Skip to content

Leo’s Kingdom 4 An Introduction to the Scene…

I realize in looking at my earlier post about the project in Shijiazhuang, its obvious I am not really sure how to organize this. No mystery as to why, these event occurred over a period of 2 years and to say that a lot went on is a gross understatement. I will do my best to help it make sense, I can’t put exact dates as honestly I would be lying to claim I knew them :P,  just not how my mind works… My aim is to tell this story as best I can. Who knows maybe some of the others will chime in and help as I am sure to miss things along the way.

I am thinking to add a cast of characters at the end of each post to help keep it organized, feel free to check it out if you like..

Back To It…

Train Station

Train Station

Upon arrival in Shijiazhuang we are met at the train station by 2 member’s of Jake’s staff, Brian Ong and Cathrene. Both are Korean but have some english. Brian is the Korean team’s manager and lead designer, Cathrene is their translator for Chinese and English as she is actually ethnic Korean from the north-east area of China. They both seem very nice and help us get our luggage into taxis.

The first impression you get of Shijiazhuang is that its loud, densely populated and extremely dusty. We arrived in June so the air quality was actually quite good for this city, actual blue skies and clouds. Shijiazhuang is a second tier city, this has many meanings but one of the more noticeable to foreigners is that we are truly alien here. It’s very common in China to be stared at by the locals but outside the big cities its much more pronounced. It’s quite possible for a person to be looking at you with wide eyes and mouth slightly ajar because they have in fact never seen  ” anyone ” like you in person in their lives. I have yet to spend much time in the rural areas of China where I assume the ” Polar Bear effect ” will be even more pronounced…

Streets of Shijiazhuang

Streets of Shijiazhuang

Streets of Shijiazhuang

Streets of Shijiazhuang

Like many places in China almost everywhere you look there are buildings either being put up or torn down. Even the roads are under heavy construction as they are in the process of installing a Metro system. The drivers and pedestrians here are some of the craziest I have yet to experience in China. I have it on authority that it’s nothing compared to India but I have yet to go there… The taxi is an old VW ” Bora , Magotan, Sagitar  also known as a Jetta… ” and quite dirty. Unlike in the first tier cities the driver is separated from the passengers by a full bar cage assembly, I assume to keep us from throttling him…

For the car people out there here is very interesting read on the way  VW names its cars in China.

The driver is quite aggressive and drives with fast seemingly random lane changes and  liberal use of the horn, rules of the road and traffic signals are obviously more a suggestion than anything else. There are people everywhere, walking running, riding bikes, electric scooters and “Moa Di” 3 wheeled carts, many of which seem to be carrying the type of load we at home would put in a Uhaul truck. Busses and larger trucks drive with jungle rules, meaning they go where they want, when they want and you had best get out of the way. The overall effect is an amazing assault on the senses, unfortunately its something you have to experience to really understand, the pictures never quite get it. Amazing to think that I used to consider Shenzhen drivers bad, I suppose everything is relative.

Shortly we come upon a large 4 lane roundabout. It’s under a freeway which is notable as here the traffic intensifies even more despite the efforts of several cute female traffic cops standing on small pedestals in the road. Having already spent years in China and traveled around a bit  I actually kind of enjoy this type of thing. I am a bit crazy after all. Doug is less appreciative and I can hear him mumbling instructions to the driver or possibly prayers for deliverence…

On the other side of the freeway up ahead lies our destination at the end of the road. Lian Bang’s project is massive even for China, there are the standard giant residential towers stretching far into the air, large tower buildings in various stages of construction and a huge half built  “coliseum ” looking thing in front. Later we will find that this is where our Theme park will live. The whole place is covered in dust, workers and vehicles going every conceivable direction. We pull into a gated parking lot across from the Coliseum and are greeted by young men in what appear to be army uniforms. They wave us through when they see it’s the Koreans.

We are met at the door by some Lian Bang employee’s, I can’t actually remember who all it was now other than Sarah Shang who will be serving as translator and special assistant to Chairman Li the owner of Lian Bang and our client. Sarah strikes me as interesting right away as she has excellent english skills and a charming English accent to go with it. As we enter the building one of the first things you see is a giant cylindrical fish tank which occupies the center of the huge reception area.

