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January 1998

A Fair Trade ?

The new Messe Munich.

Economy, ecology and flexibility have all been major ingredients in developing the Munich Messe GmbH's new site - and the first few weeks after the official opening will tell whether planners got the recipe right. The official opening of the Riem site on February 12 by German President Roman Herzog will be followed on February 14 by the start of the C-B-R "Caravan-Boot-International Reisemarkt," which was a top crowd-puller at the fair's old Theresienhöhe site, overlooking the Oktoberfest grounds. Returns from this eight-day event are likely to give organizers a pretty clear idea of just how popular their new site and facilities are likely to be. That the planners and organizers have been economical is beyond dispute. The spartan layout of the 12 halls in the first phase at Riem may not win any architectural prizes, but it has helped the Messe München International GmbH to stay several hundred million marks within the DM 2 billion budget set for them. The simple, rectangular layout of the halls - totally lacking central support pillars - contributes to the flexibility , also a keynote of the new site. With 11,000 square meters of space in each hall, exhibitors have a free hand in setting up their displays unencumbered by architectural restrictions. Flexibility and economy have also been sensibly wedded in the planning of open space. Some 60, 000 square meters of space immediately adjoin the display halls, for fairs which require an open-air approach, and another 70,000 near the fair's northern entrance have been laid out in such a way that they can be used for exhibits or additional parking as needed. ENERGETIC UNDERTAKING One area in which no expense has been spared is communication. Acknowledging the demands of modern telecommunicat-ions, the fair taps into a high-speed data network that provides the possibility of bringing sound, data and pictures to computer terminals at all corners of the site. In entrance areas, display halls and the International Congress Center, (due to open at the end of 1998,) there are multimedia information terminals and each hall is fitted with 300 long-distance cable hookups and computer connection points. All this equipment will demand a huge amount of electricity, but here again no cost has been spared in finding an effective solution that will also satisfy any concerns about the ecological effect of such massive power production. Based on the precept that you have to speculate to accumulate, some DM 15 million have been invested in giving the Riem site the largest rooftop solar-energy pro-duction facility in the world. Solar panels and ancillary equipment will take up 60,000 square meters of roof space. It is estimated that the joint project, involving the Bavarian Electric Company, Siemens Solar and the city of Munich will have an energy output equal to the average annual electric consumption of more than 300 German households combined. for the Bavarian taxpayer, however, the most important statistics will be expressed in terms of the returns the city and state can expect from their "partnership" in Messe München International. Based on bookings from exhibitors and the demand for space in the International Conference Center, which has advance reservations up to the year 2005, Messe München boss Manfred Wutzlhofer is quietly confident. He's gone on record predicting that the annual turnover of DM 2.6 billion reached shortly before the Messe moved, will rapidly rise to a healthy DM 3.5 billion. TRAGEDY IN TRUDERING One of the few things which has not been completed on schedule is the subway service, but this was delayed by a tragic accident which no one could have anticipated when work on the new subway line started. All work came to a grinding halt three years ago when a section of tunneling suddenly collapsed in Trudering, engulfing a bus and claiming several lives. Various public inquiries held up construction for about two years, but workers have managed to catch up on lost time since the go-ahead was given for resumed tunneling and U-Bahn service should be in place by the summer of 1999. Even without the delay, getting the exhibitors and the public to the new site requires logistics almost as mighty as those for building the halls themselves. The Riem architects, however, have planned big. If visitors drive to the site, there are 8,000 parking places waiting to accommodate them. Taxi stands are located outside all the main entrances. Public transportation is already up and running, and the buses 91 from Max-Weber-Platz and 83 from Neuperlach stop right at the grounds' gates. Whether the move from Theresienhöhe to Riem was a "fair trade" for the trade fair, time alone will tell. In the meantime, many of the old buildings will remain empty, dreaming of their past glories, while Munich's city fathers decide the fate of the former fair site.

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