We’re the IStructE Supreme Award Winners for 2021

We’re the 2021 Supreme Award Winners for the highly coveted Structural Engineering Awards!

3D Cam view of the award winning Christchurch Town Hall.

It doesn’t get more prestigious than this!

Our entry won not only our category for ‘Structural Heritage’ but also the highly coveted and exclusive Supreme Award, at the 2021 Structural Awards by The Institution of Structural Engineers.

Established in 1968, the Structural Awards are the world’s leading awards for structural engineering excellence.

Winning both of these prestigious awards is an incredible achievement for everyone here at Holmes Consulting (NZ) who worked on this exciting but challenging project that won – The Christchurch Town Hall.

This conservation project demanded a full spectrum of technically complex structural and geotechnical solutions. Solving ground stabilisation issues and predicting the future performance of the structure and foundations were achieved through detailed analysis and intensive co-ordination between the geotechnical and structural engineers.

Complex analysis was employed to minimise the strengthening work required for the superstructure. The result preserves the original character and style of the building and protects the existing fabric – a positive both for sustainability and our client – Christchurch City Council.

The Judges commented, “This project is an excellent example of what structural engineers can bring to a devastated existing building. By understanding its behaviour and failure, the team was able to repair and preserve this important structure”.

Special thanks goes to our fantastic team of project partners as well:
Client: Christchurch City Council
Principal Contractor: Hawkins
Commercial Manager: Rider Levett Bucknall
Geotechnical Engineer: Tonkin + Taylor
Quantity Surveyor: Rider Levett Bucknall
Fire Engineer: Holmes Fire



Acclaimed for its architecture and acoustics, Christchurch Town Hall is a local landmark. Following devastating earthquakes in 2010 and  2011, the original building required significant structural repair and strengthening of the supporting foundations. This conservation project demanded a full spectrum of technically complex structural and geotechnical solutions. Ground stabilisation issues were solved and the future performance of the structure and foundations was predicted through detailed analysis and intensive co-ordination between the geotechnical and structural engineers. Complex analysis was employed to minimise the strengthening work required for the superstructure. The result preserves the original character and style of the building and protects the existing fabric – a positive both for sustainability and the client. This project is an excellent example of what structural engineers can bring to a devastated existing building. By understanding its  behaviour and failure, the team was able to repair and preserve this important structure.


View the full list of 2021 IStructE Award Winners here.

#flashbackfriday A gift of gratitude this holiday season

This festive season we’re reflecting back on the mahi our team did for Christchurch City Mission last year…

Thanking the people of Christchurch

Every year the Christchurch City Mission supports more than 50,000 people in the community. They offer food, shelter and training – but most importantly, they give people hope. To say thank you to the community for their generosity, the City Mission commissioned the design and build of a 10m tall steel and aluminium sculpture in downtown Christchurch.

Helping hand from all of Holmes

When the City Mission asked us to help out, it was an offer we couldn’t refuse! All our New Zealand subsidiaries (Holmes Consulting, Holmes Farsight, Holmes Fire and Holmes Solutions) pitched in to help design and build this incredible sculpture. With our combined engineering powers, we helped the City Mission bring their vision to life.

Our team of expert engineers and drafters were involved from first concept design, right through to final build and installation. The sculpture’s unique double helix shape means it is largely self-supporting; it’s also wind resistant, and has a concrete base to help stabilise the 10.7 -tonne sculpture.

The double helix is also a symbol of the journey a person takes as they are supported by the City Mission. They’re given the resources and care they need to rise above their dark times and achieve amazing things.

This project was completely funded by local businesses who sponsored the build in many ways. No money from general donations towards the City Mission was spent on it.

We love the work the City Mission does and their passion to make the world a better place one life at a time.

We were honoured to be part of this amazing project. Our donation to the City Mission (in time, money and manpower) was our holiday gift to our valued clients in 2020:

A gift of gratitude and hope for the future!

Sustainable engineering – The Majestic Centre, Wellington

How do you strengthen a very large building, whilst maintaining safety, confidence and full occupancy?

