Kurt Bayer

Kurt Bayer is an APNZ reporter based in Christchurch.

Architect of CTV building gives evidence

The collapsed CTV building. Photo / Geoff Sloan.
The collapsed CTV building. Photo / Geoff Sloan.

The CTV building, which collapsed in the February 22, 2011 earthquake, killing 115 people, was a typical office block popular in the 1980s' Christchurch construction boom, a hearing was told today.

The architect who designed the ill-fated six-storey Christchurch office block told the royal commission hearing looking into its disastrous collapse that it was a "standard developer's office building" that was "very much in the mould of what developers constructed in that period''.

Alun Wilkie, whose firm Alun Wilkie Associates Limited was contracted for the CTV building, said there was nothing special or different about it, and his company had built several others in Christchurch like it.

The experienced architect was giving evidence to the royal commission hearing which entered into its sixth week today.

The 1980s saw a boom in the building office blocks, after a move away from owner/occupier offices, to leased office space.

He said the rectangular design, where each floor was the same, an external stairwell, standard suspended grid ceilings, and with no ventilation or air conditioning, it was normal for the city at that time.

In a statement read out to the Canterbury Earthquakes Royal Commission hearing by counsel assisting Stephen Mills QC, Mr Wilkie said he never visited the construction site while it was being built.

"At no stage in my career, have I supervised a project," he said.

He added that he had no discussions over its seismic performance or design, saying that was left up to structural engineers as that was their specific field of expertise.

"At no stage did I have any concerns about any aspect of the structural design. It was simply not an area that I was engaged with," he said.

Mr Mills said the royal commission "reserves the possibility" to call Mr Wilkie in for cross-examination, depending on how his evidence is received.

The commission is trying to establish why the concrete office block, designed by city firm Alan Reay Consultants, failed so catastrophically in the killer magnitude-6.3 quake. It is looking at the permit process, design and construction phases, a close examination of the code compliance, remedial measures carried out after faults were found in 1990, and the assessment process which started on the building after the magnitude-7.1 September 4, 2010 quake.

It has until November 12 to deliver its final report.

Also giving evidence this week, are structural engineers and draughtsmen employed by Alan Reay, including David Harding, who was employed as a structural engineer by Reay between 1984 and 1985, and prepared the detailed design of the CTV building.

His evidence will be much-anticipated, with his lawyer Michael Kirkland this morning saying it would likely be disputed by Harding's boss, Mr Reay.

Mr Kirkland feared much of the evidence would likely come down to a "credibility" issue for the royal commission to consider.

Patricia Tapper, widow of Graeme Tapper, who was involved in checking and issuing a building permit for the CTV building in 1986 will also give evidence later in the week.

- APNZ

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