The Eye of the Fish

February 26, 2013

Demolition not the Answer

So: the results are out from the Commissioners: Mark Dunajtschik may not demolish the “Harcourts” building. That’s an interesting result – and opposite to that recommended by the Council’s own planning officers – and Mr Dunajtschik is furious.

We wrote about it here, and also here, and this decision sets out quite clearly that demolition is not going to be granted wholesale for the heritage buildings of Wellington. That’s partly because an original seismic assessment rated the building as having an equivalent of only about 18% of the New Building Standard – and now a new assessment puts it at about 42% of the code – which not only means that a demolition order can be removed, but also that it is not technically a “Earthquake Prone Building” any more. Interesting… That’s quite a difference! Does that mean that someone in evaluation A did not do their job very well? Or does it mean that the science behind the engineering is really that vague? Or does it even mean that if you shop around, you can get the engineering report to say what you want? How dodgy is that?

No comments here so far today, but over on the Stuff website, there has been a fair bit of dialogue from the usual inane commenters. Key amongst them someone called:

Jerry : “Therein lies the very reason Wellington City shall remain looking like a delapidated, run down old town. Harcourts Building a “heritage building’. Yeah, give me a break. And Chicago Style my foot. What an insult to the city of Chicago. Have these councillors ever travelled to the city. The Harcourts Building is nothing but a bloody eyesore of a structure. What sandle wearing group of fossils managed to convince our wayward council it was worthy of keeping. My recommendations to Mr Dunajtschik, abandon this sad city and put your sought after efforts into a city like Auckland. Its go-ahead, growing in population, offering better returns for the massive investment involved and at least has a council with a degree offore-sight. It never ceases to amaze me, that we have someone like Mr Dunajtschik who is prepared to fund construction of buildings of a very high standard, and in demand and gets knocked back, and yet after years and years of ratepayer funded consultation our council go ahead and put up structures such as the like of the Queens Wharf Events Centre! Go figure.”

and here again is Jerry: “Some people really just dont get it. What difference does it make how many other buildings an individual owns or what their financial status is. The point is, this council are deadwood, they have too much influence in what people can and cannot do, especially when they have made so many bad decisions for this city. If there is one thing this city needs, is more people with a vision and who are truly prepared to stump up with the capital to invest in growth for the betterment of everyone. Maybe you would consider contributing some of your personal wealth (whatever it may be) to the strenghtening of such old dungers. Yeah, I think not. And you can bet your boots, the council wont want to kick in anything either.
Chances are, the next big quake in the city will fix the problem. With all these old dungers falling and facades turned to dust, the problem will be solved. Its just a pity that many lives will probably be lost in the process. Thank you WCC.”

He seems to have a real anger management issue…

Kent Duston
26 - 02 - 13

Anger management issue? Jerry’s got a basic literacy issue. It would be nice if the mouth-breathing troglodytes who infest Stuff’s comments section could spell the big words … like “delapidated” or “offore-sight” or even learn where the apostrophe goes in “dont”. Still, at least he seems to understand the benefits of copy-and-paste, otherwise who knows what damage he would have done to “Dunajtschik”.

26 - 02 - 13

Yes, I used to comment at times on the Stuff website, but since you now have to join up to become part of “Stuff Nation” then I just can’t be arsed. Is that meant to be a quality control measure? If so, it is not working.

Feel like pointing out the bleeding obvious to : nzjt
“maybe you right (hope we never get to find out) but I was under the impression that the falling safety glass of the the more modern structures will do a lot les damage than a falling brick wall. can you point me to any proof that modern buildings are just as deadly?”

Sad that these tiny minds have forgotten the CTV building so quickly. 100 foreign language students killed in seconds, on just one floor of that “new” shocker.

26 - 02 - 13

Good call from the Council, standing up for the city. There are some lines you don’t cross, and hopefully we see more of these decisions in the future when owners want to demolish their dodgy old historic buildings. Because we have a bit more time to pause and think than Christchurch has had, I hope we won’t regret what we put the wrecking ball through (or what do they call it now, in PC terms – the nibbler).