New Zealand is an extreme seismic region—the seismic hazard in Wellington is comparable to San Francisco. The Majestic Centre building was assessed in 2011 and demonstrated lower than expected seismic capacity. Over the course of five years, costing NZ $83.5M , it was strengthened to 100% of code requirements, while remaining fully tenanted. The project demanded highly complex and innovative analyses, and the design and construction of a wide array of detailed strengthening measures. Our assessment used non-linear time history analysis (NLTHA) and was performance based, in accordance with ‘ASCE-41 (American Society of Civil Engineers, USA), Seismic Rehabilitation of Existing Buildings’.

Choosing a sustainable solution

Holmes Consulting were the lead Structural Engineers and Holmes Farsight led the compliance. Originally completed in 1991, the Majestic Centre is a 30 storey (116m) modern tower, providing 25,000 square meters of office space. When the seismic capacity was assessed as between 35-45% of current code requirements in 2011, the building’s value reduced from NZ $101M to NZ $67M.

Demolition was considered, with the Demo/re-build cost estimated at NZ $120M. Instead, it was elected to strengthen the building to 100% current code requirements, while maintaining tenant occupancy. This was the most sustainable solution. Significantly less energy and new materials were used in the strengthening scheme compared to what would have been required for demolition and redevelopment, not to mention less waste generated. The project also prevented the relocation of 2,700 people and loss of business/activity in this part of the city. If a large seismic event does occur, the project will also have likely prevented catastrophic failure of the structure, the associated loss of life and long term impediment to the function of this part of Wellington

The strengthening cost was NZ $83.5M, but NZ $41M was earned in rent during construction and upon completion of strengthening the building’s value increased to NZ $121M. Tangible value for the client.

The Holmes strengthening scheme design made this solution possible and was recognised by being awarded runner-up in the sustainability category of the 2017 Institution of Structural Engineers awards (the global Oscars of Engineering). Designing to minimise loss of occupied space and allow strengthening to be installed while the building remained occupied made this an economic choice for the owner as well as a sustainable one.

Some of the challenges

  • The challenge was how to carry out significant invasive seismic work, ensuring stakeholder’s continued confidence, whilst taking the lead in a new era of uncharted regulatory compliance issues.
  • From early engagement Holmes Farsight acted as the coordinator, guide and translator between the project team and the Council.
  • The solution required the parties to be focussed on ‘the real compliance risks and needs’, so a clear evaluation of all parties needs and concerns was established and agreed with Wellington City Council.
  • Holmes Farsight provided a project specific ‘smart regulating’ solution. ‘The ‘Compliance Pathway’. It achieved a comprehensive and clear compliance process, which is both cost effective and efficient.
  • It now creates precedence nationally for successful seismic improvements.

Diversity and inclusion in the workplace – ‘Big Interview’ Part 2 with Dani Paxson

D&I in the modern workplace

Sean Barker sat down with structural engineer Dani Paxson, one of our Project Directors here at Holmes. This is Part Two of her interview where she discusses her involvement in the Structural Engineering Engagement and Equity (SE3) Project, the importance of role models, and what organisations can do to help those in minority groups to excel.


Here’s a short snippet from Part Two of Dani’s interview:

My focus is on the leaks in the pipeline and why women who are entering the profession tend to leave. We are getting the right numbers of women through the front door. We have been for some time now, but they’re leaking out at a higher rate than men.

What would you say to firms, and what could New Zealand engineering and architecture firms do to stop these leaks in the pipeline?

The most fundamental first step for most companies is to consider undergoing unconscious bias training. It’s pretty eye-opening and a great place to start to understand the dynamics between genders and other demographics you probably haven’t considered within your own company. There are invisible hurdles that, once you see them, you won’t want them there, and you’ll want to do something about it.

That aside, there are some mental shifts people have to be willing to make. The first of those is to be willing to stop making excuses. So, things like blaming the pipeline theory, or deciding that women leave for any number of stereotypical reasons we lean on we don’t understand. If we stop answering these questions we don’t know the answers to, with the fill-in-the-blank answers that we hear on TV, and in the media, then the next step is to start listening. For instance, listen to what women within our organisation want. Don’t make assumptions on their behalf, but start to engage with them. Find out what they’re looking for short-term and long-term in their careers, and ask them whether they see themselves fitting at your company. 

