An engineering assessment of the Masterton Library building has found parts of the building need strengthening to bring it up to building standards.

Masterton District Council moved to better understand how the building would perform in a moderate earthquake last year and engaged LGE Consulting to carry out a detailed seismic assessment.

The assessment has found the building is generally sound, but two isolated parts need strengthening.

Masterton District Council Chief Executive Kath Ross says staff and public safety is of paramount importance.

“We have discussed the assessment with engineers to determine whether the building should be closed to the public, such as was the case with the Wellington Library and the Masterton Town Hall,” Ms Ross said.

“This is a very different situation and we have decided it does not need to be closed. A public notice will be put up to ensure library visitors are aware of the building’s status.

“Alternative working arrangements will be made for staff not wishing to work in the affected area which, in this case, the area around or above the mezzanine floor. We are also happy to manage any requests from the public if they choose not to go through that area.”

Specifically, the connections between horizontal beams holding up the mezzanine floor and upright concrete columns need to be strengthened. This connection alone has contributed to the building being assessed at 25% of New Building Standards*. In its report, LGE Consulting says “if this connection was remediated the building would achieve a rating of 70% NBS”.

Additional fixtures also need to be put around air conditioning units in the ceiling cavity.

Ms Ross said it was important to remember there is no higher risk today than there was almost 40 years ago when the building was constructed.

“What has changed are the rules around identifying earthquake-prone buildings and the process which building owners need to follow to bring buildings up to standard.”

Council is engaging contractors to carry out the required work with an expectation it will be completed within the next two months. If members of the public have questions about the status of the building they are encouraged to call 06 370 6300.

*Buildings that meet less than 34% of New Buildings Standards are considered earthquake-prone.


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FAQS: MASTERTON LIBRARY EARTHQUAKE ASSESSMENT

What’s the problem with the library building?

Last year Masterton District Council took the proactive step to better understand how the library building would perform in a moderate earthquake. We have received what’s called a ‘Detailed Seismic Assessment’ completed by an engineer. This assessment found the building is generally sound, aside from two isolated areas.

Specifically, the connections between horizontal beams holding up the mezzanine floor and upright concrete columns need to be strengthened. This connection alone has contributed to the building being assessed at 25% of New Building Standards. Buildings that meet less than 34% of New Building Standards are considered ‘earthquake-prone’. In its report, LGE Consulting says “if this connection was remediated the building would achieve a rating of 70% NBS”.

What is Council planning to do?

We have discussed the assessment with engineers to determine whether the building should be closed to the public, such as was the case with the Wellington Library and the Masterton Town Hall. This is a very different situation and we have decided it does not need to be closed.

We have advised staff of the building’s status and a public notice has been put up on the outside of the building.

We have already initiated work to get repairs underway as soon as possible, including submitting a building consent for the required work. It’s our hope that the work will be completed within the next two months. We’re expecting most of the repairs can be undertaken with the library remaining open and cordons placed around the areas of work.

Why aren’t you closing the library like Council did with the Town Hall?

Every building has its own characteristics – the Town Hall is a complex building and the engineering assessment of that building presented significant challenges in bringing it up to building standards. This prompted the decision to close the building.

The assessment of the library building paints a very different picture; it has identified two isolated areas that need attention and can be rectified relatively quickly. We’ve discussed the possibility of closure with the engineer that completed the report and have made the decision that it’s not necessary.

Is there a risk to staff and public safety?

A building that is classified as ‘earthquake-prone’ indicates it is more likely to sustain damage in a moderate earthquake. It’s important to note it is still the same building it was yesterday, and almost 40 years ago; there is no higher risk today. What has changed is the legislation used to identify buildings that need improvements and the way the public is notified.

With the library building, the earthquake-prone status relates to two isolated parts of the building which can be repaired relatively (within two months).

What if I don’t want to go into the library? How can I access services?

We are hoping to have the work completed within two months so hopefully we can arrange a way to ensure you can still access our library services. Please give us a call on 06-370 6253. Don’t forget we also have great online services; www.library.mstn.govt.nz