The owner of the Johnston and Company building on the corner of Taupo Quay and Victoria Ave wants its revamp to demonstrate how Whanganui's older buildings can be rejuvenated.
Auckland based owner Dr Dmytro Dizhur, a structural engineer and consultant, has advised on over a thousand major projects, assessing, restoring and strengthening masonry buildings.
He said he hoped to get the Johnston and Company building looking as close to its original form as possible.
"We're currently changing all the light fittings outside, getting rid of the doors on the side of the building, and the brickwork is getting fully patched up.
"There's also a lot of weatherproofing going on because we don't want any water finding its way inside."
"We're trying to bring it back to the way it was when it was first constructed."
Dizhur said Whanganui was fast becoming his "second home", and a lot of his previous heritage building research took place in the city.
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"2012 was the first year I did something relatively significant here.
"When I was a construction researcher for the Auckland University I was given a building on Drews Avenue that was up for demolition, for me to use for extensive strength and conditioning testing.
"Thanks to that I was able to generate a huge amount of data and conduct a lot of world-first experiments."
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After Dizhur completed his PhD in Masonry, he was called upon to inspect all 650 brick buildings in Christchurch after the city was devastated by an earthquake in 2011.
His engineering consultation firm also undertook projects in Italy and Mexico City, to help building owners strengthen their properties in the event of earthquakes.
"We had essentially forgotten how a lot of these older buildings work," Dizhur said.
"People tend to be incredibly conservative when faced with something unknown, but thanks to all the research I've done I've found that many vintage buildings can be saved in a cost-effective way.
"Now I can say exactly how strong a mortar joint is or, how strong a brick is."
Dizhur said around one million cars drove past the Johnston and Company building each year.
"I'm really keen to use this building as a demonstration of how an older building can be rejuvenated."
"I've always had a love of heritage buildings, and the extensive research I've done in the field has enabled me to use the minimum of new elements to strengthen older elements in buildings."
Embedding carbon fibre strips into brickwork is one of many techniques Dizhur has developed to strengthen vintage buildings across the country.
The Westmere Church in Whanganui is a local landmark that has been upgraded using this technique, and Dizhur said the Johnston and Company building would also receive the same upgrade later in the year.
Nine local workers have been employed to help with the current developments, all of whom Dizhur has "trained up" to tackle the project.
"They've been really fantastic out there on the scaffolding," Dizhur said.
Dizhur said the Whanganui District Council had contributed significantly towards the current project.
"The Council Facade fund has been incredible in helping with this project.
This building can be a prime example of just what can be done with the right expertise and experience."