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Although the private industry was hit hard by the global recession, it appears to many that it is recovering faster than the public sector.
The recession has made private companies leaner and with fewer internal resources, creating project implementation challenges — domestically and internationally. And, AECOM is positioned to study, evaluate, design, engineer, remediate and manage investments for global companies in existing or new facilities around the world.
As an corporate account manager, Elizabeth Chaney talks about engaging senior management at global companies to meet their complex project needs.
How does a corporate account manager help a client?
Having been on the owner’s side, there is nothing more disturbing than a global company having multiple people marketing to it, and without knowledge that they are doing so, and therefore ultimately confusing what should be a coordinated message. The purpose of AECOM’s corporate account program is to establish with the owner how to best serve them with the variety of services that we offer around the world.
I work with owners and the business leaders in each of AECOM’s capabilities to coordinate our services. So, my role is, in many ways, a strategist and a connector.
What can a corporate client expect from AECOM thanks to this special relationship?
A corporate client can expect a point of contact to provide sources of information that are coordinated with their goals — basically an owner’s advocate within AECOM. A trusted partnership is built and enhanced by the wonderful teamwork across AECOM's services. This leads to really interesting solutions that truly meet the needs of our clients.
How does your role support project managers and their clients?
My role is to understand the needs of an owner and work internally to form teams and partnerships that address that owner’s needs. I support the project managers and teams by working with them to develop client relationships, working through the various processes related to winning a project and facilitating legal and financial review when required, as well as aligning the owner and team expectations prior to winning the work.
Throughout the life of a project, I continue to work with the owner to develop new opportunities and evolve the project development services based on their changing needs. My role can be flexible to support AECOM’s project managers and the work they are doing for our clients. I keep a finger on the pulse of our project teams and on the client’s perception of our performance so that we can, in real time, make adjustments to continually meet and exceed their expectations.
How are AECOM’s services integrated to better serve clients throughout all geographies and business lines?
Having the ability to reach into an organization on a moment’s notice to solve a problem that was not originally part of the scope of a project is highly beneficial.
One of my favorite examples is the NASA Research Center in Mountain View, California, United States. The original contract was for a master plan and existing buildings’ assessments, as NASA considered a long-term development of their campus with potential public-public and public-private partnerships. What AECOM ended up providing were services that included architectural, engineering, program and construction management, environment, cost consultancy, strategic planning, economics, sustainability, infrastructure development, and oversight. NASA could reach into AECOM’s platform as they studied different ideas and options, and we could bring AECOM and others to the table to best address whatever was required. Now that’s a phenomenal platform on a localized basis … consider what that could mean to a global company.
Honored young AECOM engineer — Emma Charlton
Situated 300 miles (483 kilometers) northwest of Brisbane, Australia, Roma is a small town of 6,000 residents that’s rich in mining. Australia’s first oil and gas discoveries were found here. AECOM’s Emma Charlton — Australian Young Engineer of the Year for 2011 — also came from this small town.
Charlton, who is based in AECOM’s Brisbane office, is passionate about her environmental profession and the chance to make a difference for her clients and the community. Her influence, leadership and innovation have drawn acknowledgement from the best in the engineering field.
One only has to page through her project portfolio to grasp an understanding of what a pioneer and leader of innovation she has been in her nine short years as an environmental engineer. Clients from the construction, mining, transportation, power and industrial sectors have all needed her knowledge, high-level leadership and project management capabilities.
Internationally acclaimed and award-winning projects such as Brisbane’s Inner Northern Busway, Green Square Towers and an upgrade to the Tully Alliance — 9.6 miles (15.5 kilometers) of the Bruce Highway that featured six bridges in Far North Queensland — are all part of her impressive and expanding repertoire of successful ventures.
It is not always the giant projects that bring out Charlton’s most creative side. For example, in Central Queensland, a mine dump station was causing problematic noise levels to a neighboring property and previous noise assessments had failed to provide a definitive solution. This left the client and homestead owner feeling frustrated. To provide a clear course of action, Charlton had to take into account not only noise from the dump station, but the impact of noise levels from the natural environment, such as birds, insects and wind in the trees, which were affecting measurements.
