3 Nov 2019

Parliamentary Service to move staff out of Bowen House

8:39 am on 3 November 2019

The Parliamentary Service is struggling to find out full details of the earthquake vulnerability of a 22-storey Wellington high-rise that is housing many of its staff.

Bowen House in Wellington

Bowen House in Wellington Photo: Google Maps

It is now planning to move staff out of Bowen House on Lambton Quay "in a managed way", so that strengthening work can begin.

However, the service was still trying to establish exactly what information the landlord's engineer Beca, had produced, because it had not seen a New Building Standard (NBS) rating, a spokesperson said.

A NBS rating is integral to most seismic assessments.

"We are continuing to work with the landlord's representatives, [and engineering companies] Beca and Holmes to ensure all requirements are met.

"We have been assured the building is not earthquake prone and have not received any advice that the building should be vacated immediately.

"As we have indicated to staff, we are committed to ensuring their accommodation goes well above the minimum standard and, as such, will be vacating Bowen House in a managed way so that strengthening work can commence."

While Bowen House is not earthquake prone - or under 34 percent NBS - it is under 67 percent, a level at which government departments will not tenant a building, and have been known to vacate, such as the DOC building in Manners St.

"We cannot comment on what government departments may do, and as you'll know PS [Parliamentary Service] is not a government department," the spokesperson said.

"However, we are not satisfied with our people occupying a building that is sub-67 percent... on a permanent basis."

The detailed seismic assessment done by Beca had incorporated the latest knowledge from the engineering "Yellow Book" - new guidelines for assessing common types of concrete floors and how well they are connected to the walls, developed due to the failures discovered after Statistics House failed in the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake.

"Our structural engineers, Holmes Consulting Engineers, are currently reviewing the findings."

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