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Project:University of Canterbury Connon Hall Seismic Strengthening, Christchurch
Connon Hall is a student accommodation block at the University of Canterbury. It is a four-story brick building constructed in the 1970s, which sustained structural damage during the Canterbury Earthquakes. The initial structural solution involved significant excavations and demolition to the original concrete structure inside the building in order to replace it with a steel structure. Graeme was part of the Dominion team that proposed an alternative methodology at tender stage, one that saw the seismic structure being fixed to the outside of the building, a solution that provided time and cost benefits.
With a short time period being a key component of the project, the alternative approach was accepted, and Graeme was given two-days’ notice to start the nine-week programme over the summer break. It was imperative that the works be completed by the start of the 2019 academic year, as the Connon Hall beds were needed for students.
The job did not start well, with a break-in to the site occurring within the first week. The loss of gear and the two-days required to replace the stolen equipment saw morale drop. To lift team spirits, Graeme introduced family BBQs; while to make-up time, he used hydro-excavation extensively, and developed an innovative drilling methodology to fix the new steel SHS columns to the existing concrete columns. Along with speed, this created accuracy.
This was a small but complex build in terms of structural design, demanding accuracy and attention to detail, and delivered to an incredibly tight programme duration. To meet these demands, Graeme successfully implemented several innovative approaches and developed an inclusive and tight team culture. An above-and-beyond commitment by Graeme and his supporting family resulted in the strengthened and upgraded Connon Hall being completed one-week ahead of programme.