Charlton explains, “I took a series of noise measurements, including daytime and late-night noise measurements at the house and at the mine, to understand the noise impact at different times of the day.
“I then conducted manual statistical noise surveys to determine the relative contribution of the dump station and the natural sources. This enabled a much clearer picture of the noise environment at the homestead and allowed for a course of treatment to be determined that met the mine’s objectives, but still satisfied homestead occupants and regulatory authorities.”
Charlton’s work at the homestead formed the basis of a case study in the Air Contaminants, Noise and Vibration Handbook, produced by the Australian Department of Resources, Energy and Tourism. The case study demonstrates a leading practice for the mining industry.
In 2012, Charlton was appointed AECOM’s Australia and New Zealand workgroup manager for environmental advisory services. As the supervisor for three service delivery teams in the areas of risk engineering, air quality and sustainability, her focus is now firmly on strategic direction and financial management, while still maintaining a hand in the acoustics space for the construction, mining and transportation industries.
“I still have a role developing and reviewing our acoustical engineering solutions for projects,” says Charlton. “That includes everything from television studios and performance spaces, to defense facilities, to mines and power plants and new road and railway infrastructure.”
Outside of her busy work commitments, Charlton spends time with husband Brent and keeps vibrant through sport, fitness and travel. She is a keen pilates fan, and regularly plays competitive netball and participates in triathlons.
Adapting to the San Francisco Bay’s rising tide
Sea levels in the San Francisco Bay Area in California, United States, are projected to rise 16 inches (41 centimeters) within the next 40 years, and 55 inches (140 centimeters) by the end of the century. The swell of the sea waters could have devastating impacts — including flooding neighborhoods, businesses and natural environments, and impacting the bay area’s vital transportation infrastructure. More than 250,000 residents will be directly affected, and many others will be indirectly affected, by reduced access to important services such as transit and commercial centers, healthcare facilities and schools. The San Francisco Bay Area, home to approximately seven million people, is the fifth most populated urban center in the United States.
AECOM led a climate change vulnerability and risk assessment of transportation assets in the San Francisco Bay Area. The goal was to increase the preparedness and resilience of the bay area communities to sea level rise and other climate change-related impacts. The pilot study, titled “Adapting to Rising Tides: Transportation Vulnerability and Risk Assessment,” focused on the Alameda County shoreline between Emeryville and Union City. Significant components of the regional transportation system are located in this area, including rail, freeways, two bridge touchdowns, Oakland International Airport, the Port of Oakland and Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART).
AECOM brought together multidisciplinary experts for the project. Claire Bonham-Carter, director of sustainable development for the design + planning practice, was joined by Kris May, senior coastal engineer and scientist for the water practice, and Ryan Park, senior engineer for the transportation practice. They collaborated with clients Metropolitan Transportation Commission, Bay Area Conservation and Development Commission, and Caltrans to perform a detailed inventory of the transportation assets within the subregion, as well as to test the effects of climate change on transportation infrastructure, including road networks, transit corridors and facilities, and bike and pedestrian routes.
“The cornerstone of this assessment was the development of new inundation maps that account for daily tidal inundation, extreme water levels and wave effects within two future sea level rise scenarios,” explains May, who developed these maps.
“This pilot project produced a detailed vulnerability analysis of sea level rise impacts on regionally important transportation infrastructure,” says Park. “It identified implementable strategies for addressing vulnerabilities in ways that advance regional goals, such as transit-oriented growth. The subregional focus of this pilot also served as a testing ground for the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) conceptual risk assessment model, evaluating its strengths and areas where it can be improved.”
Funding for this project was provided by FHWA, whose risk assessment model provides a set of considerations for inventorying and classifying vulnerable infrastructure. Intended to be applied to both existing and planned transportation assets, the model assesses characteristics such as importance, redundancy and risk.
Bonham-Carter says, “The overarching goal for this project was to test the conceptual model and develop a method to prepare a sea level rise adaptation strategy for the planning area’s transportation network that will prevent significant disruptions and guide future investment decisions.”
