Lateral thinking and innovative engineering solutions can have many spin-offs, particularly in terms of design benefits and cost savings. It was this attitude that helped save Auckland's Aotea Square ensuring it will be a jewel in the crown of Auckland's CBD for years to come, says Connal Townsend, chief executive of Property Council New Zealand.
"Property Council is always keen to promote significant developments that contribute to the city's infrastructure and create a wonderful asset for the people of Auckland. This project, which involved the work of several member companies of Property Council, including Holmes Consulting Group and Hawkins Construction, not only solved the problem of the faulty roof to the carpark under the square, but turned a disaster into a virtue."
Townsend says the extensive upgrade, which saw a new roof built above the original, and the entire podium raised, is also a recognition of the historical value of the site.
"Aotea Square was where the first settlers set up their tents. It was also from here that New Zealand soldiers marched down to the ships that would take them to fight battles for the Somme and Passchendaele. Protecting and improving on this public space is a great achievement, especially considering the time and budget constraints, and the fact that the carpark had to remain operational throughout the works programme."
For the structural engineering firm for the project, there were several key challenges. Holmes Consulting director Chris Mackenzie says the company had earlier participated in an Auckland City Council review of the precinct, when the council decided to redevelop the square as part of an overall civic upgrade.
"We had already reviewed a number of options to repair leaks and elements of the existing car park roof, which had been built 30 years earlier," he says. "Now we also needed to take into account that the redeveloped Aotea Square needed to support a much greater range of community activities and events. It needed to be able to take landscaping, significant traffic loads and temporary stands, for example."