Detailed modelling of the heritage-listed Harcourt building on Lambton Quay showed it was liable to twist in an earthquake and its steel framework provided little bracing, the Environment Court was told today.
Engineer Ian Smith was giving evidence for Wellington developer Mark Dunajtshik, who is appealing a Wellington City Council ruling that prevented him from demolishing the now all-but vacant building.
Mr Smith said the building was designed and built in the 1920s before minimum seismic codes were established in the 1930s.
It was very heavy, it had an irregularly shaped ground floor structure, its foundations were suspect and unless it was strengthened it was unsafe.
The building was about 15 per cent of the new building standard seismic code.
Cracking around the ground floor and basement caused by recent quakes indicated the building had twisted as the computer model predicted.
This cracking showed the building had lost some of its former strength and this could not be restored by filling the cracks with epoxy.
Mr Smith said he was the only engineer to do a detailed analysis of the building, where other engineers, who had given it a higher rating, had only done rule of thumb assessments.
The building could be strengthened but cost was another matter.
The hearing is set to continue all week.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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