Prof Elwood to lead Central Library experts

31 July 2019

Wellington City Council is pleased to announce that Professor Ken Elwood, Faculty of Engineering, The University of Auckland, has agreed to lead the process of facilitating a group of construction and engineering industry experts in finding the right way forward for the Central Library building.

Professor Ken Ellwood.

Professor Ken Ellwood. Photo: Jonny Knopp

Chief Executive Kevin Lavery said he’s extremely happy to have Professor Elwood on the project as an independent specialist. “His considerable expertise will be invaluable in helping the Council continue to gather and consider the wide variety of industry perspectives on the Library’s structural vulnerabilities.

“The challenges are complex and we need to fully understand these so that we can find the right solution for the future of this prominent Wellington building.” 

Professor Elwood also serves as the Research Director of QuakeCoRE: NZ Centre for Earthquake Resilience and is actively involved in research related to the seismic response of existing concrete and masonry buildings.

 

He spent 11 years on the faculty at the University of British Columbia, Canada, and is also a member of several national and international code committees including the seismic provisions of the American Concrete Institute Building Code (ACI 318) and the Board of Directors of the International Association for Earthquake Engineering (IAEE). He is currently working on the BRANZ/EQC/ConcreteNZ-funded project to develop and validate retrofit solutions for precast floors.

The Council made its decision to close the Central Library on 19 March to protect the safety of customers and staff following the findings of an engineering report it commissioned from Aurecon Engineering. The report was reviewed and the findings confirmed by WSP OPUS in May this year. The report found the building had structural vulnerabilities which meant it may not perform well in the event of a significant earthquake. 

Professor Elwood will be working to plan the stages of an inclusive process where industry experts can join with the Council to explore the findings of the report and help identify the ideas and themes presented. The group will be encouraged to give their views in relation to finding potential remedial engineering and construction solutions.

The Council and Professor Elwood will then be able to scope the potential remedial options for the Library including indicative costs. There will most likely be a further peer review of this advice which will ultimately inform a report back to the Council. Mr Lavery said the process must be rigorous and thorough, and is expected to take two to three months.

Library services remain open for business in the central city. Since opening on 28 May, Arapaki Manners Library and Service Centre has seen more than 33,000 visitors who have recorded a 92 percent satisfaction rate. The Council is finalising leases on the two remaining CBD sites and is on track to have them opening later this year.