Small Fish Big Tank

Small Fish Big Tank

It has a lot of colorful fish and what appears to be real coral growing inside it. In the picture you can just see the fish tank cleaning guy, he was there every day taking care of Chairman Li’s Fish. There are dozens of young men and women running around wearing what seems to be the uniform for their profession here in China, Black dress pants and white  button down shirts. Up ahead is a giant scale model lit up like a christmas tree ” also a standard for the real estate game in China ” and a giant LED screen up above.  I will let the pics tell this part.

Big Model

Big Model

Thas A Big Model 1

Thas A Big Model 1

Thas A Big Model 2

Thas A Big Model 2

Thas A Big Model 3

Thas A Big Model 3

Thas A Big Model 4

Thas A Big Model 4

Thas A Big Model 5

Thas A Big Model 5

Thas A Big Model 6

Thas A Big Model 6

This model reminds me of my very first freelance job while still in school. I and 4 other guys built a scale model of Manhattan Island for the observation deck of the World Trade Center, Twin Towers in New York. I never got to see it in place and it obviously no longer exist…

Godzilla Me

Godzilla Me

These pics are probably all thats left of that piece…

All Thats Left...

All Thats Left…

Upstairs we are brought to an office to wait for the remaining member of our little team. Danilo is coming in from his project in Changsha by train to help us get a kick start. It turns out that we are actually already behind schedule as the client wants to see our first pass in two weeks. I am glad to hear that El Primo is coming as I know together we can accomplish something good. As for the rest of the group here not so sure, there are 4 or 5 Koreans here, only one of which; Brian, is a designer. 2 girls Cathrene being the only one I can remember at this time and an older man introduced as Dr Park. They have been on site for 3 months now and from what I can see there has been very little done…  I suppose this kind of thing really shouldn’t surprise me anymore, but I am always amazed at how little seems to be accomplished by employees versus consultants. Maybe that is a topic for another time…

Once Danilo arrives we are met by another Lian Bang employee, James. He is in the position of Themepark Operations ” or so we are told ” and will take us on a tour of the site after a brief discussion of the project needs and a quick look at that big ass model in the lobby. James is actually Korean and speaks almost no English so Sarah translates for him as he discusses the current scope and their progress. The site is 245,000 square meters, all indoor with the ground level actually dug down about a story. The central area is enclosed  in a roof which rest at 17 meters, with 2 huge domes which have a maximum height of 25 meters. These domes will be the only source of sunlight for our park. All around this 17 meter area is a huge swath of area which only  has 5 meters of clearance. This area will hold a Venetian style canal that circles around the site and  be made up of shops, restaurants and other assorted venues. Our focus for now is the central 17 M Zone and the 5 M area up to the canal. We are told by Jake and Chris that this is a sticking point with the client as there is some disagreement as to who is responsible for what…

Master Plan

Master Plan

We are all shown a pretty typical video presentation extolling the wonders of the project. In true Chinese fashion is it full of ripped off design content from just about every major western studio and lots of smiling Chinese shoppers and children doing ” Stuff “. Interestingly there also seems to be a lot of images of some other attempts at designing this space. It turns out that we are the 3rd group brought in to design the Park, following The Goddard Group and some Canadian company I cannot recall the name of. In truth I am getting a bit nervous as I can see that not only is the scope of this thing about twice what was described but our team is really too small for the task.

Park overview is pretty impressive, as I told you before the size is gigantic. This will be the largest indoor Themed Entertainment venue in the world. with over 300 shops and restaurants in the surrounding buildings and what is proudly proclaimed as the largest parking garage in China. As per the current design the idea of the park is to be split into 2 separate experiences a Water Park and a Theme Park. This seems a good idea as DPI ” our employers ” are specialist in Water Parks, something Doug, Danilo and I have no experience with at all. After the question and answer period which held such highlights as…

Q. Can we see the Feasibility Study?

A. Whats a Feasibility Study?

Q. Can we see the as built CAD drawings or 3D model of the construction?

A. No because they don’t exist…

With all those questions resolved its time to go check out the model and then off to the site. Not much to be said about this except its big and illustrates another interesting challenge to our project. The entire roof of the building will be comprised of a lake. What could possibly go wrong…

To be continued…

 

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: