St David’s 2 receives $9.65 million upgrade to not fall

Foundation Studies ironically abandon earthquake prone building

St David’s 2 will become the new home to the Department of Applied Science following a $9.65 million upgrade necessary to increase the building’s earthquake safety rating. Originally constructed in 1997 and formerly used for Foundation Studies, the building was measured in 2014 to be at 34 per cent of New Zealand’s current building standards for earthquake strength.

Critic spoke with Director of Property Services Barry MacKay, who said once the reconstruction is completed the building “will be strengthened to 100 per cent of NBS (New Building Standard).” The rebuild will see staff offices, meeting rooms, laboratories, study and specialist spaces built as part of the project. Toilet facilities will also be reconfigured and added to each floor, but MacKay assured Critic that “no student disruptions are expected as the building is not currently in use.”

With a completion date of June 2015, construction is divided into two parts with stage one, seismic strengthening, ready to commence. This will include “rebuilding the main stairwells, freeing up space within the building. Stage two will see the “fit-out for Applied Sciences” and will see the existing building “provided with a better ‘identity’ and improved access.” This includes a new entry space and wind lobby, and the frontage will also be extended with integrated signage “providing visual identity from the street.”

The re-construction of the building is part of the University’s Seismic Strengthening Policy, created in 2012. As part of the policy the University “embarked on a Seismic Assessment Program to obtain assessments for each building.” Buildings found to be earthquake prone “will have priority for strengthening to at least 67 per cent.” All buildings less than 15 per cent will be evacuated and “immediate and appropriate remedial action will be taken.” Mackay said all Residential Colleges will “be strengthened to at least 67 per cent NBS and as close to 100 per cent NBS as practicable,” regardless of whether or not they are found to be earthquake prone. With $50 million set aside for appropriate upgrades, the project is set to run until 2019.

Critic’s attempts to contact Prof Raechel Laing, head of the Department of Applied Sciences, regarding the move was stymied by the University’s Communications Office who, in their words, “looked after the Barry MacKay related questions, but forgot about the Raechel Laing one.” The Office suggested, “You might be best to report [Prof Laing’s] quoted comments in the ODT.” In that vain, Prof Laing said the prospect of a “purpose-built” facility was “marvellous” and would open up many new opportunities, according to the ODT.
This article first appeared in Issue 13, 2014.
Posted 2:07pm Sunday 25th May 2014 by Laura Munro.