The original Seven Wonders were the construction achievements of the Ancient World, such as the Lighthouse of Alexandria, the Great Pyramid of Giza and the Colossus of Rhodes

Since then, every age has compiled its own lists, from the awe-inspiring cathedrals, mosques and monuments of the Medieval World to the civil engineering feats of the Modern World.

But here we present the Seven Wonders of the CIOB World – fascinating projects around the globe delivered by CIOB members. They represent technical innovations and traditional techniques, preservation of the past and progress towards the future, different architectural and construction cultures. But one characteristic they share is the professionalism of their project managers

The Russian tower of Babel

Moscow, Russia

Baris Bicak ICIOB, quality assurance, quality control and safety manager for construction manager Turner International

The world is becoming more international and this is a truly international project with contractors from China, Russia, Italy, Turkey and France. Imagine discussing and co-ordinating quality and safety issues with all these people.

It’s an experience sitting in a progress meeting with the China State Construction Engineering Corporation, which is building the East Tower, with translators to translate from English to Russian and then from Russian to Chinese. Just co-ordinating the different technical standards is a huge challenge in itself.

We are a small team, just five of us from Turner International engaged for the client, Mirax Group. To manage this type of project with five people is not that easy. It’s a challenging job, but if you love what you are doing, this is a great place to be.

The biggest technical challenge has been installing the jumbo-sized beams and columns that form the steel outriggers for the technical floors that will house the M&E equipment. The steel structural members, which reinforce the concrete columns and beams will also allow the tower to flex at these floors.

Co-ordination was the issue here: the steel was manufactured in Luxembourg and transported to a plant near the Russian-Ukrainian border for fabrication and was then brought to site to be erected by CSCEC. The correct members had to be on site at the right time so that the sequence of installation was not broken.

I’m finding that this project provides an insight into human psychology: how to understand people, work out what they need, try to solve their problems and find solutions quickly and efficiently.

There are many different cultures on the project, many different views. For example, when we asked the Chinese contractors to provide medical kits at the production levels they explained that this would send the wrong signal to their workers – the presence of the medical kits would make them afraid to work there. You only get to understand things like this by living and working with them.

Description: $1.3bn Federation Towers, Moscow. Totalling 400,000 m2 in twin towers of 63 and 93 floors, a six-storey podium and a cylindrical mast for a panoramic elevator shaft linking to the towers by bridges.
Timeline: Construction started February 2005; completion date currently unknown.
Did you know? With the mast at 509 m, this will be the tallest building in Europe.

The Olympic games of Oman

Muscat, Oman

Iftakhar Baz MCIOB, project manager for developer Omran

This is a multi-faceted project. We’re building all the facilities for the Asian Beach Games themselves: dedicated fields of play for the sporting events, accommodation for media and admin staff, an athletes’ village, four-star hotel, apartment block, retail souks, restaurants, media centre, a man-made lagoon for all the water events and a new marina.

It’s a national project for Oman. They are very proud to be hosting the Games, so it is a great project to be working on. You would never get this sort of experience in the UK: the scope, the complexity, and dealing with people from all over the world.

I have been working in this region for three years, and used to work on a project on the Palm Jumeirah in Dubai. I was in Birmingham working for John Sisk & Sons as a contracts manager when I got a call from a headhunter. I had to think about it for about half a second! What you would consider a big project in the UK would be like an extension to a house here.

My background in contracting puts me in a good position as the client’s project manager because it allows me to identify any issues the contractors might have and any potential delays or critical requirements before they happen – and to remove any obstacles if possible.

It’s a very tight schedule to finish in time for the Games. So we’ve split the work into seven packages rather than letting the whole thing out to one main contractor. That allows us to almost start all the packages concurrently and reduces the overall programme and risk.

A lot of my effort is spent managing the design consultants to ensure the information and approvals are available to the requirements of the schedule. There’s a lot of whip cracking and regular meetings, a lot of controls in place.

Although most of the materials are sourced locally, some items such as chillers or air handling units have to come from overseas and they have long lead times so it’s critical to make sure we order them at the right times.

Description: 1 million m2 of venues and accommodation for the 2nd Asian Beach Games, an affiliation of the Olympics, in December 2010. The development will become a tourist resort and includes a hotel, apartment block, commercial offices and a 400-berth marina.
Timeline: Started June 2008, due for completion in December 2010 in time for the Games.
Did you know? The Asian Beach Games foster friendship among the Asian nations and feature sports such as beach football, jet-skiing and woodball.

