Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Why the Aurora came down: Auckland Council report issued

Photo taken 20 November 2010 from Victoria Street West.

Further to the earlier post, Aurora's End. A report now out, commissioned by Auckland Council, seems to have summed up the story behind the demolition of the Aurora Hotel last November. From the NZ Herald today:

Auckland Council's Building Control Manager Ian McCormick said the building had rotated and was constantly moving by up to 5 millimetres an hour towards the street before the demolition order was made. Large cracks had appeared in the building fa├žade and windows were spontaneously breaking. He said an investigation by the council and three independent engineering consultancies, found that the collapse of the Palace Hotel was caused by its basement walls not being adequately supported during its renovation by the Chow Group. McCormick said the investigation showed that the building owners failed to do all that was necessary to ensure the building was being safely renovated, and that the owners' site engineers and architects should have recognised the building was being placed at risk. "The investigation shows the movement of the basement walls was due to a loss of lateral support caused by the removal of the timber floor, an over-excavation of the foundations and the removal of concrete basement floor designated to be retained in the approved plans. "It was this combination of factors that caused the building to collapse."
There's a link to the report here.


  1. Feel sorry for the building's owners. All they are left with is a vacant lot of prime real estate. Aside from the sarcasm, what is wrong with engineers that they can't get the safe renovations of a three storey building right?

  2. Looking at the photos and diagrams in the report, the answer may be -- a lot.

  3. Interesting report. By the looks of things the process entered into was remarkably well organised given the problem, the time of day, the number of stakeholders, the fluid situation and the risks. And then the Chow brothers threw their toys (and the possibility of stabilising/retaining something of the building) when their ability to sell booze and sex on the site couldnt be guaranteed. The report certainly puts paid to the Chow's claims they werent consulted.

    Fascinating stuff.

  4. I agree, Jono. This is a very good report, providing in some detail exactly what happened that day -- and Council staff should receive credit for their actions during the process. If we had to lose a heritage building (sad that it had to happen) -- at least it happened with safe and responsible measures.