Megastructures: Exploring the Challenges and Aspects of Building Large-Scale Projects


Megastructures are large infrastructure projects essential to the development of cities and communities. These projects typically have multiple stakeholders, take years to complete, and involve substantial risks.

The size, design, and purpose of megastructures create economic, social, and cultural impacts on society. These projects differ from other construction projects because they cost significantly more to build and have higher public and private stakeholder involvement.

Megastructures increasingly are used to deliver goods and services across industries. The size and complexity of these projects typically require multiple leaders and teams to manage the different phases.

Discover the aspects and challenges of building megastructures.

Examples of Megastructures

Examples of public and private megastructures include:

  • Hospitals
  • Airports
  • Seaports
  • Railway systems
  • Tunnels
  • Dams
  • Canals
  • Sewage and water supply systems

Aspects of Megastructures

Several factors must be considered when developing and implementing megaprojects to help them stay on time and within budget:

  • The objectives and scope include what the project should accomplish. These details help create collective milestones for the project teams to accomplish together.
  • A general schedule and budget to organize the teams and resources, outline the project, and accommodate changes or unexpected issues during the lengthy completion time.
  • A project management process to facilitate efficient completion.
  • A communication strategy to ensure the workers understand the project vision and proceed as planned.
  • Stakeholder agreement to communicate project expectations, provide leadership, resolve issues, and offer support.
  • Resources such as building equipment, materials, machinery, and personnel must be tracked because they come from different sources and suppliers. Coordinating the resources helps receive them on time and delegate them to the project management teams.
  • Sustainability to maintain the project’s functions or operations at a specific level after completion.

Challenges of Completing Megastructures

The significant investment in megastructures makes them high-risk projects. These risks include having to complete rework, taking longer to complete than planned, and going over budget.

Implementing the following tips helps reduce these risks:

  • Use reference-class forecasting to determine an appropriate schedule, budget, timeline, and workforce organization.
  • Stay on schedule and budget by having realistic funding, simple processes, and productive workers who create quality work.
  • Set realistic timelines to plan, implement, and inspect the project.
  • Organize the workforce so communication flows in an orderly manner.

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