Temporary venue found for Capital E workshops

OLIVIA WANNAN
Last updated 05:00 20/11/2012
Capital E
CRAIG SIMCOX/Fairfax NZ
CAPITAL E: Temporarily closed.

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The yellow-stickered Capital E building remains closed, though its children's workshops will go ahead in a new venue.

The centre closed to the public on November 9, after a Holmes Consulting draft engineering report concluded the building was earthquake-prone, meeting less than 33 per cent of the new building standard.

The Wellington Museums Trust, Capital E management and building owner Wellington City Council would be working together this week to determine whether the organisation could operate in the building again in the new year, trust chief executive Pat Stuart said.

Meanwhile, Capital E has hired space at the Railway Station Social Hall on Waterloo Quay to run its programmes, OnTV and SoundHouse, from next Monday.

"These two programmes are very popular at this time of year, particularly for groups of schools visiting from outside Wellington," Ms Stuart said. "This gives us a bit of time to consider what comes next."

The draft report, finalised on Friday, tested the building's seismic strength using computer models of a one-in-1000-year earthquake, Wellington City Council earthquake resilience manager Neville Brown said.

This modelling found a lack of structural integrity in the building's external walls and a risk the plaza above could collapse. Potential structural improvements, such as additional bracing and flexible beamwork, were suggested.

However, Mr Brown said until the full engineering report was released in January, the exact nature of the remedial work would not be known, though the cost would likely be "substantial".

"The important thing to note in this is that the report is not saying the building is dangerous. It remains appropriate to continue to operate as it always has . . . and is still safe to occupy."

The draft engineering report came after Capital E conducted a review of the building's suitability for its programmes.

The review, commissioned in 2010, concluded the building was inappropriate, as it had leaks, issues with noise, no lift, a difficult layout and low ceilings.

It stated the lack of planning in the original design contributed to its low seismic rating and noted the refurbishment was likely to be a multimillion-dollar project.

The Capital E building was constructed in 1991. Capital E began operating as a workshop and exhibition space in 1997.

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- The Dominion Post

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