60 Wellington buildings shut

RNZ reports that 60 Wellington buildings are shut following the earthquakes, with a 10 storey building in Molesworth Street condemned and to be demolished.

A large office block in central Wellington will be demolished as a result of damage sustained in Monday morning’s earthquake, but it is not yet known when that might take place.

The 10-storey building – at 61 Molesworth Street – was cordoned off yesterday after engineers doing post-quake checks discovered a major structural beam had fractured “like a bone”.

Civil Defence said the unoccupied office building  had severe structural damage and was at risk of collapse.

Wellington officials appear to be trying to play down the effects but both he amount of damage and the indications of risks if a large earthquake struck much closer to Wellington can’t be ignored.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester estimated about 60 buildings in Wellington were now closed as a result of the earthquake.

Lester said the Molesworth Street building would need to be ‘deconstructed’ – that may be a technical term but it sounds like an attempt to make it sound not as bad.

But Wellington City Council building compliance and consent manager Mike Scott said the city had held up “extremely well”, given the size of the shake.

It was a very large earthquake, but it was centred some distance from Wellington, and was smaller than the largest recorded earthquake in New Zealand, in 1855 centred in the nearby Wairarapapa.

If I lived or worked in Wellington I’d be a bit concerned, but plenty of reassurances are being given.

Stuff: More buildings closed, as Wellington’s mayor declares CBD safe for the public

Wellington has returned to work almost as normal within three days of Monday’s earthquake – but questions are being asked as to whether we’ve rushed back too soon.

More buildings were closed on Wednesday as engineers continued their inspections around the city, leaving about 60 offices and apartment blocks shut.

None of those buildings were on the Wellington City Council’s recently published earthquake-prone list, leading one industry leader to suggest standards may need to be reviewed.

A Wellington City Council list of 663 earthquake-prone buildings, published on November 3, did not feature any of the damaged buildings.

There should be some serious reviews after this event.

Wellington Mayor Justin Lester said there were no public safety concerns. “I can assure people the CBD is safe in all public aspects, and remind them to stay away from cordoned-off areas.”

Institution of Professional Engineers NZ (IPENZ) chief executive Susan Freeman-Greene said every earthquake provided a lot of new information about how buildings performed.

“Engineers and others across the industry will need to work with councils and the Government to understand what this new information means for standards,” she said.

DAMAGED BUILDINGS:

* Statistics House (1 Harbour View Rd) – not listed as quake-prone
* NEC House (40 Taranaki St) – not listed
* Ministry of Defence HQ (2-12 Aitken St) – not listed
* Former Deloitte building (61 Molesworth St) – not listed
* BNZ building (60 Waterloo Quay) – not listed
* Tennyson apartment building (25 Tennyson St)  – not listed. But No 26 next door is listed, with an expiry date of 2024 to complete strengthening work
* Katherine Mansfield House (25 Tinakori Rd) – not listed
* Malvina Major retirement village (134 Burma Rd) – not listed