Instant City

Work has begun on a huge project in South Korea. KPF looks to plan and build a $25 billion town of 100,000 people—in ten years.

On the 44th floor of a Midtown Manhattan skyscraper, a small army of architects from Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates (KPF), as well as financial and marketing people from the Gale International of New York and the Korean company POSCO E&C, have been busy planning what its sponsors call the largest private development in the world: a $25 billion town. Nearly 7,000 miles away in Seoul, Korea, a similar office is coordinating construction of New Songdo City, which broke ground last fall.

Located on a 1,500-acre expanse of landfill off the western coast of Korea, Songdo will be completed in five phases over ten years. Because a six-mile bridge connects it to Incheon International Airport, Songdo is envisioned as a North Asian business center. In contrast to the sprawl of Seoul, virtually everything in Songdo will be planned: an entirely new city of 50,000 permanent residents, with office space for 50,000 additional commuters and visitors.

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