The Colossus of Hong Kong

Kowloon, Hong Kong

Frederick So Yu Pui MCIOB, director of sub-contractor Wui Fai Engineering Company

Wui Fai designed, manufactured and operated the innovative climbing formwork for the core walls at the centre of the building. We are very proud of that. It uses two systems: jump form for the outer skin of the core and table forms for the lift shafts.

We had been working on Hong Kong’s International Finance Centre (IFC) for the same main contractor, San Field, who had asked us to amend the design and operation of the SGB climbing framework we were using there.

We used that experience to design the system for the International Commerce Centre (ICC) which we started on in 2006.

We made several improvements between the IFC and the ICC. Our engineers are hands-on every day so they understand what happens and what the difficulties are so they can note down what should be modified. One improvement was to tailor-make a special opening in the jump form so that reinforcement for the inner slabs could be delivered smoothly without having to open and close the platform.

To get the best out of our workers, we put them into small groups of four, each with a leader. We get better loyalty that way than if we have a ganger in charge of a big group.

We always train up more people than we need so that if workers need a holiday or leave, there is someone to replace them. And it also means they cannot argue for a higher salary.

We also train them in how to work safely and to take care of themselves and the workers below. We give workers a bonus if they complete the job safely as an incentive. The core is complete now and we didn’t have any accidents, not even a minor injury.

One of the innovative things about this building is the design of the glass curtain walling. Usually if there is a leak in a building’s skin it is impossible to find out which level it came from, but this curtain walling comes in panels, inclined and overlapping, like fish scales. The glazing is fixed into the frames in the factory which means there is very tight supervision and checking of the gasket.

Description: At 118 floors and 484m high this HK$300bn mixed-use skyscraper will be Hong Kong’s tallest building. The overall area is 262,176 m2.
Timeline: Groundbreaking in 2002, completion in phases from 2007 to 2010.
Did you know? The five-star 300-room Ritz-Carlton hotel will be the highest in the world, with its lobby at 425m above ground level.

The grand domes of Abu Dhabi

Abu Dhabi, UAE

Abdo Kardous ICIOB, managing director of Middle East Operations at project manager Hill International

The Grand Mosque is the first 21st century landmark in the UAE and Middle East as a whole, and I do not believe the region will witness another project like this for the next 25 years.

When we started our assignment in 1998, construction had been suspended pending a redesign. All the interior and exterior finishes and decorations were changed. As a result, there was extensive reliance on the use of artisans and handmade cladding and floor covering materials.

But the number of artisans in the world is dwindling and if anyone were to build an exact replica of the project a few years from now, it might be practically impossible or the cost might be significantly higher, due to the unavailability of these skilled artisans.

Significant redesign during construction can lead to abortive works, delays, additional costs and/or disputes. However, this was successfully addressed by our client by separating the structural works contract from the finishes, external works and building services packages.

The project has had a tremendous impact on the local construction sector in that it showed that the highest-possible quality can be achieved by an in-house client management team, locally hired design and construction engineers, as well as local construction companies.

But the biggest challenge were the central domes and the related column supports. One of the largest mobile cranes in the world had to be used to concrete them and there was only one suitable crane in the whole Middle East.

The whole team is very proud to have been involved in a unique facility that the whole world will be talking about.

Description: The HH Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan Mosque, known as the Grand Mosque, can accommodate 40,000 worshippers. Its main dome, at 87 metres high and 45 metres in diameter, is the world’s largest.
Timeline: The first phase finished in 2003, and the second in 2008. External landscaping is still ongoing.
Did you know? A 5,700 m2 carpet in the main prayer hall is the largest hand-woven carpet in the world.

The moving history of Canada

Heritage Park
Calgary, canada

James Logan, ICIOB, project director , Dominion Construction

After working in London for 15 years I started to feel as if I was treading water, so two years ago I decided to move my family to Alberta, Canada. Canada still needs more construction managers, the population is expanding all the time and they need to build housing. Alberta has done well in the global economy because of the tar sands industry and a lot of oil companies are building new office buildings in Calgary.

History is more valuable to a young nation and they go to huge lengths to protect anything to do with their history and culture. The aim of the Heritage Park is to let future generations know what it was like, and it’s an important local attraction.

Dominion was employed as construction manager. First we built Gasoline Alley, an automobile museum for vehicles dating back to the turn of the century. We also built an orientation and admissions building, a train line around the park for visitors, and a restaurant. We tried to stick to old technologies, so the building fascias are primarily masonry, with timber inside, and all the street furniture and street lamps are also as authentic as possible.

The most interesting part of the project was the relocation of the 110-year-old Opera House. It was originally in the town of Canmore in the Rocky Mountains. About 40 years ago, it was donated to the park. But its site was needed for new buildings, so it was decided to move it again.

