Opus International Consultants are finalists in the 2009 New Zealand Engineering Excellence Award, Building and Construction category, after impressing judges with their original design solutions for the new Gisborne Police Station Project.
“This is a great opportunity for the engineers to put their hands up and tell us about the great work they have done over the past few years”, says Andrew Cleland, Chief Executive at the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ).
When the New Zealand Police decided to build a new Police Station in the centre of Gisborne, Opus were commissioned to find an appropriate solution for their high profile site which was occupied by a notable historic building.
The desire to retain the heritage façade presented a number of challenges for the engineers due to the very soft ground conditions and other complexities such as earthquake protection that exceeded those of conventional buildings.
The project team was confronted with a conundrum: the soft ground would cause significant subsidence of a new building, yet extensive site testing could not be carried out as it would have damaged the historic building. Furthermore, budget and time constraints precluded traditional foundation options.
Opus addressed these obstacles with an innovative solution featuring modified settlement reduction steel screw piles which carried only part of the building load and a reinforced concrete raft foundation which carried the rest of the load. Sophisticated analysis and testing confirmed the team’s assumptions and paved the way for this novel settlement reduction. It is considered a world first for steel screw piles to be used in this manner. The clever foundation design eliminated significant construction risks, sped up the project and delivered substantial cost savings compared to conventional solutions.
Shortly after construction, the new building survived a rigorous 6.8 Richter earthquake (Dec. 07) without damage.
The New Zealand Engineering Excellence Awards will be held on Wednesday 25 November in Wellington.