Major Project Rebuild

Fitzherbert Rebuild Project

Questions and answers

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Frequently asked questions

Questions and answers to guide you through the steps of the rebuild of Gisborne District Council's Fitzherbert Street administration centre.

1. How many buildings were at the Fitzherbert Street site?

There were 3 main buildings that made up the administration centre.

  • 1954 building
  • 1980 building
  • 2001 building

There's also a stand-alone office and the Lawson Field Theatre.

Buildings dated

2. What is IL2 and IL4 and why does it matter to Council buildings?

ILs are building 'Importance Levels' for structural loading standards set by the New Zealand Building Code (AS/NZS 1170).

Different buildings have different IL requirements depending on the activity that happens within the building and the activity’s significance. For example schools or hospitals require a higher IL as these buildings are critical to post-disaster recovery.

Council’s building must have some designated IL4 area for civil defence emergencies and critical post-disaster recovery also see question 7.

Council’s Earthquake Prone Building Policy states buildings that are of Importance Level 2 (IL2) and Level 4 (iL4) should be two-thirds of the current structural loading standard, approximately 67%, but where possible 100%.

For more information about Importance Levels - visit www.building.govt.nz

3. What were the earthquake strengths of the Fitzherbert Street buildings?

Structure IL2 IL4 Document Reference
1954 building 33% 19% see 1A and 1B - Background Documents
1980 building 63-87% 35-48% see 1N
2001 building 23% 13% see 1N

This plan shows the buildings with the earthquake strength [PDF, 4.4 MB] 

4. What strength should the administration buildings have been?

Council’s Earthquake Prone Building Policy states buildings should be two-thirds of the current structural loading standard, approximately 67% of their respective Importance Level (IL), but where possible 100%. The legal minimum requirement is 34% of New Building Standards (NBS).

Council is assessed under the New Zealand Building Code as being critical to post-disaster recovery and needs to at least in part built to IL4.

Earthquake Prone Building Policy - section 1.7 Strengthening Criteria states:

The Gisborne District Council requires buildings, or parts of buildings, as identified in the priorities section of this policy, to be strengthened to as near as reasonably practicable to the current structural loading standard. The GDC accepts that a level of at least two thirds of the current structural loading code will satisfy this requirement. The Gisborne District Council encourages building owners to strengthen to 100% of NBS if it is achievable.

5. How many engineering firms assessed the buildings? 

Four independent engineering firms have assessed the 1954, 1980 and 2011 building - Opus, Design Phase, Clendon Burns Park, Strata Group and one industry professional group - the Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand (IPENZ).

6. What seismic assessments were done on each building and why?

1954 Building

July 2011 – Initial Evaluation Procedure (IEP) by Strata Group refer document 1A 
Sep 2011 – Detailed Engineering Evaluation (DEE) by Design Phase Civil refer document 1B

In response to the Christchurch earthquake and the risk associated with buildings built prior to 1976 the building was assessed and found to be 19% of the standard for IL4 (33% of the standard for IL2). The other buildings weren’t tested at the time because they were built after 1976 when the building code was changed.

1980 Building

Dec 2012 – Detailed Engineering Evaluation by 2 separate offices of Opus refer document 1N.

While considering demolition and staff relocation of the 1954 building the other buildings were tested for safety. 

2001 Building

Dec 2012 – Detailed Engineering Evaluation by 2 separate offices of Opus refer.
March 2012 – Detailed Engineering Evaluation peer review by Clendon Burns Park. 
March 2014 – Investigation and review by IPENZ completed
Refer to documents 1N and 2I.

Severe structural issues were found in the 2001 building, well below the national building standard and both buildings (1980 and 2001) were found to be below the standard of Council’s building policy.

A formal complaint against the 2001 building designer was laid with the industry organisation. The complaint was upheld.

Lawson Field Theatre

Dec 2012 – Detailed Engineering Evaluation by 2 separate offices of Opus.
March 2012 – Detailed Engineering Evaluation peer review by Clendon Burns Park
refer to document 1N

The building was also found to be earthquake prone, 29% of IL3 or 38% of IL2.  As a public facility that can house a large number of people it needs to be strengthened to at least 67% of IL3. 

7. How is Council used in a civil defence emergency?

During an emergency Council becomes a central hub for staff and emergency services to work from, so the buildings needs to be safe. Up to 100 staff can be on-site working in an emergency.

For example during the December 2007 earthquake, many areas in the building were used:

•     Council chambers was the Group Emergency Operations Centre
•     The mayor and chief executive’s offices were used for meetings and briefings
•     Areas for Fire, Police and social services to work from
•     Our call centre dealt with 2209 phone calls, compared with 51 received by Police and 54 by the Fire Service.
•     Offices were used by teams responding to environmental health, roading, utilities and building issues.
•     Computers and printers for distributing documents and communications.

About the civil defence operation during the 2007 Gisborne earthquake see report to Council [PDF, 326 KB] 

8. What are Council's obligations 

The chief executive has a duty of care as an employer to provide a safe working environment for staff and the public and to mitigate and minimise the risk from harm and hazards.

9. Why didn't Council just strengthen the building?

Building a completely new building was lower risk and better value for ratepayers in the medium to long-term.

