A healthy approach - Don Lyon

By Gabriel James

Budgets are tight, but there are good opportunities for asset optimisation, says Beca managing director Don Lyon

Investment is going into infrastructure to optimise assets.
Investment is going into infrastructure to optimise assets.

Beca managing director Don Lyon expects that as the capital spend comes off major projects in New Zealand there will be a lot more focus on getting the best out of those assets.

Lyon says Beca is frequently recognised for its involvement in large capital projects, but behind scenes there is a lot of asset support and small-to-medium sized refurbishment work. "I don't think the public appreciates how much investment is going into infrastructure generally to optimise assets," he says. "More than 50 per cent of our work is in asset optimisation projects."

He says New Zealand does not have a great track record in this area. But with budgets tight - particularly at public sector level - there are some real opportunities for asset optimisation including within the country's health and education sectors.

Stuart Smith, Beca's technical director (building services), has worked exclusively in the health sector since 1999 including on major development projects at Auckland, Wellington, Waikato and Middlemore hospitals as well as a raft of refurbishment projects.

Smith says the new Christchurch Hospital - one of the signature projects for the rebuild of the quakes-stricken city - is the next big health project. Health Minister Tony Ryall announced in March that Cabinet had confirmed a $500 million spend on the Christchurch and Burwood hospitals' redevelopment. The Canterbury District Health Board will inject $100 million from reserves to take total new investment to $600 million.

Ryall said it was the largest, most complex building project in the history of our public health service. The hospitals will together have 938 beds, an increase of 159; and eight extra operating theatres giving a total of 24.

Construction at Burwood hospital is expected to be completed in 2015; Christchurch hospital will be finished in 2018.

But there is some uncertainty over what else may be in the pipeline. The Beca duo point to the pressures caused by an ageing population ("within a couple of years of construction there is always more pressure on bed numbers"). Increasing capacity where some projects face space constraints can be a challenge.

At Starship Children's Health Hospital, Beca has been involved in a project to add an additional operating theatre, increasing capacity from five to six theatres within the existing footprint ("good bang for the buck").

Lyon notes old style hospitals tended to be divided into many rooms within an inflexible structure. But there is now a move towards more flexible layout to enable changing technology and treatment trends.

Smith says the new designs have optimised grid patterns of structural columns with lifts and service access towards the perimeter so the floor plan can be cleaned out in the future.

Other interesting projects including optimising laboratory facilities, which Lyon says, are expensive. "Research facilities with the University of Auckland PC3 facility, where they work on tuberculosis, is an area in which we are specialising" he says.

Beca won an ACENZ Gold Award for this.

In Christchurch, the vision is to have training, teaching, research and clinical activities in the same space. Though the existing city hospital was not destroyed in the February 2011 earthquake, it is built with a narrow footprint that does not suit modern healthcare and is quite inefficient, one of the reasons, with cost of strengthening, for the new build. The city hospital will be one of the key pieces of infrastructure in Christchurch with good design elements and a substantial 50,000m2 footprint.

The Beca executives say alliances are not being used for the Christchurch public hospitals. The Min-istry of Health has appointed the Hos-pital Redevelopment Partnership Group to manage the process. The Ministry has approached Beca to work on the redevelopment, whereas, in the past, this has fallen to district health boards.

Good progress

Lyon believes New Zealand has made good progress addressing the backlog of infrastructure underspend. The projects coming to fruition will address some of that backlog but there is still quite a long way to go in some sectors to have first class infrastructure.

He says the Auckland electrification is progressing and the hearings on the City Rail Link are under way to secure the designation. "Generally, in most infrastructure sectors - transport, transmission and health - there is good planning for what is needed for the next 25 years, and having a staged investment programme for it."

Smith is responsible for delivering large health projects on behalf of Beca. He has an extensive CV in healthcare infrastructure, working for most of the major health authorities in NZ, as well as undertaking studies of various Australian hospitals and laboratories in recent years.

His current priorities include assisting the Ministry of Health and Canterbury District Health Board with concept designs for the redevelopment of Burwood and Christchurch hospitals.

Beca has a wide footprint in the New Zealand infrastructure space. Among recent projects are:

• The Christchurch transitional "cardboard"cathedral, which was completed this month (see picture);

• High-rise buildings in Jakarta, including Signature Tower Jakarta (which is double the height of Auckland's Sky Tower).

• Other high-profile projects include Beca's work for Watercare Auckland, the Waterview Project in Auckland, Christchurch's Wynyard Quarter Redevelopment, Auckland Airport's Stand 10 and many offshore mandates.

- NZ Herald

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