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Company:LT McGuinness, Wellington

Project:St Mary of the Angels Church, Wellington

Role:Project Director

St Mary of the Angels is a heritage listed building of great cultural and architectural importance to Wellington. Following damage sustained in the 2013 Seddon earthquake, the Church was closed.

This was a very personal project for LT McGuinness, and one undertaken with a great deal of trust between contractor and client. The driver for the innovative approach that Kerrin Manuel developed for the strengthening project, was bought about by budgetary demands (the project was funded by donations and grants) and practicality.

At the heart of St Mary’s structure is ten massive portals, made up of 15-metre-high archways on supporting columns that hold up both roof and walls. Re-strengthening involved new foundation beams, new columns, and most of the portals themselves. In light of budgetary constraints, Kerrin was convinced there was a quicker and safer way to handle the core job. His original idea was that the temporary support towers for each portal could become mobile by adding structural castor wheels. This idea was further developed to become the internal rolling gantry that was ultimately used. Not only was the innovation practical, it cut 15 weeks out of the program.

The innovation had immediate benefits for the St Mary of the Angels project, while providing longer term benefits for the construction industry, as the system can be utlised for other projects.