The results from the RFP process as detailed in the May 2014 report to Council showed that strengthening was cheaper in the short-term and construction would cost between $7.86m and $10.03m as opposed to a new building which would cost $8.47m and $10.23m also see Question 10
refer to council report document 2E

If we chose to strengthen the existing sites we would still have a mix of buildings of varying ages which would cost more to maintain and operate than a new building. Over the life of a 50 year building, the cost to the rate payer would be less.

There's a high risk associated with strengthening. Suppliers who submitted strengthening solutions in the RFP process wanted contingency funds as they didn’t know the extent of work required until they started the project.

During the Expressions of Interest process, July - October 2013, 9 professional groups considered the situation and a majority recommended the buildings were uneconomical to strengthen, refer to document 1Z

10. What were the costs for strengthening each building?

The costs to strengthen so that the building comply with earthquake requirements:

At the Request for Proposal (RFP) stage in January - March 2014, individual building breakdowns were not submitted by suppliers because proposals were sought for the Fitzherbert Street site as a whole.

Suppliers’ proposed strengthening costs were between $7.86m-10.72m refer document 2E

Supplier New Build
4 star equivalent building eco rating
Strengthen
to minimum 67% IL2 and IL4
Rebuild using existing concrete slabs
Chow:Hill $8.47m $7.86m $7.89m
Designgroup Stapleton Elliott $10.23m $9.72m $10.72m
Architects 44 $9.57m $9.75m Unable to be done economically
McCannics $9.5m $10.03m No information provided

11. What other requirements did Council need for the new building besides costs?

•     A modern entrance and customer service area.
•     Operating/administration space for 200 staff plus appropriate staff amenities.
•     Appropriate civic and meeting spaces - council chambers, committee room/function rooms.
•     Inclusion of emergency management as this activity is currently housed in an exterior building.
•     Re-housing staff during any construction.
•     Appropriate car parking.
•     Gardens and landscaping.
•     Appropriate IT facilities.
•     Long-term site scope and broad future plan requirements.
•     “Green” building enhancements over and above current building standards.
•     Design life (whole of life costs are the key consideration with any concept).
•     Building area to IL4 required for civil defence purposes.
•     A modern open plan office environment.
•     Disability access.
•     Evaluation of strengthening the Lawson Field Theatre at the same time.

See RFP document 2A

12 Did Council explore other options?

Yes, Council sought Expressions of Interest during July to October 2013 to investigate site wide solutions and possible options including:

-     Strengthening
-     Demolishing part or all of the buildings to make way for new buildings on the same site
-     Relocating to another purpose-built site
-    Entering into a long-term lease at another location that is fit for purpose.

Refer to document 1Y1

In the RFP Process during January to March 2014 we sought the options of strengthening the buildings and/or reusing the existing concrete slabs. refer document 2A

13. What's planned for the rebuilding project

Council approved a complete rebuild of the 1954, 1980 and 2001 buildings and rebuild on the same site.

The new building is designed by Chow Hill Architects at a cost of $11m to demolish and build, including professional fees.
GHL will pay for the rebuild and will also pay $1.5m to relocate staff and fit-out a temporary office in the city centre until the rebuild is completed in 2017. 

14. What's the value of Council's administrative centre?

Fitzherbert Street administration buildings (1954, 1980, 2011) not including Lawson Field Theatre.

Carrying Value - $435k (as at 30 June 2015)

Council complies with accounting standards set out for Public Benefit Entities (PBE). The carrying value of operational buildings is revalued every 3 years or more frequently when there are indicators that the values may have changed substantially from carrying value. This was the case with the Fitzherbert Street administration building which was impaired by $8.3m in 2014 and $201k in 2015.

Rateable Value - $4.573m (as at 1 July 2014)

Set for the purpose of determining and allocating rates.  It is calculated every 3 years based on the general value of houses/properties in an area and some key statistics.  For specialised buildings such as the Fitzherbert Street administration building a depreciated replacement costs valuation is used.

Insurance Value - $8.835m (as at 1 July 2015)

The value that Council will need to recover from insurance in order to replace the asset if damaged or destroyed as the result of a disaster or some other significant event.

16. Why can't Council stay in the temporary buildings or use other vacant buildings?

Spreading staff across 4 - 5 locations around town is not efficient and is less cost-effective in the long-term.

Paying leases on multiple sites over the long-term will cost more than having staff located in one location at the land we already own at Fitzherbert Street. We’d also still have to do something about the buildings and land at Fitzherbert Street.

We have specific requirements for a building in the event of an emergency such as an earthquake. Many council staff, emergency and social services use council as a headquarters in emergencies and the building needs to be as safe as possible.

None of the temporary buildings meet the earthquake requirement of 67% NBS at IL4 for civil defence facilities in the long term.

We looked at 16 buildings around Gisborne to relocate all staff as a permanent solution. None met our requirements. To purchase or lease and refurbish to our requirements would have cost more than a new building.

Questions about GHL

For questions and answers about GHL 

More information

Read background documents 

Read about the project

Timeline - overview of process, building map [PDF, 2.3 MB]  

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