Shanghai: A bridge too far

Monday 22 Sep 2014

It is with great regret that late last week, our board of directors made the extremely tough decision to call off WAD14 with the resultant loss of four good team members.

The WAD team had been tirelessly working towards the three-day Shanghai event for many months, pulling together a compelling programme of workshops, debates, keynote speeches, building tours and forums to explore the opportunities being created by the rapid population growth in our cities, the increasing demands on transport, and game-changing new technology.

Our sponsors and supporters had embraced the challenge and helped us forge exciting new contacts in Shanghai and preparations for the summit were gathering pace.

The die was cast for Shanghai back when we launched the first World Architecture Day in London in 2012 as a platform for architects to present their work and debate issues facing the industry. London was followed by a bigger WAD13 in New York in partnership with the AIA NYC.

The long term plan was always to head East where all the big action was and we aimed high. However the pressure on architects had changed significantly since 2012, with work for many almost back to the pre-crash level; architects’ firms being almost universally much busier with many struggling to find experienced staff to deliver projects.

This change in the market graphically manifested itself for us in the fully understandable reluctance for busy architects to give up three valuable days to attend a summit.

The success of any conference depends on the organiser delivering good content and an audience. Last week we had to accept that we were not able to guarantee an audience of a size that would do justice to the participants and sponsors. We had misjudged the market and had to accept that Shanghai was a bridge too far.

Having contacted most of the participants during the last few days, the support for the decision has been overwhelming. A message from Patrick Riley, Senior Vice President & General Manager, Greater China Interface, one of our sponsors, summed up the mood: “I understand that this would have been a difficult decision, but much, much better than a failed event.”

We have learned a hard lesson from this project and going forward, will be focusing on what we have been doing successfully for the last nine years; delivering news and information, contract tenders, awards and recruitment.

I would personally like to apologise to everyone involved WAD14 for the disruption this cancellation has caused and thank all those who have sent messages of support.

Thank you,

Michael Hammond
Chief Executive
Built Environment Media

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