We removed the bottom section of logs around the perimeter and placed a lattice of steel work inside to keep it rigid. Then we excavated under the building, and inserted hydraulic jacks which slowly lifted it, at 1mm an hour. Once it was about 1.4m off the ground, we backed a flatbed lorry underneath it, released the jacks, and the building settled down on the bed of the lorry.

We had built the foundations and basement at the new site, then rolled the building off the lorry. Once it was stabilised, we started to add new extensions. It’ll reopen in November.

Description: A $65m extension to the park’s facilities involved new entrance buildings, an automobile museum, car park, visitor’s train line and landscaping.
Timeline: Summer 2008 to November 2009.
Did you know? The Heritage Park is Canada’s largest living history museum, representing settlers’ lives before 1914.

The way ahead for South Africa

South Africa

Chrispen Mapungwana MCIOB, client’s inspector of works, Rosebank Station

My role involves the daily monitoring of all construction activities at Rosebank station, which has two underground floors and a car park. I work for the client, monitoring the work of the PPP concessionaire Bombela (made up of Bombardier, Bouygues, Murray & Roberts, Strategic Partners Group, J&J Group and ABSA Capital).

I make sure the contractors comply with the issued construction drawings, inspection and test plans, method statements, approval of materials and health and safety plans and environmental requirements. I also issue quality concern notifications, or quality advice notices for work that isn’t fully compliant.

On site at the moment, they’re doing the piling and foundations for the three-storey car park. In the underground station, we’re constructing the platforms and technical rooms and building the concourse and installing escalators. There’s also a cut and cover section between the station and the tunnel, where we’re doing the concrete works.

Before this, I was chief executive of my own construction company in Zimbabwe. But because of the economic situation there, there was no business and I had to move to South Africa. It’s hard to live in Zimbabwe. My family is still there, but I’m in the process of moving them here.

I’ve just become a chartered builder, something I’ve always wanted. I was supposed to do my Professional Review in 1997.

I had completed my exams and submitted my report, but then Zimbabwe ran out of foreign currency and I couldn’t pay my subscription to the CIOB for the assessment.

So when I moved to South Africa, I could pay the subscription again and was finally able to do the Professional Review.

For the time being I’m not thinking about running my own company again. I want to see the Gautrain project through to the end. After that, I want to work on big projects, whether they’re in Hong Kong, Great Britain, South Africa. Where there are big projects, I would be prepared to go.

Description: An 80km, £2bn rail line linking Johannesburg, Pretoria and O.R. Tambo Airport in Johannesburg, including 10 stations, and a 15km underground stretch in Johannesburg.
Timeline: September 2006 to July 2010 and 2011.
Did you know? Gautrain has exceeded its targets on hiring local labour, workers from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, women and workers with disabilities.

The sustainable spiral of Shanghai

Shanghai center tower
Shanghai, China

Zhou Hongbo, MCIOB, chief engineer for Shanghai Jianke Project Management Co, which is supervising the construction of the tower

The Shanghai Tower is set to become a new symbol of Shanghai, even a new symbol of China, and it will also represent the next step in the development of ultra-high-rise buildings. On the Shanghai Tower project, we will try our best to provide our all-round construction supervision service. At the same time, we will try to break the existing supervision service models and concepts, to achieve another milestone for the company.

Situated in the central area of the Luijiazui Finance and Trade Zone, it will be a large-scale, super-deep and ultra-high tower. This will make the project management process complex, as it requires a lot of organisation, planning, site management, quality control, safety and risk management.

The tower’s owners also hope to achieve a high level of building certification from the China Green Building Council and the US Green Building Council. Sustainable features of the building include a spiralling parapet to collect rainwater which is used for the tower’s heating and air conditioning systems, wind turbines located directly beneath the parapet to generate on-site power, heat recovery systems, a geothermal system for back-of-house spaces in the basement of the tower, an ice storage system and a grey water system.

On the construction front there will be many technical challenges, including the use of high-performance concrete (C80), a 30-metre excavation, 86-metre bored cast-in-situ piles, a 50-metre diaphragm wall, and the double-glass curtain wall which is incorporated into the spiral rotation and the vertical.

The Shanghai Tower is a multi-function building. It includes luxury retail, boutique offices, conference facilities, hotels and sightseeing areas. In addition, it is designed to be an intelligent and sustainable building. These elements require a high standard of mechanical, electrical and plumbing technology, which will present construction and supervision challenges that we have never seen before.

Description: The £1.3bn Shanghai Tower will be a 632 metre super-tall tower situated in the heart of Shanghai’s Luijiazui Finance and Trade Zone.
Timeline: 2014 completion target
Did you know? The tower will be the tallest in China and the second tallest in the world.