By Jamieson Cox, MBA ’14
As part of our visit to Suzhou Wuzhong Economic Development Zone outside Shanghai (SWEDZ), we were treated to an amazing lunch by Shirley Yao, Deputy Director of the Administrative Committee of SWEDZ. Following the extravagant lunch the MBA’s had a unique visit to the planning exhibit of the Suzhou Wuzhong Economic Development Zone to explore a major project in the planning. Upon arrival, the class was guided through a step by step explanation of the area and a breakdown of the vision of the future in this zone. The walk through the museum-like display seemed to project a plan to be built on different planet, as the area is currently very bare.
My personal analysis of the planning is that unlike most industrial planning of sectional areas, this project was not just a neighborhood or a shopping center; it was an entire area that is planning on becoming one of the largest and most influential cities in all of China. After walking around the room, as the whole class snapped photos of the large room-size scaled model of the SWEDZ, we were then brought up to a small deck that overlooked the whole city model lit by thousands of LED lights.
For the next 15 minutes, the entire group was glued to the large projector screen that displayed a video showcasing the plans. I personally have never experienced a project planned of this size and scale. It’s interesting to think about something of this proportion and the people who make these kinds of decisions, as they will not just effect the now, but also people hundreds of years down the road. All aspects of the human life were accounted for in the planning; from the large parks and tourist areas, to the residential areas fueled by the massive, job producing production districts. Fellow MBA Chris Dawson stated that “It was amazing seeing the amount of detail that went into the planning. The specifics of the display and video were something I have never seen.”
When we look at a city like Manhattan, we see that in the US it takes nearly a hundred years to build, while this city plan is presented as one project to be completed in a much shorter amount of time. Cities in the US are planned as numerous small projects that are all approved through a hierarchy. The plan that was showcased to us, seemed to be one huge project and vision of the major city; something that is not done in the USA.
My quote upon exiting was, “consider my mind blown. I want to be a part of that!”
It tells me that we need to always think BIG PICTURE, and that we might be better served if all of the smaller projects were guided by a major vision and bigger picture. By doing things like this, you can save on efficiencies and prevent creating more issues in the future, and not having to compensate for a lack of planning further down the road.