At the start of last month, the owners denied that Defence House in Aitken Street would be demolished. But yesterday it was a different story.
Buried in the middle of a meandering media release from the NZ Defence Force was this news:
This week, AMP Capital advised the NZDF that it was going to demolish Defence House. AMP Capital advises that the building can be repaired but that the cost of repairs is not economically viable. As Defence House does not present any immediate health and safety risk, the demolition will be completed by “deconstruction” – meaning that the building will be taken apart in a controlled manner. Long-term accommodation options for the NZDF and MoD in Wellington are under consideration, as we work out of our interim accommodation.
Leviathan writes on eyeofthefish that there is to be an official report about the state of the “defenseless building”, but it has been delayed till April:
it is fair enough that Wellingtonians get upset about this forthcoming demolition – [it’s a] new building after all, just a decade old, and therefore, broadly speaking, the same system as other modern buildings are being built today. In short: the public will (or already has?) lose faith in the ability of architects and especially engineers to provide a decent stable structural solution…
The building looks untouched from the outside. The precast cladding panels and double glazed windows are still in impeccable condition. There are a few cracked tiles in one corner, and a disturbing lump in the pavement up the street opposite, and the blinds are all drawn, but you wouldn’t really know a thing was wrong with the building otherwise… I had thought that maybe, like a few other recent buildings in town, the services in the ceiling had collapsed and brought the ceiling tiles down on top of the desks, setting off the sprinklers etc. But we heard today a quite startling thing – that it had fallen off its base isolation. I’m staggered on two points – one, that it was base isolated in the first place, but secondly – that a building could actually “jump off” its base isolated foundations…
I’m not sure whether I believe either of those stories – but … if the building was in fact base isolated then this could also explain what happened – there wasn’t an adequate movement joint installed around the edge of the building and so when the building swayed on its rubber piles, it effectively ran into a solid wall and battered itself off its own feet. It was, literally, left defenseless.
When Prime Minister Helen Clark opened the new seven-storey building on 28 March 2007, reports highlighted energy efficiency, with no mention of seismic strength.
Its architects’ website says it was built to high seismic and security standards. But there is no further information on the building’s seismic rating. Expect such details in the official report next month.