Wellington damage heralds building review

Design standards are to be reviewed following the poor performance of a CentrePort Wellington building in last November’s earthquake. Credit: CentrePort. Design standards are to be reviewed following the poor performance of a CentrePort Wellington building in last November’s earthquake. Credit: CentrePort.

New Zealand’s Building and Construction Minister Nick Smith has declared that design standards and building laws need to be reviewed following a recent technical investigation into the poor performance of a CentrePort Wellington building in last November’s earthquake.

Mr Smith said further seismic research on geological basin effects needs to be considered within a review of the Earthquake Actions Standard, with officials also asked to report on a building law issue raised by the report.

“The performance of Statistics House in the Kaikoura earthquake was unacceptable and could have caused fatalities,” said the minister. “This quake was large and unusually long, but a modern building like Statistics House should not have had life-threatening structural damage.

“The building was designed to the industry practice of the time but this did not fully account for the effects of beam elongation during an earthquake, an issue that was deficient in the Concrete Structures Standard at the time of the design.

“The design flaw is quite specific to highly-ductile-framed concrete buildings with precast floor slabs and particularly those with multi-bay frames.”

CentrePort is to make a decision on the future of Statistics House once its engineers and insurers complete their deliberations. It is also working with engineers, insurers and tenants on the future of the damaged BNZ Building, Customs House and Shed 39 buildings.

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