Sound advice on acoustics engineering
One of the world’s leading authorities in acoustics engineering, AECOM’s Bernadette McKell, is tuned in to the world of noise. From overhead aircraft and rumbling trucks on our roads, to trying to achieve the perfect sound balance in a hotel bedroom, she understands the impact of acoustics on our quality of life. “We are all deeply affected by acoustics, and my work is about negotiating between sounds that are generally welcome and helpful, and noise, which definitely is not.”
Her varied portfolio of projects has ranged from predicting and assessing noise and vibration, to large-scale mapping, road, rail and airport transportation infrastructure projects, to industrial and commercial developments, and leisure and residential schemes.
McKell also leads AECOM’s creative and technical excellence council in Europe.
What is the importance of good acoustic design and engineering?
The importance of good acoustics in our everyday lives cannot be overstated. Every one of us has been on a business trip or a holiday and looked forward to a good night’s sleep in a hotel, only to find our peace shattered by traffic on the nearby highway or even guests in the next room. Because we cannot see it, noise tends to be treated less seriously than other forms of pollution, however, it has the capacity to cause real distress and even illness. At its extreme, continued annoyance is not just irritating, causing problems such as sleep disturbance, but it can also affect the cognitive behavior of children, and aggravate hypertension and mental disorders.
The positive news is that with thought and good design, most noise-induced stress can be avoided.
What attracted to you to working in the world of acoustics?
The acoustic environment can enhance or detract from our experience of the world, and that’s what has always fascinated me. It is an almost invisible profession. People are only aware of acoustics when something is wrong. But, I know I have done a good job when I can see people enjoying a building or walking around a city where I have worked.
What is the range of acoustics work that AECOM does around the world?
Because we are specialists in urban development and regeneration, and large-scale infrastructure projects, much of our work is based in cities. Our goal as an acoustics team is to understand the nature of the challenges and then work with a whole range of colleagues and other partners to use our knowledge of acoustics to enhance urban areas and make them more enjoyable places to live, work and spend leisure time.
For example, at the very start of development or regeneration projects, we can be involved in the master planning process where we can build the creation of soundscapes into the very fabric of the city. These soundscapes can take many forms, from introducing water features or even bird song into city centers to advising on the use of sound-absorbent materials and physical buffers to deflect noise. The desired result is one of harmony.
Transportation noise is always a concern in cities, and we have a number of strategies for mitigating that. In Sydney, Australia, for example, we successfully managed rail noise and vibration in a mixed-use, city center development at the Chatswood Transport Interchange. The development includes three floors of shops and food outlets, plus three high-rise residential towers. Noise-control measures were incorporated to reduce airborne noise from mechanical plants such as air conditioners. We also provided advice on the design of the public address system and construction noise and vibration.
Acoustic controls inside buildings are also crucial to our enjoyment of them. In the noisy setting of a large leisure center for example, a level of buzz is enjoyable, but too much makes the place feel hostile. In a recent leisure center project in Harlow, United Kingdom, our team worked with the architect on the strategic introduction of acoustic absorption material to counteract the reverberations around the building. And this had to be achieved without being visually intrusive.
Perhaps at its most sensitive, the acoustics of healthcare buildings is crucial to well-being. In the recent Cleveland Clinic hospital project in the United Arab Emirates, we worked as part of a multidisciplinary AECOM team. The quality of the interior environment, including acoustics, was of the highest priority. Our greatest challenge here was marrying the level of technical skill required on the project with the timeframe available to us.
Can you describe one project where acoustics engineering had a transformative effect?
One of our most exciting recent projects was mapping the acoustics of an entire country — this was The Scottish Noise Mapping Project. Working with the national government, our brief was to create a 3-D model of the country and include all relevant infrastructure, acquire the data necessary to predict the noise levels for each transportation and industrial source, and also facilitate calculation of population exposure data for submission to the European Union (EU). This information then formed a base for an action plan for the management of noise pollution.
We combined our acoustics knowledge with geographic information systems (GIS) technology to create the map. Most people are familiar with heat maps, so we made one on the same basis but measuring noise. The work stands as Scotland’s largest data-gathering exercise.
