State-of-the-art Earthquake testing facility wins top construction award

Supreme winner - Auckland University Faculty of Engineering Building 906.

Supreme winner – Auckland University Faculty of Engineering Building 906.

Auckland University’s new Faculty of Engineering Research, Building 906, home to one of Australasia’s largest earthquake testing facilities, was named Supreme Award winner at the recent New Zealand Commercial Project Awards, held in Auckland.

Created by the team of Scarbro Construction, Jasmax Architects, and engineers RCP, the newly constructed Civil Engineering Test Facility – housing a nine-metre structure test hall capable of earthquake testing buildings up to three storeys – took out the top prize against 61 of the country’s premium commercial properties vying for awards.

Building 906 impressed judges with its “deceptively simple” concrete structure with a unitised glazed façade which at once provides a visual transparency to the campus activities and engages with the surroundings. The former Lion Breweries site has been transformed into a learning hub for the future, complete with state-of-the-art labs, workshops, and office spaces, including solar chimneys for natural ventilation, while the building’s hero – the Test Hall – offers the local and international building industry Australasia’s largest seismic testing facility.

Judges praised the building as “an exemplar in concrete construction – both pre-cast and in-situ – with massive wall and floor components constructed to exacting dimensional tolerances” while also giving special mention to the “innovative construction solutions” found because of the close and positive relationship between the client, builder and consultant teams.

Says the judging panel: “This is a building that does not shout out, look at me, but has a prominence and air of strength and resonance within the environment to which it resides. A building that took collaboration to another level. A building that dealt with 3000 litres of pumped water every day of its construction.

“The outputs from this building has considerable influence in our industry in testing of structural elements, that make structure more ductile when under loads, such as earthquakes and day-to-day load performance.”

As well as the Supreme Award, Building 906 also took out the ‘Education’ category award, a Gold Award and the value award for top property over $15 million.

Canterbury took out a slew of awards with projects from the region winning six Gold Awards, five Category, Value or Special wins, plus a large number of Silver and Bronze. Auckland’s new commercial builds also impressed judges, with eight Golds, four Category and Value Awards, six Silvers and three Bronze, awarded to projects in the city, while this year, the capital’s commercial projects secured four Golds, one Category, two Silvers and a Bronze.

Awards spokesperson Greg Pritchard says that with double the number of entries on last year – and the standard of entries so high – judging was a challenging process. But the winners stood out for their innovative approach, their prowess in the builds and the collaboration they showed across the team.

“These Awards showcase the very best in New Zealand’s commercial property sector, with winning teams displaying excellence across all aspects of the project – from communication between the team and client to design and build.”

Other winners around the country included the new Child Cancer Foundation in Christchurch, which received a Special Award and Gold award – Timaru’s new Aoraki Development, which also received a Special Award, Tauranga’s new radiotherapy unit, the Kathleen Kilgour Centre, which won the NALCO Health Award, and Dunedin’s newly restored Esplanade at St Clair Beach, which took out a Gold Award and the value award under $2 million.

Category winners are:

Education: University of Auckland Faculty of Engineering Research Building 906, Auckland (entered by Scarbo Construction) – Gold.

NALCO Health: Kathleen Kilgour Centre Radiotherapy Unit, Tauranga (entered by Fletcher Construction) – Gold.

Industrial: Mainfreight Christchurch (entered by Dominion Constructors/Leighs Construction Joint Venture) – Silver.

Heritage/Restoration: Christ’s College Hare Memorial Library Restoration, Christchurch (entered by Naylor Love Construction) – Gold and Value Award $2-$5 million.

Winstone Wallboards Residential: Marshall Court Redevelopment, Wellington (entered by Maycroft Construction) – Silver.

Retail: Ebbett Audi Volkswagon, Hamilton (entered by Livingstone Building NZ//Chow:Hill Joint Venture) – Gold.

PlaceMakers Tourism and Leisure: Aro Ha Wellness Retreat, Glenorchy (entered by Triple Star Management Ltd) – Gold.

James Hardie Commercial and Civic: Devonport Library, Auckland (entered by Naylor Love Construction) – Gold and Allied Concrete Value Award $5-$15 million.

Value Award Under $2 million: The Esplanade, Dunedin (entered by W Hamilton Building) – Gold.

The New Zealand Commercial Project Awards is owned by Registered Master Builders Association and is supported by a national sponsor family of PlaceMakers, James Hardie, GIB, NALCO and Allied Concrete.

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