Since his early days at China State Construction Engineering Corp., Wang Xiangming has faced challenging tasks. His current job as project executive for the 473,000-sq-meter multipurpose station and headquarters for China Central Television is certainly the pinnacle. The job is so tough that the project team describes its goal as creating “construction miracles.”
The building’s two leaning towers, which each slope 6° on both the X and Y axis, are connected by a base structure and by a 13-story “overhang” suspended 36 stories in the air. Innovations developed for the construction methods won 10 patents from the Chinese government. For example, a 40-meter-long mobile platform was developed to provide a safe place to erect structural members underneath the overhang. China State crews also used 600 monitoring stations to make sure the inclined steel moved into the correct final positions.
“Project management has been my key experience in the past 20 years,” Wang says. Now a China State vice president, he has “always been hands on in managing projects.” Wang studied construction at Nanjing Construction Engineering University, starting only a few years after the government resumed college entry exams after the Cultural Revolution, when only the best students won admission. Under the “old system” he was assigned to the technology department in China State’s third division.
Hands-on project executive led the team building dramatic new headquarters in Beijing.
“On my very first project in Shenzhen, I led a group of 180,” while navigating the language barrier of workers speaking Cantonese, Fujian and Sichuan dialects, Wang says. He won the respect of highly skilled senior workers by “respecting them, being modest, learning from them, communicating and being a good role model.” On top of that, Wang cemented the relationships by dining out with them and winning the “drinking competition.”
Wang used his early lessons in teamwork to develop “crucial” communication systems among the 30-plus companies involved in the massive CCTV project. In addition to numerous China State subsidiaries, Wang worked with the Office of Metropolitan Architecture, the Rotterdam-based architect, London-based engineer Arup and Turner International, the New York City-based construction consultant.
David Howell, project manager for Turner International, saw Wang in a lead role on the project and saw a “higher focus on safety” than on some jobs in China. “Fall protection was enforced...and hard hats did not seem to be a problem like on many projects,” he says.
Wang says large projects like CCTV are better equipped with safety devices and put more emphasis on safety. CCTV has “40 people on site daily to make sure that all procedures are followed,” he says. The most important factor is hiring “safety-sensitive” employees, a criteria for large, complex jobs, he adds.