The European Union has estimated that around 20 percent of the EU’s population, or close to 80 million people, suffer from noise levels that scientists and health experts consider unacceptable. They are annoyed, their sleep is disturbed and adverse health effects are expected. An additional 170 million people experience noise levels causing serious annoyance during daytime. Against this background, there is a clear need to manage environmental noise on a national and local scale.
Within AECOM, we have the technology to create the required maps and have now completed the first stage of the action plans that set out medium- and long-term strategies for dealing with environmental noise within major cities and their environments. The main focus is on transportation noise and we are working closely with Transport Scotland, local authorities and airport operators to achieve this.
Although currently the noise mapping of cities is primarily a European initiative, the concept is finding favor around the globe, notably in China and Australia.
What does the future hold for acoustics?
One of the most exciting areas for us at the moment is working on our new and innovative SmartMap application. This allows third-party stakeholders to interact with the maps, run hypothetical scenarios and be more participative in the end use to which their data is put. We are planning to link this to a dynamic mapping system, which when combined with the work of AECOM’s smart technology initiative, will help create continually updating dynamic maps.
Transitioning assets: Compelling remediation and site reuse planning
Companies around the world have real estate and underutilized facilities and assets encumbered by environmental liabilities and contamination. These issues can negatively impact a company’s financial performance and reputation, as well as affect the local community.
AECOM’s John Ryan, vice president, senior remediation and reuse program manager, explains, “For many properties, these issues include a bad mix of escalating costs, stakeholder frustrations and gridlock. AECOM’s experience in transitioning assets and developing compelling reuse plans helps resolve complex cleanup problems and create lasting value for stakeholders — a true win-win. We’re skilled at finding the right reuse for a site that balances market demand, financing requirements, and risk-driven and regulatory remediation obligations.”
AECOM is one of a few firms with the real estate planning, negotiation, risk communication, remediation and design skill sets paired with economic and financing expertise to provide a comprehensive approach and solution.
For example, AECOM successfully assisted a global energy company in western United States with cleaning up and redeveloping a 1,000-acre (405-hectare) closed refinery. The facility was part of an active lawsuit. Today, it is a multiuse site with an industrial park, kayak and golf courses, and expansive wildlife refuge. At the same time, AECOM helped the client save hundreds of millions in remediation costs.
“When we designed this asset transition, we engaged the community in the reuse vision, which built support for a better cleanup,” Ryan explains. “Another example is a LEED [Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design] certified brownfield redevelopment of a former gas manufacturing plant in an urban city center [northeast United States] that won a Phoenix Award for an outstanding brownfield redevelopment.
"Another recent project involves a multinational oil and gas company. We are assisting with analyzing alternative business case options for a site with US$200 million of environmental cleanup liability, providing life-cycle cost estimates for each option. Our projects have valuable synergies where business goals and site remediation and redevelopment needs are achieved using innovative approaches and fewer resources [such as an environmental cap serving as a parking lot] while reducing environmental liabilities and costs. Plus, we’re ensuring green and sustainable remediation is part of our solutions, adding value to communities and clients.”
“Companies benefit from our unique business and economic approach that includes financial modeling, asset valuation, risk management and alternative exit strategy analysis that can be applied to a single asset solution or an entire global portfolio,” adds AECOM's Michael Malley, senior program manager, alternative delivery solutions. “For example, we’re helping a multinational pharmaceutical company resolve remediation/reuse issues and satisfy financial concerns for sites in the global portfolio that it is divesting.
"Now, we’re also working on strategic planning and financial modeling for a major mining company to evaluate a business case for transferring environmental liability at a closed mine site.”
These win-win solutions have additional general and community benefits, including job creation, tax base expansion, reduced urban/suburban blight and improved property value, as well as healthier neighborhoods, local habitats and ecosystems in the built, natural and social environments.
A park of reconciliation in South Africa
Freedom Park, situated on Salvokop in Pretoria, South Africa, serves as a memorial that narrates the story of South Africa’s pre-colonial, colonial, apartheid and post-apartheid history and heritage. The park aims to acknowledge those that contributed to the freedom of the country, through a Wall of Names — an awe-inspiring structure, approximately 2,287 feet (697 meters), inscribed with the names of those who died during eight conflicts within South Africa’s history.
