Move over, Dubai. Chongqing (pronounced “chong-ching”) is poised to become the new construction site on steroids champion.
Li Shirong, deputy minister of design and construction for the 82,000 sq-km city, is one of its most vivacious spokespeople. Speaking at a Womens’ Transportation Seminar event in New York City in April, she is a walking encyclopedia of its economic and building opportunities.
Shirong also happens to be the first woman—and first non-Brit—to serve as president of the Chartered Institute of Building (CIOB), a U.K.-based building professional group with over 42,000 members. Porie Saikia-Eapen, a vice president with CH2M Hill, noted at the WTS event that the nearly 200-year-old group is one of the oldest of its kind, with 112 countries represented.
But back to Chongqing. Calling it the “Chinese Chicago” due to its central location and dynamism, Shirong notes that its total foreign trade value last year reached $12 billion. “This year it will be $30 billion,” she adds. “By 2015 it will be $100 billion. This is reality.”
Cha-ching! (sorry, couldn't resist)
The Chinese government intends to relocate 16 million people (out of the total population of 32 million) from rural lifestyles into urban jobs. That involves construction of $1,000 km of new highways, 1,000 km of rail, and 60 new universities in the next five years, said Shirong. With all this new infrastructure, cargo (including HP’s notebooks) can reach Europe by rail in 13 days.
As if that weren’t convincing enough, at the International Chinese Transportation Professional Association meeting, held in Los Angeles in May, Man-Chung Tang, chairman of T.Y. Lin International, did a presentation on Chongqing. The renowned bridge engineer noted that the city will build a new industrial area, Liangjian, of 1,200 sq km—as big as Hong Kong—complete with a new airport that, when completed in 2015, will have a 70-million-passenger/year capacity.
But amidst the construction craze, he noted that the city requires good planning and sustainable growth, he cautioned. He pointed out that the U.S., with about 5% of the world’s population, consumes well over half the world’s resources. If China were to follow suit, it would consume 135% of the world’s resources.
So the growth, as vast as it is, must be smart, high-tech, and yes, green. ‘We have to create a city of the future,” said Tang. “Chongqing is the place to do it.” He encouraged American engineers and planners to take on the challenge: “Are you ready?”
To see a video interview with Li Shirong, please go to the Video LIbrary on enr.com