CTV building catastrophe: a catalogue of tragic failure

by Rebecca Macfie / 10 December, 2012
The lethal building should never have been consented, finds Royal Commission.
Christchurch earthquake - CTV building
photo Geoff Sloan


The Canterbury Television building twisted, tilted towards the east, jolted, and then pancaked down. The collapse was complete within 10 to 20 seconds of the start of the February 22, 2011 earthquake. Shortly after, fire took hold that burned for several days.

The failure of the CTV building took 115 lives.

The Canterbury Earthquake Royal Commission’s report on the building’s collapse was released today. Here are the key points:

  • The CCC’s consenting officer, Graeme Tapper, identified deficiencies in the building’s design, but it is likely he was directed to approve it after the principal of the engineering design company, Alan Reay, convinced Tapper’s boss that his concerns were unfounded.

  • The Alan Reay employee who did the design and signed off the drawings, David Harding, had never designed a multi-storey building of this type before, and was not competent for the task although he believed at the time that he was.

  • Alan Reay did not check Harding’s design.

  • Reay convinced the CCC’s building engineer, Bryan Bluck (Tapper’s boss) that the design was satisfactory despite knowing little about the structural details and not having reviewed any of the structural drawings prior to the permit being issued.


There were also deficiencies in the construction of the building, the commission concludes:

  • The foreman on the job was not properly guided by the construction manager, Gerald Shirtcliff (who has been revealed to have faked his engineering credentials and stolen another man’s identity).

  • One notable construction defect was a lack of “roughening” of construction joints between precast and in situ concrete, which should have been visible to the supervising engineer if he was doing regular inspections, as well as to the foreman and construction manager.

  • A five-month period elapsed during construction without CCC  inspections.


When the building was put up for sale in 1990, engineer John Hare of Holmes Consulting did a pre-purchase inspection and found non-compliant connections between the floors and the north wall. This was reported to Alan Reay Consultants. Reay’s firm installed some remedial features, but no building consent was sought for these and the firm did not carry out its own full review of the building.

After the September 2010 earthquake, the building was inspected by the CCC and by the building owners’ consultant and deemed safe for continued occupancy. After the December 26, 2010 quake it received only a “level 1” assessment, and was again green-stickered. The building manager did not consider it necessary to undertake a more detailed assessment.

The commission identifies four critical design failures that contributed to the building’s catastrophic collapse:

  • The failure to adequately design the beam-column joint zones;

  • The failure to provide adequate strength between the floors and the north wall complex;

  • Inadequate confinement of the columns;

  • The failure to identify clearly the need to roughen the interface between the ends of the precast beams and the in situ concrete in the beams.



For more on the EQ Royal Commission’s findings, click here.
MostReadArticlesCollectionWidget - Most Read - Used in articles
AdvertModule - Advert - M-Rec / Halfpage

Latest

Richard Prebble: Jacinda Ardern will face the tyranny of events
86009 2018-01-19 00:00:00Z Politics

Richard Prebble: Jacinda Ardern will face the tyra…

by Richard Prebble

I predicted Bill English would lose the election and the winner would be Winston Peters. But no forecaster, including the PM, predicted her pregnancy.

Read more
Aokigahara: More than just the ‘suicide forest’
85966 2018-01-19 00:00:00Z World

Aokigahara: More than just the ‘suicide forest’

by Justin Bennett

It's known as a 'suicide forest', but Justin Bennett found Aokigahara's quiet beauty outweighed its infamous reputation.

Read more
Truth and Lye: New perspectives on the brilliance of Len Lye
85816 2018-01-19 00:00:00Z Arts

Truth and Lye: New perspectives on the brilliance …

by Sally Blundell

New essays on New Zealand-born US artist Len Lye elevate him to the status of Australasia’s most notable 20th-century artist.

Read more
Brain activity may hold the secret to helping infertile couples
86046 2018-01-19 00:00:00Z Health

Brain activity may hold the secret to helping infe…

by Nicky Pellegrino

For about a third of infertility cases in New Zealand, there is no obvious reason why seemingly fertile couples struggle to conceive.

Read more
Farewells on the Auckland wharves, captured by photographer John Rykenberg
85964 2018-01-19 00:00:00Z Life in NZ

Farewells on the Auckland wharves, captured by pho…

by Frances Walsh

More than one million images from Rykenberg Photography, taken around Auckland, are now in the Auckland Libraries Collection. But who are the people?

Read more
'Termite hell' for Golden Bay man after he woke covered in insects
86027 2018-01-18 11:59:55Z Environment

'Termite hell' for Golden Bay man after he woke co…

by Hamish Cardwell

A Golden Bay man spending his first night in his new house says he woke to find his bed, walls and floor covered in hundreds of creepy crawlies.

Read more
Ten ‘stealth microplastics’ to avoid if you want to save the oceans
86015 2018-01-18 11:18:49Z Environment

Ten ‘stealth microplastics’ to avoid if you want t…

by Sharon George and Deirdre McKay

There's a growing movement to stop the amount of wasteful plastic that goes into our oceans, but what about the tiny bits we can hardly see?

Read more
It's time to chlorinate New Zealand's drinking water
86001 2018-01-18 09:41:15Z Social issues

It's time to chlorinate New Zealand's drinking wat…

by The Listener

The inconvenience to chlorine refuseniks is tiny compared with the risk of more suffering and tragedy from another Havelock North-style contamination.

Read more