A hyper-robust new aluminium cladding solution was adopted to remedy the degraded stone facade of a council-owned tower in central Auckland. Located in the heart of the CBD, this project required the strictest safety protocols to keep pedestrians safe.
135 Albert Street is a 31-storey, 1990s office tower in central Auckland owned by Auckland Council. In 2015, Symonite was engaged by Hawkins to replace the stone façade, which had to be removed due to cracks in the granite cladding, along with degradation of the original stone fixing systems. A 7,000 sqm new aluminium façade has been installed to bring the cladding up to modern standards.
A lightweight cladding solution
Working with architects GHD, we developed a lightweight, high-performance, low-maintenance façade solution to match the look of the original granite. ‘We needed a system with the right aesthetic,’ says Sean Phillips, the Symonite project manager, ‘as seen both from the city and by building users looking out. It also needed excellent weather and seismic performance.’
The aluminium selected was a stone-look Alucobond, a highly durable, fire-rated and CodeMark-certified product. The system was project tested to AS/NZS 4284 – a weather and seismic test in a controlled booth environment. We built the wall inside the booth, then generated hurricane conditions and used hydraulic rams to test and verify seismic performance.
Our Design & Engineering team developed a hybrid open-joint system (hook-and-pin) to fix the façade to the building over the thoroughly waterproofed substructure. This system provided a ‘belt and braces’ second line of defence to ensure that the sealed joints have three layers of protection: seal, ladder chain rail and an under-flashing. This hyper-robust solution is unique to this job and designed to reduce maintenance requirements to an absolute minimum.
CBD location required maximum H&S
‘The sheer height of the building presented critical risks, so a robust staging platform was engineered around the base of the tower,’ explains AJ Spicer, project manager for Hawkins. ‘With enclosed climbing platforms up to level 28, the biggest challenge was working at height and guaranteeing the safety of workers and pedestrians below. Working with tethering tools and catch nets, and absolutely rigorous daily safety protocols, a big collective effort was needed.’
This was a unique job with many processes that had to be developed from scratch by Hawkins in collaboration with Symonite. For example, the teams developed special mast climbing platforms perched high above the pedestrians. ‘It’s not often that a job is 120 metres in the air, with 50,000 blocks of granite that need to be removed and replaced,’ says Spicer. ‘We had to ensure the total safety of both workers and pedestrians – all while the mayor is looking out of his window!’ The job required real user sensitivity, with the thousands of council workers and staff from private companies operating within the tower daily.
‘The Symonite team had a whatever-it-takes attitude to deliver the façade project safely and to a high standard,’ adds Spicer. ‘That really came down to the team’s attitude, which was delivery focused and collaborative, so we were 100% aligned. It was one of those jobs where you have really good teams working together to come up with a great outcome. The council was really happy with the look and the delivery, and all done with a primary focus on safety.’
Project: 135 Albert Street, Auckland
Product and service: Full design and installation of Alucobond Architect: GHD | Main Contractor: Hawkins
Construction Period: 2015 – 18
Awards: Safeguard NZ Health & Safety awards finalist. NZBIA Excellence Award for Health and Safety.
Photographer: Mark Scowen