Winner 2022

Award for
a technically impressive and well communicated response to save a public building after earthquake damage

Project Description

A sensitive seismic repair project to the inside of a working library following significant damage in the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake. Base isolating an occupied building’s lift shafts was an unusual challenge and potentially a world first. It required creative thinking to overcome the constraints of a short timeframe and incredibly tight site within the building. There was also a significant carbon dividend, as restoring full use of the lifts was far more sustainable than demolishing and building a replacement library, which was a serious consideration.

Judge’s comments

Great pains have been taken to restore this library following earthquake damage and the efforts to justify the building through repairs and upgrade are admirable, providing enormous savings on the alternative of new construction. The design implemented improvements beyond code requirements under severe working constraints as the library remained in use throughout.

There was impressive communication of the engineer’s role in the process at a digestible level for everyone involved to understand. This communication of the complex works to building users throughout the project stands out as a good example of the importance of our profession: teamwork, communication, collaboration and responsiveness.  

Project overview

Structural Designer

  • Beca

Client Name

  • Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington


  • Wellington, New Zealand


  • Athfield Architects

Principal Contractor

  • LT McGuinness

Key Contractors

  • MJH Engineering Limited – Steelwork Subcontractor

    Beca – Building Services

    RLB – Quantity Surveyor

    Holmes Fire – Fire Engineering

Year Submitted

  • 2022

Key attributes

  • Profession, People