Rotorua Lakes Council has appointed two project managers to oversee the seismic strengthening and redevelopment of the Rotorua Museum and the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre.

Following a tender process, Rotorua Lakes Council has appointed WSP Opus to manage the Rotorua Museum project and AECOM to manage the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre project.

The construction phase is due to get under way next year for both Rotorua Museum and the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre.

"These projects are both quite complex," said Stewart Brown, Rotorua Lakes Council's Manager Arts & Culture. "They both involve seismic strengthening, they are both Category 1 heritage buildings and they are both situated in a geothermal area with the added challenges that brings," he said.

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For that reason, the projects need dedicated, experienced project managers to ensure the quality, timeframes and budgets are actively overseen every step of the way. To avoid conflicting time pressures, the team decided it was important to have separate project managers for these two major developments.

Brown said the project team was impressed with WSP Opus's local team, and the wealth of additional expertise from around New Zealand and internationally, that could be drawn on if required. WSP Opus have had an office in Rotorua for about 70 years and their extensive history working with the council, and long and trusted relationships with local contractors, will ensure seamless integration into the project. They also know the challenges of working in Rotorua's geothermal landscape.

"It means they will be right here - in the project and on site. With such a complex development quick responses will be a really important factor to keep the project on track," said Brown.

Rotorua Museum. Photo / Fullframe Photography
Rotorua Museum. Photo / Fullframe Photography

"As a local team, we have skin in the game," said project director Fred Shilton. "We are local ratepayers who love the museum and want to ensure that future generations are able to enjoy and love it too. This is a special project and it is a privilege for us to be involved. We will be bringing wide-ranging expertise, with our extensive and agile resource pool, to ensure that this project is effectively and efficiently managed right through to its' conclusion," he said.

For the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre, Auckland-based AECOM have been providing interim project management services for the last few months. Based on their excellent performance to date, and the wealth of experience they bring to the project, they were the obvious choice to project manage the seismic strengthening and redevelopment of this significant community venue.

"AECOM have already established some excellent systems and processes for managing the Sir Howard Morrison Centre project," said Brown. "The depth of their team, experience working with Councils, combined project management experience and already established relationships will ensure the project continues to progress efficiently."

Artist's impression of the redeveloped Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre. Image / Shand Shelton Architects
Artist's impression of the redeveloped Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre. Image / Shand Shelton Architects

"We have been supporting council during the set-up phase of this iconic project and are thrilled to be continuing with this strong partnership," said AECOM Technical Director, Kerry Newell.

"Our team will provide the required leadership and skills to navigate this complex project to a successful completion. We recognise how important the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre is for Rotorua. It will be an important focal point for the community, providing work opportunities and valuable facilities. We have a long track record of supporting the development of similar recreational community projects," he said.

With the design phase well under way for both projects, one of the first key tasks of the project managers will be the procurement of contractors in preparation for construction to start in 2019.

During the recent long term planning round, Rotorua Lakes Council agreed to commit $15 million towards the seismic strengthening of Rotorua Museum and $4.5million towards the seismic strengthening of the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre. The balance of funds for both projects is to be sourced externally.

Structural strengthening design for Rotorua Museum foyer. Image / GDC
Structural strengthening design for Rotorua Museum foyer. Image / GDC

What has happened since the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre closed

• 3 November 2017: The Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre closed for earthquake strengthening

• November 2017: Business plan completed outlining options for redeveloping the centre

• January – July 2018: Architectural design competition resulted in Shand Shelton being appointed to lead the redesign of the building for performing arts

• April 2018: Detailed seismic assessment rated the building at 25% of new building standard. Buildings below 34% are considered earthquake prone, while those under 67% are considered earthquake risk

• August 2018: Resource consent approved based on concept designs

• August – October 2018: Preliminary designs completed

Next steps for the Sir Howard Morrison Performing Arts Centre project
• Now to April 2019: Complete design phase and continue to source external funding
• April 2019: Contractor procurement and commencement of construction phase
• April 2019 – April 2020: Construction
• April – June 2020: Fit out prior to reopening

What has happened since Rotorua Museum closed
• 18 November 2016: Rotorua Museum closed following a rapid seismic risk assessment which determined the building was earthquake prone
• December 2016 – August 2017: Research, destructive testing and analysis to determine in detail the condition of the building and the ground on which it sits
• August 2017 – December 2017: Four structural strengthening options were evaluated, and the preferred option selected
• December 2017: Detailed seismic assessment was completed which rated the building at 19% of new building standard. Buildings below 34% are considered earthquake prone, while those under 67% are considered earthquake risk
• December 2017 – February 2018: Engineers GDC developed the structural concept design for strengthening the building, for review by Rotorua Lakes Council and Heritage New Zealand
• February 2018 – December 2018: Structural design developed into detailed drawings and specifications with estimated costs
• May 2018: Rotorua Lakes Council long term plan signed off following community consultation. Council approved $15 million towards strengthening the Rotorua Museum building with the balance required to be sourced externally

Next steps for the Rotorua Museum project
• Now to December 2018: Developed design phase
• December 2018 – July 2019: Detailed design phase
• July 2019: Contractor procurement and construction commencement
• July 2019 – 2020: Construction
• 2021: Exhibition installation prior to Museum reopening