Web Banner Tairawhiti

Design flaws: new building proposed

6 Mar 2015

Design flaws: new building proposed

Council is disappointed that the extension to the council administration building in 2001 was found to have severe enough design flaws that staff had to be moved to 2 external sites in 2011, says Mayor Meng Foon,

“But we need to move on and make sure our staff and community are safe.

“After considering options to strengthen the building, build a new building or relocate council offices to another site the most economical option was to stay at the Fitzherbert site and rebuild a completely new fit for purpose building,” says Mayor Foon.

“We’ll be considering this option with the community as part of consultation on the long term plan due to start 16 March.”

In 2001, Robert Cecil (Bob) Hall MIPENZ designed an office buildings for Gisborne District Council at 15 Fitzherbert Street, Gisborne.

An assessment of the seismic performance of the entire council office complex was completed by engineers in 2011. 

“This assessment assigned a rating of 28% of the new building standard to the building designed by Mr Hall,” says group manager engineering and works and deputy chief executive Peter Higgs.

“A second opinion generally confirmed the first assessment to be at an even lower rating of 23%. Due to these assessments the building is currently disused.

“Council made a complaint to the Institute of Professional Engineers of NZ (IPENZ) on the basis that we expected a building designed in 2001 to perform to a higher standard.”

The building was designed prior to the Chartered Professional Engineers of New Zealand Act 2002, so the Disciplinary Committee (DC) was only able to consider the complaint in regard to the IPENZ jurisdiction.

“The DC found Mr Hall’s engineering work fell well short of the standard required and he failed to exercise the amount of care and skill required for a professional engineer of his training and experience,” says Mr Higgs.

“On that basis, the DC concluded that Mr Hall failed to meet the requirements of IPENZ Rule 4.3 as well as clause 70 of the IPENZ Regulations for Competence Registers because he failed to “perform his engineering activities in a careful and competent manner”.”

The DC concluded that these matters were of sufficient gravity to warrant Mr Hall being disciplined under the provisions of IPENZ Rule 11 and noted that the council was concerned Mr Hall was also responsible for the design of an apartment building in Gisborne that suffered damage in the 2007 Gisborne earthquake. This collapse was the subject of a previous disciplinary hearing in 2011.

On that occasion, the DC decided that Mr Hall “had acted in contravention of the obligation that a member must perform his/her engineering activities in a careful and competent manner, commensurate with his/her standing in the Institution."

Mr Hall was admonished but no costs were ordered and his name wasn’t published. This is relevant to the consideration of penalty only.

Mr Hall was fined $1,500 and asked to contribute $6,000 in costs incurred by the Institution.

Council is not able to seek compensation as the original contract was for a “design and build” contract.

“As such the contract was with a building contractor not the design engineer. The contracting company no longer operates.

“Also the discovery of the fault was more than 10 years after the event and Council is unable to pursue the matter further.”