The Freedom Park project was launched on June 1, 2000, as a response to the need identified by the “Truth and Reconciliation Commission” for symbolic reparation of past conflicts in the history of South Africa. It is the product of the many processes engaged by the government since 1994 to create and foster a new national consciousness of the common legacy that binds the people of South Africa. Davis Langdon, an AECOM company, provided cost management services for the entire intermediate phase as well as all the projects that formed part of phase two of this development.
Freedom Park, Phase II, opened to the public in late 2010. Davis Langdon provided cost management services for the construction of the Sikhumbuto and Moshate buildings and the associated landscaping of this prestigious project. The team’s services included estimating and project budgeting and feasibility; bill production and procurement for main contractor and all subcontractors; cost reports and certifying valuations; and final accounts for main and all subcontracts.
The Sikhumbuto (memorial) consists of approximately 125,938 square feet (11,700 square meters) of paved gathering space and walkways; an approximately 7,315-square-foot (680-square-meter) sanctuary; approximately 17,319 square feet (1,609 square meters) of indoor space; and a service area that is approximatly 2,411 square feet (224 square meters). The construction further entailed extensive excavations and concrete retaining walls.
The Moshate (presidential guest house) consists of approximately 14,068 square feet (1,307 square meters) of reception, lounge, meeting and office areas, while the landscaping consists of walkways, paved areas, water features, planting and rehabilitation of the construction area. Moshate is located in a garden of “healing and remembrance” within a 129-acre (52-hectare) site overlooking the South African capital city of Pretoria.
A first of its kind internationally, Freedom Park is founded on the values of human dignity, rights and freedom, and is a reflection of the sacrificial achievements the nation has made. It tells the story of South Africa’s reconciliation process, the advancement of human rights entrenched in the Constitution and the tale of its diverse heritage in a visual and interactive way.Read more
This landmark project has received the following awards:
- Institute for Landscape Architecture in South Africa (ILASA) Award of Merit for Design and a South African Landscapers Institute (SALI) Gold Certificate for Implementation for Freedom Park Phase 1 Entrance kiosk & parking rehabilitation (2005)
- ILASA President’s Award of Excellence (highest design award given by the Institute) for the ISIVIVANE Contemplative Space, Freedom Park, Pretoria (2005)
- ILASA Award of Merit, Excellence in Design, Completed Projects for Freedom Park, Intermediate Phase (2009)
- Torsanlorenzo International Prize, Landscape Design and Protection 2nd Prize Section B: Urban Green Spaces for Freedom Park Intermediate Phase NLA & GreenInc & Gallery Momo in joint venture (NBGM) 2009
- Loerie Awards: Three Dimensional & Environmental Design - Gold Award (2008)
- ILASA President’s Award of Excellence (highest design award given by the Institute) for the ISIVIVANE Contemplative Space, Freedom Park, Pretoria (2005)
- World Architecture Festival, Barcelona, short listed for Nature Category and special mention for the Intermediate Phase (Sikumbuto, Tivia Origin and Moshate) of Freedom Park, Pretoria - joint award NBGM with OCA Architects (2008)
- World Architecture Festival, Barcelona, short listed for Culture Category and special commendation for the Museum (//hapo) of Freedom Park, Pretoria (2010)
- Pretoria Institute for Architecture (PIA) award of Merit for the Museum (//hapo) of Freedom Park, Pretoria (2011).
Safeguarding the reliability of water supply in Hong Kong
Upgrading the largest water treatment works in Hong Kong and the largest in Asia in terms of daily output capacity without interrupting service? Could it be done? AECOM solved the puzzle.
With the design capacity of 1.2 billion liters per day, Sha Tin Water Treatment Works (STWTW) supplies treated water to a part of urban Kowloon, and the entire Hong Kong Central and Western districts — providing water to more than two million people, which is more than 30 percent of the Hong Kong population.
