“Unacceptable” design flaw in Statistics House – In the News

Design standards and building laws will be reviewed following an investigation into structural damage to Statistics House in November’s Kaikōura earthquake.

Damage in Statistics House/MBIE.

The Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment’s investigation into the building’s damage in the magnitude 7.8 earthquake was released on Friday.

Building and Construction Minister Dr Nick Smith called the building’s performance “unacceptable” and that the damage could have caused fatalities.

“This quake was large and unusually long but a modern building like Statistics House should not have had life-threatening structural damage.”

Some lower floors in the building, which was built in 2005, partially collapsed. The report found that significant shaking for up to 120 seconds, combined with the building’s flexible frame and the style of floor construction contributed to compromise the support of the lower pre-cast concrete floors.

Dr Smith said there would need to be follow-up on similarly-designed buildings so that where it is a problem it can be rectified. “This has already been done in respect of Wellington as a consequence of the preliminary findings in Statistics House but now needs to be followed up elsewhere.”

There would also be an amendment to the Concrete Structures Standard to ensure newly-designed buildings are adequately designed to cope with beam elongation during long-duration earthquakes.

The report is available on MBIE’s website.

The report’s release was covered by local media:

Stuff.co.nz: Building standards to be reviewed in wake of ‘unacceptable’ performance Statistics House
Radio NZ: Statistics House quake damage inquiry findings released
Newshub: Statistics House building ‘could have caused fatalities’ in Kaikoura earthquake
NZ Herald: Statistics House collapse in Kaikoura Earthquake ‘could have caused fatalities’
TVNZ: Statistics House could have caused deaths in Kaikoura earthquake – MBIE