Didn't you know - it's always been there and branch Annual General Meeting

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Posted by Catherine Bendell on 25th May 2017

The Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Hong Kong branch was held in the evening of 23rd May 2017 at the Wharney Guang Dong Hotel, Wan Chai, Hong Kong.

The May branch event followed after the AGM business had concluded. An interesting presentation entitled “Didn’t You Know? It’s Always Been There” was delivered by Mr. Walter Kerr, Executive Director of the Project Development, Ocean Park. (Ocean Park being Hong Kong’s conservation orientated theme park)

Walter Kerr is a professional civil engineer. His previous professional role was as a technical and management consultant for Babtie where he spent 29 years. During that period he worked in Europe, Africa, Indonesia, Hong Kong and internationally, with responsibility for the project management, planning and technical design of a large number of infrastructure projects. Walter joined the Ocean Park Corporation in late 2007, where he was responsible for the now completed HK$5.5 billion Master Redevelopment Project (MRP). Currently, he is leading the design and construction of the all-new “Water World” at Ocean Park, the original waterpark attraction having closed in 1999.

Walter shared with the audience the design process and challenges of the development of an all-weather, all-year waterpark. He also discussed about the two private sector funded hotel developments at Ocean Park; the Marriott and Fullerton Hotels, which are scheduled for opening in 2018 and 2020, respectively.

The presentation started by examining previous disasters at NASA as an example of lessons to learn – space being a particular personal interest of Walter’s. A spacecraft disintegrated on re-entry due to a mix up between sensors using imperial units and flight control systems using metric units. A second example quoted was the crash of a capsule into the desert floor in Utah due to a deceleration sensor being fitted back to front and the parachutes not deploying. The lesson from these examples was that great project teams can achieve great results, but they can also make spectacular errors. This led onto a theme that project management involves the management of different stakeholders in the different phases of the project. It is also about how to manage sometimes difficult personal relationships within the contractual obligations and entitlements. Eventually he equated “Project Management” as really being about “People Management” underpinned by solid technical capability.

As an Employer, Ocean Park’s ideal target for the design of the new water park, was for an over-arching design, which would be “remarkably thorough and complete”, including a requirement for essentially “zero-change required” at the construction stage. However this is very hard for consultants to both appreciate and deliver, according to Walter, who quoted Oscar Wilde; “I have the simplest tastes. I am always satisfied with the best.”

Walter went on to describe the scope of the previous Master Redevelopment Project, which consisted of eight phases, and encompassed the construction of a new funicular railway tunnel, marine aquaria, animal exhibits, thrill rides, restaurants and retail outlets. The project started in 2006 and it was completed in 2012/13. The hotel development currently underway encompasses the construction of Fullerton and Marriot Hotels, so that Ocean Park will finally have on-site hotels. A potential third planned hotel development is currently on hold. He illustrated the progress of the works from current site formation stage to rendered models of the final finishes and attractions of the planned water world facilities. At the same time, he also highlighted some overarching principles of the project, such as, minimal environmental impact, all-weather attraction, day and night activities, 7,000-guest capacity, annual attendance of 1.5 million guests, etc.

In his presentation, Walter showed three videos that illustrated some of the thinking that underlay the design and development process:
1. The Water World Theming Concept,
2. The Source Design Concept [symbolizing water as the source of fun and excitement],
3. The Ground Breaking Ceremony of Ocean Park Water World.

At the ceremony, Carrie Lam, the future Hong Kong CEO who will be installed on 1st July this year, said of the previous Ocean Park waterpark, “It was a sweet collective memory of a lot of Hong Kong People.” “… but this Water World will be the best in the world.”

 

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