Since 1964, STWTW went through three stages of expansion, which is known today as two sections: the South Works and the North Works. The South Works has an initial rate capacity of 364 million liters per day. Considering the South Works serviceable life and the rising water demands of society, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region government wanted to reconstruct and upgrade the section to offer a more reliable and high-quality water supply. AECOM was appointed by the Water Supplies Department (WSD) to provide detailed design and construction supervision services, as well as to develop a landscape framework, master plan and the final layout plan for the ultimate stage of this challenging project.
“With the diversified capabilities of AECOM, we are able to provide our client with an integrated solution, covering civil, geotechnical, mechanical and electrical works, and architectural and landscape design,” says AECOM’s Bevis Mak, project director of this mega project.
One of the major challenges of the project is to maintain the daily operation of the North Works while reconstructing and upgrading the existing South Works from 360 million liters per day to 550 million liters per day. In order to cope with the demand of treated water without interrupting services, WSD is expanding the capacity of Tai Po Water Treatment Works in order to relieve the current heavy reliance on STWTW, which helps to maintain output from the full plant at 880 million liters per day.
“Natural and sustainable are the key elements of overall design of this project. Our design team has integrated a wide array of green features in the new facilities of South Works,” says Mak. The architectural design of the building and landscape of the STWTW site blends in with the surrounding green valley.
Mak further explains, “One of the highlights is the extensive installation of green roofs and walls in the new buildings. To minimize the maintenance effort, an innovative, green-roof rainwater harvesting concept was proposed, as a water management system would be incorporated with the green roof systems for irrigation purposes. We believe the green features can save energy consumption and provide a more pleasant working environment for the workers and visitors.”
Additionally, “real materials” are selected as they work best with the surrounding environment. Mak says, “Sustainability is also important, so we have proposed to use and adopt recycled plastic materials and to reproduce them as new construction materials, which look like real wood.
“The client was particularly impressed by our proposed innovative, cost-effective and low-carbon footprint, as well as our design and the concept of a multi-story administration building with visitor facilities, plus our unparalleled laboratory design experience.” The project is scheduled for completion in early 2019.Read more
Energy Management System (EMS)
An Energy Management System (EMS) is introduced to enable plant operations to improve by understanding the unique energy landscape. EMS provides tools to improve energy efficiency, reduce operating costs, enhance productivity and increase the power system reliability. It also helps to uncover hidden power problems that can shorten equipment life or cause costly downtime.
Utilizing natural resources
To avoid solar heat gain, the architectural design of the new buildings has taken into consideration the orientation of the building to properly locate doors and windows as well as maximize the use of natural lighting and ventilation.
A helping hand for child health
In collaboration with the Australian Red Cross and Miwatj Aboriginal Health Corporation, AECOM is working to support an initiative for the Galiwin’ku community that is aimed at improving child health and well-being on remote Elcho Island, 300 miles (483 kilometers) east of Darwin on Australia’s northern coastline. Home to the largest Aboriginal community in northeast Arnhem Land, Elcho Island has a base population of 2,200. The population fluctuates during periods of the year, when many outpost residents migrate to the main community as the wet season makes conditions in the more remote areas of the island inhospitable.
The joint initiative is the “Healthy Baby, Healthy Community” program, which targets early childhood development and the strengthening of parenting skills through peer support and education for pregnant women and mothers, clinical treatment for children, and improved outreach support and education services.
AECOM donated A$50,000 (approximately US$48,840) to the cause, with AECOM’s Richard Jackson, chief executive of Australia and New Zealand, committing the funds to help Red Cross and Miwatj Aboriginal Health workers break the cycle of poor nutrition and bring positive change to remote indigenous communities.
“This donation is part of our ongoing partnership with the Australian Red Cross and the program will support vulnerable Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander mothers, babies and children,” says Jackson.
With a focus on the families with children who are underweight, young parents and parents introducing solid foods to their babies under five months old, the Healthy Baby, Healthy Community program is steadily gaining the trust and support of those in need of assistance. Activities such as healthy cooking sessions and playgroups are well supported by trained medical staff and a doctor who visits weekly to conduct checkups and update health plans as necessary. Participants in the program have also been tending a garden of fruits and vegetables, including traditional Yolgnu fruits and medicine trees.
