There's big -- and then there's mind-blowingly big! Everything about the World Expo 2010 in Shanghai, China defies easy definition. Covering a total area of 5.28 square kilometers (2.04 square miles), the site is divided into five zones spread along both sides of the Huangpu River in downtown Shanghai. The CNY18 billion extravaganza includes gardens, wetlands, paved walkways and hundreds of buildings.
The expo is not only a triumph for project managers from the Shanghai region and the Chinese construction industry, but also from all of the nations that built and fitted out their pavilions. The design, construction and management of the Shanghai 2010 World Expo projects went beyond the traditional iron triangle of "time, cost and quality" to include sustainability and safety.
The projects represented a true integration of Western and Eastern cultures, demonstrating project management as a truly global profession crossing all sectors. There are more than 200 countries and international organizations represented, ranging from Tuvalu to the United States; the World Bank to the International Council of Museums, as well as numerous corporations and Chinese provinces.
In one long day, I only managed to see a small section of the total experience, but could start to appreciate the overarching purpose of this great festival.
The remarkable British Pavilion's "dandelion" is made up of 60,686 acrylic rods, each 7.5 meters (25 feet) long, to allow light into the inside of a 20-meter (66-foot) cube. Embedded in the end of each rod are one to 10 seeds representing Chinese plant species growing in the United Kingdom. Project managed by Mace Construction Group, the remarkable "seed cathedral," is already winning awards.
In the two months since opening, the Expo has hosted more than 25 million visitors. And organizers expect 70 million will get a glimpse of the urban vision before the Expo closes in October.
My visit was a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see project management on such on a grand and global scale. If you can't make the trip personally, you can be a virtual tourist online at http://en.expo.cn/. It's well-worth the visit.