Maxwell Stephens

FM Challenges of The Wonders of The World

We tend to think about the excitement of new roles, in new, modern buildings such as the Shard or ‘The Walkie-Talkie’, however, older more historic buildings are often disregarded. What would be the FM challenges in some of the world’s most historic buildings? We have selected 5 of the wonders of the world, to explain the challenges an FM may face in these structures.

1.Petra, Jordan

Petra was the capital of the Nabatean Kingdom. It contains tombs and temples and a theatre, surrounded by mountains forming the Arabah valley. Petra covers a total 264km2, nicknamed the Rose City due to its pink sandstone cliffs. Petra is over 2,300 years old, making it one of the oldest cities in the world. Only 15% of Petra has been excavated, with yet another 85% undiscovered, emphasising the magnitude of the city.

The challenges


As an FM, the responsibilities of the role at Petra would be endless and very difficult. During its inhabitance, Petra was a vast city, rather than a series of diminished structures. This suggests the many difficulties that may have been faced, if there was a designated FM.

  • Location– Petra is located within the Arabah valley, isolated from civilisation. The journey to work may not be a simple 10 minute car ride, or train journey. The FM would have no alternative other  than to stay in the nearby Wadi Musa, resulting in a mile uphill walk to Petra. This route takes you through a narrow gorge only 4m in width called the Siq. This walk can take anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour depending on the temperature, which can be very high in Jordan from 30-40°C.
  • Tombs- Petra was built upon as an ‘eternal’ place of burial, therefore, there are more 1000 tombs carved by the Nabataeans between 1st century BC and 2nd century AD. Some of these tombs include the Silk Tomb, Urn Tomb and the Palace Tomb. As an FM, this would pose a great challenge in further development of the city. Excavating remains of Nabataeans may be a daunting task. Not to mention the risk of disturbing Nabateanion spirits, which may potentially heavily disrupt future work! The FM of Petra would be a very conscientious professional, who would have to walk the fine line between being efficient in their task, whilst simultaneously showing respect for the dearly departed.

2.Great Wall of China, China

The Great Wall of China was built over centuries by emperors, to protect their territory from Eurasian nomads, disrupting trade along the Silk Road. Construction of the wall began in the 8th century BC, with over 1.8 million labourers used to build the wall. Over 400,000 deaths occurred through building the wall, with the bodies buried within the wall. The wall is visible from space, emphasising the vast magnitude of the wall.
The challenges 
As an FM, the responsibilities at the Great Wall of China would be endless. The magnitude of the wall is the clear overarching challenge.
  • Distance– the wall covers a distance of 21,196km, greater than the distance from the north to south pole! To cover this distance, ensuring the wall was continuing to be built correctly would have been a gigantic challenge, covering many different terrains such as The Gobi Desert, Jundu Mountains, vast grasslands and long rivers. This would result in the FM to have no other alternative but to sleep in the watchtowers, which would not be very suitable for a prestigious role. To cover thus distance within the year, a minimum of 58km would have to be covered per day! We estimate the minimum salary for the FM of the Great Wall of China to at least be 4.3 million Chinese Yuan (£500,000) per year, due to this responsibility!
  • Communication– the delegation of tasks would be extremely difficult as an FM. This is due to the sheer amount of labourers working on the wall, with over 1.8 million total labourers over a period of 200 years, averaging at around 10,000 per year across the entire wall. As an FM, communicating with this amount of workers would be almost impossible, in ensuring efficient development. The FM would have to rely on messengers to send letters across 21,196km of challenging terrain.

3. Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt

The Great Pyramid of Giza was built as a royal tomb for the pharaoh, Khufu. It stands at 138m tall consisting of 2.3 million blocks weighing 6 million tonnes in total! The pyramid was built in 26th century BC, standing as the tallest structure in the world for 3,800 years. There are three known chambers within the Great Pyramid of Giza, the Queen’s Chamber, the King’s Chamber and Khufu’s Vizier. 


The challenges:

As an FM, the floor space within the pyramid may be less than the total floor space of Petra and the Great Wall of China, however, there are still some significant challenges that would’ve been faced.

  • Internal issues– venturing throughout the pyramid may have been a significant challenge, due to the poor lighting. An FM would’ve had to carry a torch around with them while performing tasks, due to the darkness within the pyramid. Alongside this, a lack of connection to the external world may be very daunting. The FM would be isolated within the pyramid, with a lack of social interaction. Working as an FM inside the Great Pyramid of Giza may have been an extremely lonely and daunting job.
  • Confidential– going into the role as FM, you would be unaware of what is actually within the pyramid as it is disclosed. Not only would you be unable to plan your tasks, you would also be unable to disclose any information! This would prevent you from explaining your day at work to your family. It may add excitement knowing that you are responsible for disclosed information, however, you would be unable to be aided in any task difficulties, being expected to overcome any issues by yourself

4. The Colosseum, Italy


The Colosseum is an oval amphitheatre built in 80 AD, under emperor Vespasian. It can hold up to 60,000 people for public spectacles and gladiatorial contests. During some events, over 10,000 animals wold be killed within a day! Spectators could enter through 80 different entrances.


The challenges:

Unlike the previous wonders of the world, the Colosseum was used for events, requiring challenging events management tasks.


  • Health and safety– as in certain days there would be over 10,000 animals killed, the FM would have the responsibility or organising a team to efficiently remove animal remains within the ground between events. This would have to be as efficient as possible to not prevent disruption within the spectacle. Alongside this, animal cages would have to be cleaned and safe, to ensure the optimal entertainment for the audience. Cleaning tiger cages may be a difficult task, considering there would be hundreds if not thousands per event. The FM may expect a bonus, for putting their life on the line!
  • Crowd control–  with 60,000 spectators per event, there would be many responsibilities for the FM when managing the event. Having 80 entrances, requires high level security at each entrance to ensure safety. Not only when entering the Colosseum, but when inside the Colosseum, the crowd would have to be controlled. Ensuring there was no over-crowding or violence being replicated from the arena into the crowd. If tensions rose, the FM would have to ensure members of the crowd did not enter the arena.

5. Taj Mahal, India


The Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum, housing the tomb of Mughal emperor Shan Jahan and his wife, Mumtaz Mahal. The tomb is the centrepiece of the 42 acre complex. The complex includes a mosque and a guest house, with a 300m² Mughal garden.


The challenges:

The Taj Mahal is renowned for it’s pristine interior and exterior design, requiring further implications for the FM.


  • Estate management– as there is a 300m² Mughal garden, gardening will be a large aspect of the FM’s responsibilities. The garden consists of 16 sunken flowerbeds, elevated water beds and fountains. The FM would be required to have a large, efficient gardening team to ensure the garden is maintained to an extremely high standard, as it is a major aspect of the appearance. Managing a vast garden all year round, may be extremely challenging alongside the internal maintenance.
  • Contractors– due to the unique architecture within the Taj Mahal, many different contractors are required to maintain the complex. Masons, painters, carvers, calligraphers and dome builders are some of the few examples of contractors required. As within the interior design there are many precious gemstones, the management of contractors to meet deadlines for different aspects of the interior is crucial. Alongside this, the vulnerability of marble is another crucial factor, as marble is easily eroded within certain conditions, therefore, maintenance between several contractors is essential.

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