Read Dani’s super insightful interview here

Property Council New Zealand Awards for 2020

Collaborating on award winning projects across New Zealand

Congratulations to our Holmes Consulting Civils Team and Structures Team for their projects which were winners at the Property Council New Zealand annual Property Industry Awards, which celebrate excellence in the built environment.
There are 11 award categories (shown below along with their sponsors) and one Supreme Award winner on the night:
  • Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities Multi-Unit Residential Property Award
  • Greenstone Group Education Property Award
  • RCP Commercial Office Property Award
  • Holmes Consulting Tourism and Leisure Property Award
  • Templeton Group Urban Land Developments Property Award
  • Yardi Retail Property Award
  • CBRE Industrial Property Award
  • Warren and Mahoney Civic and Arts Property Award
  • Fagerhult NZ Health and Medical Property Award
  • Naylor Love Heritage and Adaptive Reuses Property Award
  • Resene Green Building Property Award
  • Rider Levett Bucknall Supreme Award

Our Civils Team and Structures Team have done extremely well, as their project – Waste Management Headquarters (by Stride Property) completely swept the awards ceremony picking up three awards, including the prestigious Supreme Award Winner!

The NZ $45M project is a 9,100m2 facility set on five hectares in East Tamaki, is one of the first New Zealand projects to utilise the new Greenstar Design and As-Built rating tool, meaning green stormwater infrastructure was integrated into this light-industrial zoned site. The use of quality 3D modelling and construction information also enabled coordination between civil works and architectural and structural design—resulting in a complex network of pipework installed on time, with no clashes.

The office buildings vary in storeys and consist of office space, communal areas, and staff amenities. The workshops are large steel portal frame buildings used to store, repair and maintain the trucks and bins, and the auxiliary buildings are open structures used to wash the trucks and bins.

Waste Management needed to occupy the site by a set date due to an expiring lease at their current site, and so our team of experts delivered the design to a tight programme.

The project beat 114 other nominees to take home the Resene ‘Green Building Award’, the CBRE ‘Industrial Property Award’ and the Rider Levett Bucknall ‘Supreme Award’ – a huge achievement and one we’re super proud of for the teams involved!

But these weren’t the only accolades for this stellar project! Waste Management Headquarters also received an Excellence Award for the RCP ‘Commercial Office Property Award’ category too.

But this wasn’t our only major project winner last night!

The Christchurch Town Hall Conservation Project took out the Naylor Love ‘Heritage & Adaptive Reuses Property Award’, which was won by the Christchurch City Council (and project partners). Another well deserved accolade for the team, who are also finalists in the IStructE Showcase and finalists in the 2020 ACE Awards to be presented on 25 November 2020.

Our awesome project partners at Precinct Properties won for our project The Defence House in Wellington. It was awarded the RCP Commercial Office Property Award’ for their successful delivery of a fully refurbished modern office building (23,200m2) with new services, finishes, glass façade, and strengthened to 100% New Zealand Building Standard (NBS).

And lastly, the following exceptional projects were also recognised for their urban innovation which is crafting the future of Aotearoa.

    • The Wanaka Community Pool, part of the Wanaka Recreation Centre, which we worked on with Warren and Mahoney, RCP, and the Queenstown Lakes District Council received a ‘Merit Award’ for the Holmes Group ‘Tourism and Leisure Property Award’.
    • Building C – Mt Eden Corrections Facility received an ‘Excellence Award’ for the Warren and Mahoney ‘Civic and Arts Property Award’. This is a project we collaborated on with Beca and the Department of Corrections.

And our friends at Holmes Fire were part of these award winning projects too:

    • Beatrice Tinsley Building (part of the University of Canterbury) was awarded an ‘Excellence Award’ in the Greenstone Group ‘Education Property Award’.
    • SKHY received an ‘Excellence Award’ for the Kāinga Ora – Homes and Communities ‘Multi-Unit Residential Property Award’.

    Check out the full list of winners here: 2020 winners for the Property Council NZ Awards