floor whisk employees down to the ground floor in a flash. Regarding the company’s first attempts to contact CBS to purchase building rights, NetDragon Websoft told the Wall Street Journal: “That was their first time dealing with an issue like this and at first they thought it was a joke. They realized somebody in China actually did want to work out a building modeled on the USS Enterprise only after we sent the legal documents.” Construction commenced in October 2010 and completed late last year, costing a reported 600 million yuan ($97 million). The building has inspired heated debates online among Trekkies as to which ship it is modeled after, but general consensus maintains that it’s the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-E.
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The above might be the most spectacular project to (n)ever happen. In 1992, The Fremont Street Experience, by the Jerde Partnership, became the project that was built to save downtown Las Vegas, at a time when the boom of casinos along "The Strip" was siphoning business from the city's core. But no one knew—until now—that apparently the real winner of that project's competition was Gary Goddard and his team, who claim to have proposed to build a full-scale Starship Enterprise in downtown Las Vegas. The spectacular mirage-city in the Nevada desert is the only place where a project this amazing could ever (not) happen. "My concept was to do something so large and so epic, it would fire the imaginations of people around the world," Goddard said on the Goddard Group blog. "It would create a new '8th Wonder of the World' ... that would take its place alongside other 'must see' monuments in the world. You would be able to see this from the airplanes as they came for landing at the Vegas airport. It’s that big." The main structural challenge was the enormous cantilevered disc at the ship's bow. With many of Disney's best engineers (imagineers?) working to make it happen, the $150 million project was set to include key rooms, chambers, decks, and corridors from the actual ship, as well as ride elements and restaurants. There were no casinos or hotel rooms in the program because the existing downtown establishments were paying for the new building. They already provided these services and didn't want to pay for a new competitor. Goddard envisioned the Starship Enterprise becoming “an attraction of such magnitude that it would draw people from the strip, a destination attraction” that would “re-establish the downtown core as the center of the action in Las Vegas." The original plans went along for nearly five months, and everyone was excited about the idea, until one executive from Paramount Pictures decided to kill the project. He did not want to be the guy who commissioned a "flop." In movies, he said, a flop goes away after a couple of months. If the building "flopped," it would be there "forever." What did get built, The Fremont Street Experience, is no slouch. Billed as "Vintage Las Vegas" due to the rich history of the street, it now includes a pedestrian mall with a street-scale, video-enhanced canopy called the urban theatre, which is the worlds largest electric sign. Also part of the revitalized district are the Neon Museum and Neonopolis, a Vegas-style shopping mall.