HUDDART PARKER BUILDING

PROJECT TYPE: HERITAGE

USE: COMMERCIAL

LOCATION: WELLINGTON CBD

CLIENT: HUDDART PARKER LIMITED

ARCHITECTS: SEDDON ARCHITECTS

PROJECT TIMEFRAME: 2012-2013

In 2012, the Huddart Parker office block was tired and facing an uncertain future. It was one of the country’s first fully-reinforced buildings when built for the Huddart Parker shipping company between 1925 and 1928. But by 2012 standards, its seismic rating stood at just 29 percent.

Designed in the Chicago style, the existing exterior was to remain untouched during re-strengthening, apart from a fresh coat of paint. All the seismic works had to be completed inside the building.

Whole floor plates were separated from the supporting exterior walls by suspending them with tension rods from the floors above. The new reinforced concrete columns installed around the interior meant the original exterior load-bearing walls effectively became a heavy veneer.

The ends of cross beams were strengthened with carbon fibre wrapping, a task that meant over 1 kilometre of concrete cuts. Nearly all Wellington concrete cutting firms were on site at some stage. During the 11-month construction, over 170 tonnes of reinforcing and 800 cubic metres of concrete were humped into the building without a crane.

Completing the new concrete beams and columns using a reinforcing detail to these junctions was the first seismic procedure of its kind in New Zealand. A third lift was also added, toilets, access and other services were improved, and ventilation and heating were enhanced. High studs on each floor allow for good natural light and harbour views.

With the building strengthened to 100 percent of the new building standard, tenants including Stout Street Chambers and Charley Noble’s Eatery and Bar were quick to move in. Building owner Michael Gaffaney was very pleased with the end result and praised all the consultants and contractors on the project led by LT McGuinness.

For everyone it was satisfying to know that such a notable heritage building has been preserved in such good shape. The Dominion Post newspaper headed its story about the project, ‘Huddart building better than new’.