Article first appeared in Scoop NZ
New Zealand property mogul Sir Bob Jones has announced plans to demolish the Leader's Building in Wellington make way for a new 12-storey office block. Standing 52m tall, it is due to be completed in 2018.
As New Zealand's largest private prime office building owner Sir Bob this week unveiled plans for the new building. Laminated timber is far more earthquake-resilient and fire-resistant than steel or reinforced concrete and also more environmentally friendly, he says.
The Featherson Street building will be 12 storeys, making it taller than 10-storey 25 King, the current tallest office building in the world, which is under construction in Brisbane.
Sir Bob says that when he broached the idea of using timber with architects and engineers there was great excitement. “They’ve been waiting for it to happen. New Zealand has a great strategic advantage with a plentiful supply of wood, but very few buildings are made this way here.”
Sir Bob predicts timber will be the principal material for high rises in the future and potentially there will be huge export markets for laminated or engineered wood.
“There’s no limit to how high you can go with it,” he said. “It’s really relevant to New Zealand, not only to stop importing steel and start processing our timber, but it’s relevant for earthquake reasons. It’ll be the most earthquake-safe building.”
“It’s a modern office building on a corner facing north,” Sir Bob said. “What we’re talking about here are the key structural elements, the columns and the cross beams, and we are going to put wooden floors on it.”
Sir Bob is baffled as to why more developers haven’t looked at laminated wood, particularly in the Christchurch rebuild. “There’s such a very good rationale for it ... but they will from now, these things are contagious. But it is interesting, it should have been done sooner.”