In Futurama, the Planet Express Headquarters can be found on the riverfront of New New York, and contains everything needed to run an interplanetary delivery firm including a dock for the Planet Express Ship and plenty of laboratory space for Professor Farnsworth to conduct his experiments and build doomsday weapons. The building’s fictional, but wait, what’s this? It’s a dilapidated observatory in Liege Belgium that looks really familiar…
Cointe Observatory (as it’s actually called) can be found just outside the centre of Liege, and was built as part of the University of Liege in 1881-2. Until 2009 when the University moved their astrophysics department to a different campus across town, the observatory was a key university facility.
Since the university moved, Cointe Observatory has been
mainly used as a launch site occupied by the local astronomy society. It’s currently being refurbished and will become a museum for the city, meaning that it will get a lot more visits in the future.
The similarity between Cointe Observatory and the Planet Express Building is a little bit forced. Although there’s a definite resemblance, photos are generally cropped quite a bit to make it look a bit closer to the New New York version of the building. In fact the observatory is just part of a much larger building that contains class rooms and office space for the university.
There’s nothing to suggest that the close resemblance between the Cointe Observatory and the Planet Express Building is anything other than a total coincidence, although Professor Farnsworth would probably have an equation that would show exactly what the odds of the two buildings being twins could be. In fact, he’d probably put it down to a disruption of the chronoton field that surrounds the planet, or as a result of some kind of wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff.
Unfortunately, the location of the Cointe Observatory in the middle of a residential district, and the fact that the building has been protected as being of historic interest means that any attempt to modify it in order to allow rockets to take off from the main section would probably be blocked by local planning laws.
If you want to see the building from the “Planet Express” angle, you’ll need to walk along Avenue de Cointe and look back towards the city centre. Otherwise, it’s hard to see the resemblance:
Just be sure to wear a lab coat and jam jar glasses to complement the scenery.