Last month, the city of Guiyang–the capital of Guizhou, 1,335 miles south of Beijing–unveiled a new office building to the world. Called Liebian International Plaza, it’s home to a hotel, shopping mall, and offices. Oh, and a giant, 354-foot waterfall.
Like so many other skyscraper trends (see: “vanity” spires), the waterfall seems completely devoid of functional purpose. What’s more, it’s a huge waste, both architecturally and in terms of water use. The waterfall wastes four floors dedicated to the machinery that powers it. Every single time the building’s managers want to run it, they have to activate four massive 185-kilowatt pumps that push thousands of gallons of water per second up pipes 354 tall at the cost of $116 per hour. According to Popular Mechanics, it’s so expensive to run that they only activate the waterfall on holidays.
And yet, I kind of love it. It’s strangely impressive to see water falling from such a height, so close to the steel and glass of the building’s facade. To put its scale in perspective, it’s 166 feet taller than Niagra Falls’ 188-foot-tall Horseshoe Falls drop. After all, skyscraper design is full of non-functional vanity details. I can’t wait until the architect moves on from water features and adds a few flamethrowers. Elon Musk can rent it out for Tesla’s headquarters in China.