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Old Boy at helm of school revamp

Old Boy at helm of school revamp
A digital representation of the new two storey brick and glass administration block at Wanganui Collegiate, scheduled for completion in July.

It’s one thing to be responsible for project managing two substantial property developments but when you are an old-boy of the school, it adds a further dimension to the job.

Such is the case for Chris Fallows, who is overseeing major site improvements on the campus of Wanganui Collegiate School, a recently stateintegrated Anglican day and boarding school for students Year 9 to 13.

The school itself goes back to 1854 when the then NZ Governor Sir George Grey gifted land for the purposes of building a school for the “education of children of all races and of all other poor and destitute persons being inhabitants on islands in the Pacific Ocean”.

These days, students still attend Wanganui Collegiate School from all over the world as well as from throughout New Zealand.

“It is special to be working on these projects because I am very familiar with the campus and the many beautiful buildings that have stood the test of time” Chris says. The two projects are very different in nature, however.

One is a brand-new technologically savvy administration block, designed by Rich Naish from Auckland’s RTA Studio Architects while the other project is a complete refurbishment and seismic upgrading to Wanganui Collegiate School’s historic H G Carver Memorial Library.

The seismic design and structural engineering was completed by BPL Ltd and W & W Construction is the main contractor.

Both are local Whanganui companies. The library, built in 1911 was originally home to the school’s dining hall and required substantial seismic upgrading and strengthening to meet current codes.

Carrying a NZ Heritage Category 1 rating added further challenges to ensure the exterior and exterior refurbishment remained in sympathy with the original brick building.

“We are very big on history and this project has been very engaging given the significance of this building to the life of the school. The library inside will be transformed, with a sleek and sophisticated ‘modern library’ feel, including a glass-framed mezzanine floor,” Chris explains.

The strengthening work is being done in a very clever, non-obtrusive manner, Chris says.

For example, new high strength concrete columns are being embedded into the existing structures to reduce any visual impact.

Also, the building will be levelled using computer controlled hydraulic rams. Once work is completed in May 2018 the library will become a learning hub for students to enjoy.

The other project, building a two-storey brick and glass administration block began in September this year and is due to open in July 2018.

The original administration block was demolished three years ago with two other old buildings removed and since then the administration services at the school have been scattered in various buildings.

DML Construction of Whanganui has won the contract for this build. Chris says that planning for the 570m2 block involved a lot of consultation.

“What we discovered was wanted was a design that was both modern and fitted in with the existing traditional buildings. It also needs to stand apart and I think that the architects have done a great job in achieving that balance.”

When completed the administration block, which boasts substantial drops of darkened glass, will stand next to a new grassed quad area where students can gather.

The building will house latest heating and ventilation technologies and will feature a distinctive visitor and parent entrance along with a separate, more private entrance for students to access services inside, along with a wonderful staffroom that overlooks the main field.

It was a condition of integration in 2012 that the school would have to strengthen and refurbish the library and rebuild the Administration building.

Running in parallel with the library and administration block projects is the refurbishment of the Boys’ Boarding Houses.

“We are blessed to have such a beautiful site at Wanganui Collegiate School. These projects will only add to the special quality and character of the campus.”

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