Wellington Scoop

Mayor favours strengthening library, but cost could be $100m

Report from RNZ
Wellington mayor Justin Lester says that making the Central Library earthquake-safe could cost more than $100 million.

The building was closed in March following engineering advice, and the council says detailed plans and costs are at least a year away.

Mayor Justin Lester said today his first priority was to strengthen the building, rather than pull it down.

He said initial advice showed getting it to 100 percent of code would likely require base-isolation – and all the options were expensive.

“Potentially more than $100 million, but with uncertainty around it. So that’s very early level concept figures and that’s why we need to do more work, and that’s why it also brings in the question of the future of the building.”

Mr Lester said he was not interested in partnering with a private developer to bring down the costs of strengthening or rebuilding, because libraries were a public service and should remain in public ownership.

May 10: Justin Lester says demolition likely for library


  1. Henry Filth, 13. July 2019, 20:35

    I imagine that the plans still exist, so why not knock it down then rebuild it – properly this time.

  2. JennyKay, 14. July 2019, 13:50

    Even if it costs $100M I want to see the WCC Central Library restored for the benefit of all Wellingtonians and visitors. Even people who don’t use the library for books or resources or Wifi benefit from its community impacts. [via twitter]

  3. Tom, 14. July 2019, 15:14

    If Lester is saying $100m today, I would expect that figure to at least double by this time next year. The Town Hall is costing in excess of $100m to base isolate – that building is half the size of the library.

    Lester might be saying that his first priority is to retain the current building, but surely demolition and rebuild will soon be seen as the only viable options.

  4. Donald T., 14. July 2019, 17:26

    Well at $100million it works out at $666 for everybody living in Wellington City. Given that new books cost around $20, Justin could give everybody a voucher for 15 books from Unity and we’d save collectively a cool $50 million.

  5. Douglas C, 14. July 2019, 17:32

    The option to reopen the library also exists and is the cheapest and smartest option (not given).

  6. Northland, 14. July 2019, 17:34

    Is anyone able to clarify why the cost for base isolation equals $100m ? Is it an inherent cost for this type of solution or because of the retro-fitting?

    Can the building not be strengthened in a similar fashion to other strengthening works that have been undertaken around town ie steel beams etc. Any engineers care to comment?

  7. Leviathan, 14. July 2019, 18:26

    Northland – There is a useful article about the Library on Eye of the Fish.
    And one on base isolation as well.

  8. Mary M, 14. July 2019, 18:50

    But why even suggest putting in base isolators? The sandy soft soil means base isolators for the Library are probably not suitable. The first step is to determine whether the (reclaimed) ground can be expected to cause liquefaction (that does not take a year either).