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Art Gallery a testament to rebuild

Liki Udam Aug 8
Art Gallery a testament to rebuild
The Christchurch Art Gallery, which reopened in December 2015, is now one of the safest and most earthquake resistant galleries in the world.

Having undergone a $59.2 million repair programme since closing due to earthquake damage in 2011, Christchurch Art Gallery reopened in December 2015 as one of the safest and most earthquake resistant galleries in the world.

Greenstone Group project managed the re-levelling, base isolation, and earthquake repairs required to reinstate the Art Gallery to its August 2010 condition, and improve its seismic resilience.

Greenstone Group’s first impressions on arriving on site were of sadness.

To see a building of such public significance standing empty, with the art contained and stacked in one room, brought home the massive impact the earthquakes had on the community as a whole.

The large empty building reflected the city centre as a whole.

It was empty, and needed to be brought back to life. Greenstone Group managed this process.

The Art Gallery, built in 2003, suffered damage from the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes, areas of ground beneath the building liquefied, and resettled unevenly, requiring a significant programme of repairs.

Phase one of the repair programme was to relevel the structure.

Art Gallery a testament to rebuild

The final stage of the programme included repairs to essential services, the interior, and the gallery’s iconic glass facade.


Piles were formed under the foundations and filled using highly technical jet grouting technology to slowly raise the building up.

The result of this is the gallery returning to its pre-earthquake condition, reducing stresses in the structure caused by differential settlement, and re-levelling the building.

Base isolation work began in April 2014. 140 large bearings were installed between the building and its foundations, effectively allowing the building to float on its foundations during an earthquake event, and significantly reducing the seismic stress on the building and its contents.

Half the bearings were used in a routine way, inserted into each of the 70 columns in the basement, while the other 70 were bespoke solutions to individual problems such as stairs, lift shafts, and at the back of the building where there is no basement.

The final stage of the programme included repairs to essential services, the interior, and the iconic glass facade. The Greenstone Group team loves the challenges that come with delivering a project on time, on budget, and to the agreed standards, and has always found a way to get the best for every project.

A case in point was the piece of art to go up on the building, Martin Creed’s 46-metre long neon light message EVERYTHING IS GOING TO BE ALRIGHT, high on the Art Gallery’s Worcester Street external wall.


Art Gallery a testament to rebuild

Greenstone Group’s Christchurch team: from left to right: Daniel Jakubcik, Adrian Matthews, Tony Webber, Nigel Cooper, and Elliot Brown.


Greenstone Group says it was quite late in the piece, but with a little bit of coaxing from Christchurch Art Gallery director Jenny Harper, everyone bought into the whole process and it’s amazing with a little bit of cooperation a huge amount can be achieved.

For a three week period, all the politics normally associated with a contract process were put aside and everyone did what they needed to get it up on the wall. When it was unveiled, it was a very uplifting moment for everyone involved.

It sent a message not only to Christchurch, but to the project team.

“We all need to pull together and look at the positives, and when you have that literally written over your head, it drives it home.”


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