The Eye of the Fish

Maximus
July 26, 2013

Liftshaft

Looks like Luke’s Lane Liftshaft is likely to lay down after a long period of lonesome inactivity. Apparently it is leaning in an alarming manner – anything off vertical rings alarm bells in our vertically oriented city – and this last remnant of the 80s is due to be axed.

Probably not before time too, but I’ve always liked the look of the errant Liftshaft, with it’s secret rooftop position, and thought how it would be a perfect place for a weekend bach, or a secret writers getaway. A bloggers hideout perhaps? Probably not the venue for a lovers retreat however, as it was a little too exposed. Half the city can see the top of the liftshaft, and it has been covered in graffiti for years, so someone must be able to get up there, with it’s vantage point over the city, out to sea.

However, I have no idea what it was built for. Presumably, as it’s location next to the James Smith car park shows, it may have been intended as part of that project, but it seems more likely that it was part of an unfinished second stage, an unconstructed addition. Can anyone recall what it was? What it was for? I imagine that a number of large Chase Corp or other nefarious developers that went tits up in the 1980s could have been responsible – but who was responsible for this? Anyone know?

Update: Photos included from Google as per suggestion, and from today, with the Press Conference and Neil Brown snapped by a friendly passer-by.

greenwelly
26 - 07 - 13

Looking at Council maps, it seems that the site of the liftshaft is legally part of the same title as the Car parking building,

The two story concrete pillars at the bottom of the site are a really small footprint, so I am guessing it was built on the hope of being able to stick a couple of extra floors of office space on the roof of the car park, ( I cannot see it being a viable building just on the extra small floors)

As an aside there are good streetview images of the structure on Google maps
http://goo.gl/maps/seIFr

John H
26 - 07 - 13

The story I had been told (c.1998) by an engineer was that the building was under construction in 1987 and following the Black Tuesday share market crash, the construction company, builders and subbies walked off the job and abandoned the site. However a look at various volumes of City Scope tells a different story. It first appears in the Feb 1989 issue under the 148 – 176 Wakefield Street address which also includes the James Smith’s Carpark and the (then) Plaza International Hotel.

It states “…An office tower (glass curtain walls, with fairface concrete columns, fabric roof, carpeted floors of 125m, suspended ceilings, recessed lighting, security, parking) whose lifts will also serve the upper floors of the carparking building, is being built on the Lukes Lane frontage”.

Similar wording appears in subsequent issues (with an added “is nearing completion”) until 1992 when it drops out of City Scope and no further mention is made of it.

The site (hotel and carpark) were built by Forum Construction which was a business interest of Ron Evans who also owned the hotel under the name Forum Corporation, so it seems likely they were also involved in the Luke Lane building.

http://opencorporates.com/officers/29618025

Maximus
26 - 07 - 13

Thank you Green Welly and John H – I love this helpful architectural / urban community. Excellent sleuthing – and John H, thank you for the mention of City Scope – it has me intrigued – a magazine or newsletter perhaps? Can you tell me where you find it? National Library I presume, but i’ve clearly never heard of it before (shame on me)…

An office tower of 125m would have been a big thing, clearly much bigger than this piddly lift could service. Forum were, as far as I can recall, one of the big companies – next in line to Chase perhaps? No better, but nowhere near as notorious…?

Maximus
26 - 07 - 13

So while the Dom Post is sensationalisticly reporting that the ownership of the Lift Shaft is unknown:
http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/8966034/Who-owns-the-shaky-quakey-shaft
Greenwelly has identified that it quite probably is the Council who owns it anyway. Expect red-faces to announce a retraction soonish?

greenwelly
26 - 07 - 13

@Maximus, from memory the council flogged the Car park building in about 2005, it was then syndicated and sold on in a pile of smaller parcels.

John H
26 - 07 - 13

Oh…sorry 125m squared (floor area per floor), not 125m high (couldn’t insert a “power of two” symbol thingy).

The Wellington edition of City Scope started in the 1980s and was updated once or twice a year. It gave quite detailed information about all buildings in the CBD. I think production of it ceased c.2000 for a while because too many people photocopied what they needed from their mate’s copies or from the library rather than purchasing one (they cost hundreds of dollars each due to the huge amount of work needed to keep them up to date and it was then largely a one-man operation). As far as Wellington goes though, they are back up and running again.

http://www.cityscope.co.nz

Inner City Suburbanite
27 - 07 - 13

“The council says 611 buildings have been yellow-stickered as a result of Sunday’s quake and would need to be demolished or brought up to the minimum quake standard by 2027.”
http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/regional/215406/work-begins-to-secure-lift-shaft

Really!? That’s gotta be a mistake.

Maximus
27 - 07 - 13

Certainly sounds like a mistake.

I’m pretty sure that they must have mashed up two stories and presented them as one. The WCC haven’t been yellow snickering anything since Sunday, as far as they have told the media / the people / the world, and are unlikely to have done that to 611 buildings. But they could quite possibly have a separate file of buildings that require strengthening anyway. Apart from the naughty Liftshaft, I am not aware of any other buildings that have been ordered to come down since Sunday.

60 MPa
28 - 07 - 13

St Marys is closing for EQ strengthening, it won’t be the last in a wave of do up or demo cases

basil
29 - 07 - 13

Spot the excellent typo – “yellow snickering” – sounds like something you’d do if you were a building officer who wanted revenge!

Maximus
29 - 07 - 13

damn that autocorrect ! You can always tell my posts from my iPad – it’s always correcting my spelling. For instance, it now firmly believes that liftshaft is always spelt Liftshaft. Very odd though, that it sees snickering as a word, when it does not recognise stickering…

andy foster
29 - 07 - 13

Hi Maximus – that 611 sounds like the number of buildings that have been assessed as EQP over the last few years as Council has been working through the list of potentially EQP buildings. I’ll check the lists but that sounds about right. (that’s out of about 4500 buildings that have been assessed to date)

Regards

Andy Foster
Councillor

Ghost walks (2) Te Aro | Rising to gale
5 - 08 - 13

[…] lean after the quake on 20 July. There’s an interesting discussion about its origins on the Eye of the Fish blog. Lukes Lane […]

Maximus
17 - 08 - 13

Just as a footnote to this post: a few weeks later, on the 16th August, another quake of similar magnitude happened, with similar results. The 6.5 quake struck at 2.15pm on the Friday afternoon, and was widely felt, and effectively the city stopped for a bit of a checkup. It seems that the Luke’s Lane lonely Liftshaft has had its chips – despite the emergency work last time, it proved too unstable, and is now to be demolished pronto. Adieu, my crappy little sliver of history…