WHAT HAPPENED TO OUR WOODEN BUILDING?

Three years ago there was a splash of publicity about my company building a wooden structure high-rise office-building in Wellington. Subsequently people frequently asked me what happened to this.

The photo below shows a current ariel shot from our offices. Soon the roof will go on and that’s the last we will see of its wooden content other than some floors for ornamental reasons.

It will look like any other building (with one qualification I’ll come to) as the wooden component applies to its structural columns’ and beams’ components.

These have superior fire and earthquake resistant qualities. As they comprise laminated timber, in a fire at worst they simply char, whereas conventional steel or reinforced steel enclosed in concrete will buckle.

We are not developers but wanted the site, but not the dog on it, thus this new construction.

The qualification to it looking like any other building alluded to above, is it will look immensely better than most other buildings. Why? Because I designed it. We then employed architects to draw up the plans.

Sydney’s CBD has been ruined by ugly new high-rise glass boxes, so too increasingly in Auckland and Wellington. In the latter city’s case, completely unnecessarily, office buildings have been built recently with criss-cross steel beams on earthquake strengthening grounds. It’s madness and pays no regard to the occupants who do not want to gaze at such hideousness, nor is it necessary.

Anyway, our building will be finished in March next year.

Some years ago I wrote about the high incidence of architects’ wives running off with rubbish collectors, beggars, stop-go sign holders and the like. Trust me, it’s totally explicable and all about in our CBDs you can see the reason why.

I refer of course, solely to commercial building architects who to a man (there are no women office-building architects in my experience) are mind-blowingly dreary buggers and insist on proving it with their output.

11 Comments

Great work. That used to be the old NML building on Featherston Street. I was an in-frequent visitor when I worked in the old wooden Government Building in the ’80s. A dreary warren of desks and ’60s era partitions populated by beige Public Servant paper-pushers. Long overdue for a revamp and makeover.

Hi Bob,
Thanks very much I enjoyed this post and I’d wondered about the wooden bldg. project for some time. We’re not Wellingtoniansl but we love that city. Perhaps you could show a few more photos please, showing a couple of stages. Do you think you’ll have an open day for those of your readers who’d be interested when it is completed??
Cannot help but wonder how the architects’ frisky wives have been coping during covid in their different situations 🤣.
Cheers

Great points Bob,
I am very interested in seeing Mass Timber become more readily accepted as a high performing structural substrate.
I tried to get involved with the Auckland City Mission and hope to do a walk through the project nex week.
Thanks for thinking outside the box

That’s great Bob. As a builder I was interested that you would consider this construction – the first of what I expect will be many more.
Speed in construction is everything!

Great to see what you have done Sir Bob , well done, and all you need to do to complete the build is put down some natural woollen carpets !

Sir Bob, it is impressive to see you embracing ‘wood’ as a commerical building material. As we rightly or wrongly move to a carbon economy, wood will not only beat concrete and steel hands down for performance in fire and earthquake but also in terms of sustainability as a building material. And we grow plenty of it right here in Godzone!

I look forward to seeing it completed, so I can evaluate your taste.

Well done Bob. You are a genuine leader and climate change hero for building in wood and sequestering carbon long term.

I once had a friend with an “ariel” motorbike – but no timber on that….

Most exciting.

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