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How much concrete is used on the island of Manhattan?

Anonymous A

I'm interested in seeing a structure to a question that appears impossible/overwhelming , such as

"How much concrete is used on the island of Manhattan?"

How granular of a level is both reasonable for the interviewee and satisfactory as an answer for the interviewer?

(edited)

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Andrea
Expert
replied on 04/02/2018
Former BCG decision round interviewer with 300+ real interviews in 8 years

To elaborate on other answer, for each block then you take an assumption of what is empty vs. Concrete volume by multiplying the width and length of block by the avg height of building and then assuming a “density factor” (I.e. how much space in a cubic meter is concrete vs. Empty) and then multiply by the number of blocks with the distinction of high vs low density.

Andrea

Vlad replied on 04/02/2018
McKinsey / Accenture / Got all BIG3 offers / More than 300 real MBB cases / Harvard Business School

Hi,

  • You can calculate the number of blocks (Streets an avenues on Manhattan) and the usage of concrete per block.
  • I would split Manhattan blocks into 2 types with heavy (skyscrapers) and non-heavy construction and estimate the usage of concrete in each type of the blocks.
  • Don't forget to subtract Central Park from the total number of blocks

Best

Francesco replied on 04/03/2018
Ex BCG | MBB Specialist | #1 Expert for coaching sessions (1400+) and recommendation rate (100%)

Hi Anonymous,

you can consider the following steps:

  1. Identify where concrete is used; as besides buildings its main use is for bridges and other viability infrastructure, you could probably consider buildings only if the interviewer agrees
  2. Estimate the number of districts of NY with concrete. You should not includes parks and other parts without buildings
  3. Estimate the number of units using concrete per district – eg how many buildings per district
  4. Estimate the amount of concrete per building as percentage of the total volume of the building walls
  5. Multiply 2*3*4 for each segment identified in step 1

Best,

Francesco

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