VENEZUELA: Spiral City

Real estate is costly in the mountain valley that houses Caracas, but the hill called La Roca Tarpeya, considered too steep for building sites, long stood barren right in the middle of town. Now an ambitious young builder is covering the rock with a cap of concrete and glass to form a spiraling, 25-acre commercial area worth $30 million. Architect Jorge Romero Gutiérrez, 36, calls his project "the helicoid," or spiral. In the two years that construction has been under way, Romero has spent $16.5 million, and last week the helicoid was 60% finished.

Traffic will enter the helicoid from...

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