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March 14, 2011 | by  | in News | [ssba]

Wellington Buildings on Shaky Ground

Wellington is definitely the capital of the Shaky Isles according to a list of earthquake-prone buildings recently released.

The aftermath of the Christchurch earthquake has encouraged many cities to now investigate the safety their public buildings.
The collapse of the Christchurch Television and Pyne Gould Corporation buildings in Christchurch prompted United Future leader, Peter Dunne, to call for a list of earthquake-prone buildings in Wellington.

“I think there is a fundamental public right to know the status of a building they might be working in or using frequently,” Mr Dunne said.
In response, the Wellington City Council (WCC) released a list of public and commercial buildings in the city which are earthquake-prone should a large quake hit the capital.
The list shows 808 buildings which the Council has identified as at risk in a major quake. Of these, 172 need urgent strengthening.

The list shows that if strengthening is not carried out it is plausible that whole streets could disappear. Most at risk are Cuba Street, Willis Street and Courtenay Place.
The Christchurch quake has also prompted WCC to review its earthquake policies and implementation requirements later
this month.

The WCC implemented the Earthquake-Prone Buildings Policy in 2009 which created an evaluation process and set timelines for the strengthening of at-risk buildings.
Wellington City Mayor, Celia Wade-Brown, says it is well known that hundreds of buildings around the city have been strengthened over the past two decades—including major public buildings like Parliament, the Embassy, the City Gallery and the Town Hall.

Victoria University of Wellington has also reacted to the devastation of the Christchurch quake.
“In 2010, an assessment of all our buildings was undertaken by external seismic engineers and all our major buildings are above the current earthquake prone building standards,” Jenny Bentley, Director of Campus Services says.

“We continue to take a proactive approach and are working to increase our buildings earthquake resilience even further.”
This contradicts the list released by the Council which names 50 Kelburn Parade (School of Maori Studies) and 42-44 Kelburn Parade (Accommodation Service) as “Potentially Earthquake-Prone.”

Bentley disputes this.
“The list published did not take into account the most up-to-date information about these buildings. They are not classified as earthquake prone,” she says.
Earthquake strengthening is also an important part of the redevelopment of the Kelburn Campus.

“The Alan MacDiarmid Building, for example, uses a precast seismic structural system that allows controlled rocking of the building’s joints during an earthquake, softening its blow but springing the building back to upright without significant structural damage, even after a major seismic event,” Bentley says.


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  1. SJR says:

    I don’t like how the insides of our lecture theatres are made of bricks in Kelburn…

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