Museum rebuild ‘complex’

Rotorua Museum is currently closed.

Multiple types of building elements are adding to the complexities of the restoration of the Rotorua Museum and Bath House.

Keegan Williams, lead engineer of Hamilton-based GDC Consultants, says extensive research is needed for the $25 million project.

He also explains why a start to the building had been protracted.

The nationally recognised tourism attraction was closed two years ago as it was ruled an earthquake risk.

Since then, the Rotorua Lakes Council ($10m) and the Rotorua Energy Charitable Trust ($15m) have stumped up the capital needed to restore the building.

In a video interview, Keegan Williams pointed to the historic nature of the building.

“There’ve been numerous alterations and additions over the past 100 years which has created quite a complex-type building,” he says.

“Also, the building’s made out of multiple different types of elements which add further to the complexity – timber, unreinforced concrete, steel and masonry throughout the building.

“Because of this, we’ve had to undergo extensive investigation works to understand how the building’s working – that’s what’s taking the time.

“The next step from that – three stages – the retro-fit design, the concept design and development design. At each of those stages we need to liaise and consult with all the parties involved with the project.”

Multiple parties – Heritage NZ, conservation architects, services engineers, architects, fire engineers, obviously structural engineers, technical engineers, council, iwi- are involved, with the need to consult.

“There’re a lot of affected parties to consult at each stage. It all adds up in the timeline.

“The museum is a very special building not only to Rotorua but also to New Zealand so we need to take care at this planning stage to make sure we do the job properly and the project is a success at the end of the day.”

In December last year, the Rotorua trust committed its $15m towards the rebuild.

“The Museum/Bath House is seen as a symbol of our community and it is imperative that the facility be open again as soon as possible,” trust chairman Stewart Edward says.

In June, the council’s long-term plan signed off the $15m following community consultation.

The council approved $15 million towards strengthening the building with the balance required to be sourced externally.

In November, Opus were appointed as project managers.

Next steps include:

■ Now: Developed design phase underway.

■ Jan – July 2019: Detailed design phase.

■ July 2019: Contractor procurement and construction commencement.

■ July 2019 – 2020: Construction.

■ 2020 – 2021: Exhibition development and installation prior to Museum reopening.

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