The Hudson Yards Project began in December 2012 and it is located in Manhattan, NY. The current project is ongoing with an estimated completion in year 2024. The Hudson Yards is an ongoing “megadevelopment” that is home to shopping centers, restaurants, offices, and public plazas to name a few. The goal of this project was to create a 21st Century Urban Experience and integrate “smart” technologies. This paper discusses how this latest development has been the driving factor in this megaproject. It also focuses on the four sublimes that drive a megaproject and some of the challenges faced; these include political, technological, economic and aesthetic. The Hudson Yards Project has faced design challenges, political and economic issues surrounding costs and challenges in the transformation of implementing technology in several sections of the Hudson Yard. With more complex projects it is important that teams have the ability to deal with emergent issues and managing projects in the 21st century.
The development of The Hudson Yards Project began in 2012 by Hudson Yards Development Corporation. According to Hudson Yards Development Corporation website, the corporation is comprised of experienced staff members in the areas of planning, development and construction. Their business relationships included members from state and local entities. Prior to the development of The Hudson Yards, New York City placed a bid to host the 2012 Olympics game on the land; however, they were denied. The parcel of land was later acquired by Related Companies and they initiate that project with Hudson Yards Development Corporation.
21st Century Experience and Technology
Technology is a popular development in project management. The goal of The Hudson Yards Project was to create a 21st Century Urban Experience that includes the integration of smart technologies. With the growing and changing economy the idea was for The Hudson Yards Project to be up to date in technology and align with an innovative green design. The innovative green design consists of green technology, green material and green manufacturing (Ko, 2020). Tenants of The Hudson Yard would experience state of the art connectivity, speed and efficiency and a green community. Technology has transformed real estate investments in the 21st century (Clayton, Fabozzi, Gilberto, Gordon, Mackinnon & Mansour, 2019). This 21st century experience initiative was a way to attract new tenants while creating a property that was good for the environment, while adapting to a technological economy.
The Hudson Yards Project is considered one of the biggest project developments in New York City with a cost of around $25 billion. Megaprojects are not to just important because of the budget they require but also because of the many entities that play a role in them. In a study by Zhai, Zen and Cheng (2009), the authors explore the value of stakeholders in megaprojects. Megaprojects are more complex than normal projects due to their complexity, value of stakeholders, large investments and substantial influences . Many project managers face challenges due to the complexity of projects. With large and complex projects there are many expectations and roles, which also include interests that may not always align (Wu, 2020). Delivering megaprojects such as The Hudson Yards project can cause challenges like project deadlines, underestimating risks, miscommunication and budget issues. For megaprojects or any project, it is important that plans are clear, and the communication lines are clear.
There is a lot at stake when working through a megaproject and project managers play a crucial role in their success. Dealing with complex projects calls for a project manager that has soft and hard skills. There should be a balance of soft and hard skills (Wu, 20200). Some of the soft skills that a project manager should possess when working on a megaproject are communication skills, interpersonal skills, management skills, leadership skills and organization skills. When it comes to hard skills a project manager should be knowledgeable in the area they are working in, execution and planning skills and experience in operations and business processes. In a paper written by Thamhain 2013, the author discussed how important it is to effectively deal with risks in complex projects. A project manager should also be well versed on evaluating risks and have problem solving skills.
In a study conducted by Flyvberg 2014, the author focused on megaprojects and how they unfold. In this study, Flyvberg discussed four causes also known as sublimes that explain increases in megaprojects. The four sublimes are political, technological, economical and aesthetic; and they are contributing factors as to why project managers underestimate risks and overestimate benefits (Flyvberg, 2014). The political sublime describes how politicians want to focus on what is best for them in the project, the technological sublime describes how technologist and engineers try to push for the greatest results, the economical sublime describes
how people try to benefit financially from megaprojects and the aesthetic sublime describes the pleasure that architects and designers get from their designs (Flyvberg, 2014). With the Hudson Yards Project these four sublimes could have had an effect on the project.
The Hudson Yards Project faced political challenges due to its cost and location. As a project manager it is important to have stakeholders who are on board and supportive. As stated previously, interests are not always aligned so having stakeholders who have the same view is crucial; especially in a megaproject. In addition, it is important to have a sponsor who is supportive and who sees the value in the project. Aesthetics played a major role in the development of the Hudson Yards Project. The Vessel is a structure that is a centerpiece of The Hudson Yards. The idea of this landmark was so that visitors can get views of the city from different angles. However, trying to create a structure that is unique can be problematic. A project manager may underestimate the cost in trying to create a structure that is like no other. It is important that project managers have realistic goals and an appropriate budget. It is also important for project managers to ask themselves what they are trying to accomplish and then set their goals. Technology was a driving force in the development of the Hudson Yards. Similarly, to design, technologist and engineers want their development to be unique. With this project managers may run into issues where they are changing the plan based on the opinion of the engineer. This can cause issues with the budget and potential risks. Megaprojects can bring in a lot of revenue for businesses and create jobs. Businesspeople who may also be stakeholders, can play a role in the development of a project. Businesses may want to expand when they hear about the development of a megaproject. The Hudson Yards is home to many high end retail shops and corporations. These corporations receive an increase in business due to a new development. Project managers need to set clear expectations with business and establish timelines. Businesses are in a hurry to expand and they may become unhappy when their expectations are not met.
Megaprojects can be complex and challenging. However, they are in demand and can be delivered successfully. The Hudson Yards is an example. The Hudson Yards in now one of the most visited neighborhoods. This challenging project took many years and is estimated to be complete by 2024. As with any project or megaproject it takes effective planning and developing a team that will support the project. Megaprojects require “highly sophisticated project management skills, methodologies, and processes” (Hamdy, 2010).
About the Author
Sharde Bush-Jones is a current MBA student who has a diverse academic and professional background. She enjoys writing, research, blogs and reading. Her interests are employee relations, diversity and inclusion, and training and personal development. Get to know more about the author here: www.linkedin.com/in/shardebj2011
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