2011 40 Under 40: Li Yuan, PE, LEED AP, 39

General Manager-Asia Pacific Operations, exp, Maitland, Fla.


Li Yuan, PE, LEED AP, 39

General Manager-Asia Pacific Operations, exp, Maitland, Fla.

Tongji University (Shanghai, China), BS Thermal Engineering; Pennsylvania State University, MS Architectural Engineering

Yuan quite literally opened exp (formerly X-nth) to a whole new world when he became general manager of the China region. He joined the company in 2004 as a project engineer after obtaining his master’s degree in architectural engineering, and quickly proved that he had strong technical and managerial capabilities as well as a sharp and inventive mind. Yuan proposed a plan to partner with a local Chinese builder to gain access to nearly impossible-to-obtain design licenses in China. This allowed exp to establish operations in the country and offer an array of services to Chinese and international clients. He is in the unique position of working between two cultures; he serves not only as a translator, but as a cross-cultural communicator. For instance, when American clients wanted their standards to be translated into Mandarin Chinese, Yuan explained that the standards needed to be “localized” to make sense to a culture and not applied blindly through direct translation. His insight on localization is now a cornerstone of exp’s services in other international markets. He has a primary role in the development and improvement of best engineering practices in China within some of the most complex projects in the industry, and he often serves as project manager and principal-in-charge. He led the Strategic Master Plan for the Tianjin Economic Development Area, a 10-million-sq-ft project including biopharmaceutical manufacturing, research, and development facilities. He also directed the Peking University International Healthcare Group project, which included five scientific research buildings, totaling more than 1.6 million sq ft. Yuan oversaw exp’s submission in the International Invited Competition for the Urban Design of Tianjin International Biomedical Research, which won first place out of more than 40 entries. Despite his international lifestyle, he devotes plenty of time to his wife and son, with whom he enjoys visiting historical sites and playing with LEGOs.

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