26 - 02 - 13

I’ve found that whenever I want to loose all faith in society, reading the comments sections on any online newspaper is the first step. I would have to say the dominion post/stuff section is better than the christchurch press/stuff, which is vile and ignorant.

I have to say I’m quite torn by this decision. I’m happy the council ruled the way it did, but not because I like the building or see it having strong architectural heritage merit, but more that the only resolution to upgrading buildings is to bulldoze and start a new. I despise the attitude exhibited by the likes of Gerry Brownlee and the rest of the arm chair structural engineers, who think because they’ve read an article on stuff that they know a think about the tradeoffs of seismic upgrade and heritage.

I find living in ChCH can be quite challenging at the moment. The dominant comments in the press celebrated bulldozing all heritage. Now that the new buildings are being designed and underway the prevailing comments are about the terrible design and boring nature of them. For some reason we’re supposed to give a shit about what an uneducated and fickle public things about buildings? quite frankly – fuck them.

60 MPa
27 - 02 - 13

Minimus is correct, the comments are flat out depressing knowing that these people have a vote.The Richard Prossers of this world.

“Jerry” is right about one thing though, the Queens Wharf Events Centre is rather ugly and not good for live music. Wgtn needs a decent medium sized music venue – I’m seeing a gig at the stadium next month and regularly see bands at Bodega and SFBH but there’s not much in between sizewise so Auckland gets a large share of my music budget as many midsize bands don’t make it here.

Threadjack aside, 18% to 42% is the sort of jump that, if it happened to my drink, I’d suspect a Mickey Finn. The Council armed with Rohypnol? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

27 - 02 - 13

Minimus – yup, that’s why I don’t really know if I could live in Christchurch. My logical part of my brain tells me that if I want to get anything built in the next ten years, going to Christchurch is an entirely logical thing to do – but the another part of me just inwardly weeps at the destruction and at the crassness and shallowness of the prime species of bogans who live down there. I used to think that Cantabrians were all erudite thinkers and doers like Miles Warren and Peter Beavan, but now I realize how special they are.

The comments on the Press website are mind-bogglingly crass, uneducated, redneck, savagely inaccurate and wholesale stupid, for the most part. Gives me the impression of vast acres of white supremacists with baseball hats on backwards, driving fast in souped up 1990 Nissan Skylines, circling the dying centre of Christchurch, and cursing that they had to endure high school for a whole two years before they left to get a job as a garbage collector. Something along those lines anyway. I really had no idea that some people could be so dumb, so ignorant, and so averse to thinking.

Sigh. They’re up here too.

27 - 02 - 13

60 – you’re right about the Music venue. I haven’t been inside the Vector Arena, but that is the size that we really need to pull the big acts. TSB Events centre is great as a place for basketball, or for the book fair, but sucks for music. It’s amazing how good the Town Hall is for music – Wellington sure got their money’s worth out of Joshua Charlesworth – but it is too small most of the time, and we could do with something bigger.

Of course, if the ASB Sports centre had been built centrally, then we could have used that… but let’s not revisit that argument. Trouble with the TSB is that you can’t fit anything bigger on the site. We did a post a while back about where some bigger sites would work. I think my favorite was in Newtown, at the old Showgrounds.

27 - 02 - 13

Pretty shameful that Wellington can’t get its act together and build a venue suitable for mid-sized international acts. It certainly makes the city’s claim to be NZ’s “cultural capital” ring pretty hollow. Most popular bands tour all the Australian capitals (yes, even Perth and Adelaide) and then tack a single NZ show in Auckland on the end. These shows are then advertised on billboards and posters around Wellington! It’s a completely ridiculous situation.

1 - 03 - 13

Maximus – While I don’t agree that the character type you describe would bother posting a comment on a news website I have just viewed the results of the Design competion ‘Breathe urban village’ and the comments section is already filling up with bile.

2 - 03 - 13

Thanks Ch – I’ll review that when i have a chance – but you’re probably right about the bogans. I’m sure they are there, but they probably don’t write much.

14 - 03 - 13

And, predictably, Mr Dunajtschik has appealed against the decision. As he said he probably would, just to keep his options open. I’m not sure who the appeal goes to – not to a court – does the Council have to appoint more commissioners to review the other commissioners?