Miwatj Health Nurses working in the community of Galiwin’ku have indicated that the program is already starting to make a noticeable difference as they balance the complex problem of malnutrition with maintaining respect for the indigenous culture.
“We are holistically looking at issues around food security and nutrition, but also taking action within a Yolgnu framework and way of working,” says Cathy Woods, clinic manager and child health nurse. “What we can see from the program in its early stages is really encouraging. We have noticed a real impact with individual families and more families are starting to engage.”
Joan Mlaku Dhamarrandji, Australian Red Cross peer educator, also believed the good work being completed was giving the community a sense of ownership over the health and welfare of the members within their community. Dhamarrandji explains, “Our work with parents and families is all about making people aware and encouraging them to be self-determined.”
Recognizing a need for better health and education facilities in isolated areas of Australia, AECOM has fostered an ongoing partnership with the Australian Red Cross to support programs seeking to create positive outcomes for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Island communities. AECOM is also supporting the Indigenous community of Warburton in Western Australia through its pro bono work on the Sustainable Warburton Project, which is an Australian-first initiative to create new and improved urban spaces and improve the livability of Aboriginal communities.
Bucharest: Old city, new future
Some cities opt for iconic art galleries or concert halls, others invest in their food, culture or the fashion scene, but whichever route they choose, breathing new life into old cities is a challenge facing urban authorities around the world. One of those cities, Bucharest, the high-energy and fast-growing capital of Romania, invited urban visionaries from AECOM to a workshop for exploring the options and routes to shaping its future.
The workshop sprang from a meeting in New York between Bucharest’s Mayor Dr. Sorin Oprescu and New York’s Mayor Michael Bloomberg. While discussing the future of their cities, Mayor Bloomberg recommended that Mayor Oprescu should meet with AECOM.
“When I visited your [AECOM] office in New York, I knew that this was the beginning of a great collaboration,” says Mayor Oprescu.
Bucharest is the 10th largest city in Europe, with London, United Kingdom; Berlin, Germany; and Madrid, Spain; in the top three positions. Bucharest’s chief architect, Gheorghe Pătraşcu, set out the nature of today’s challenge: "Bucharest saw rapid growth in the ‘70s and ‘80s, which now leaves it with a major gap in infrastructure development compared with other European capital cities. For the city to reach an average level of urban comfort, it requires a series of projects involving large amounts of investment.”
Bucharest city’s leaders met AECOM’s urban design experts for a two-day workshop focused on understanding the challenges and assessing opportunities for improvements in the city. Bucharest’s City Hall is keen to build collaboration with partners that can help realize the mayor’s vision and the Bucharest “2035 Strategic Concept."
AECOM was represented by a team that included Alfredo Biosca, director of architecture and real estate for Romania; Jon Blasby, head of real estate services for Europe; and Christopher Choa, urban development principal.
Using the consultation experience gained through AECOM’s Global Cities Institute, the discussions focused on Bucharest’s desire to be a world-class city and its need to compete on the global stage. To achieve this status, the conclusions included advice that the city needed to focus on: creating a recognizable global identity, greater urban population density, mixed land uses, multimodal connectivity, high-quality open space and proactive governance.
AECOM’s experts identified promising development options. They also outlined how public-private partnerships would help the city attract grant funding and secure cooperative relationships among agencies in order to overcome political barriers for the delivery of major projects, such as expansion of the Metroul București underground railway and completion of the median ring road.
Several national daily newspapers, including Adevarul and Evenimentul Zilei, covered the meeting in full. Ziarul Financiar, Romania’s largest circulation business daily, featured an interview with Christopher Choa. “Bucharest has the bones and culture necessary to become a successful city, a regional hub, but it needs to connect to the other cities as well," Choa observed. "In globalization, cities become more important than nations. Bucharest needs to become a competitive city and find its place in the global supply chain.”
Mayor Oprescu was pleased that the meeting had been productive and looked forward to working with AECOM in future development projects: “I hope that, in our next meeting, we will be able to talk about active projects. I would like to be able to carry out my projects with your help, with professional people, people who love cities. Precisely for this reason, we want you as partners of Bucharest.”