St James Theatre Seismic Strengthening

St James Theatre Seismic Strengthening

Shand Shelton

The St James Theatre has been an icon of the Capital since its opening in 1912. But the 1600-seat theatre was yellow-stickered in 2015 after an engineering assessment estimated it met only 20-30% of building code.

Maycroft is working with Wellington City Council, Beca, Tonkin & Taylor and Shand Shelton to strengthen and restore the much-loved theatre for the future. We were engaged under an ECI contract to provide early buildability advice before delivering the significant restoration and seismic strengthening works to bring the theatre up to 67% of building code.read more

The ECI framework is well-suited to working in a Category 1 Heritage Listed Building like the St James. Having the opportunity to fully understand the building in advance enabled us to work through challenges, reduce risk and offer beneficial cost savings to the Client. It also enabled us to engage with key stakeholders like the Royal New Zealand Ballet (who call the St James Theatre home) to ensure our programming and construction approach delivered the best outcomes for them. We’ve constructed a temporary building that will house the RNZB while the strengthening works are undertaken.

To complete the restoration works, we’re installing over 100 tonnes of structural steel into the historic theatre - a delicate undertaking to say the least. We’re using Point Cloud software to digitally map the theatre so that we can work out how best to install the steel in advance – saving time on site and preventing any damage to the building’s heritage fabric. Point Cloud has also offered another advantage – allowing us close out detailing and identify any potential clashes in advance.

Our scope also includes sprayed concrete shear walls inside the building, ischebeck drilled ground anchors, installation of fibre-reinforced plastic and repairs to heritage plasterwork. Complex temporary works are needed to access some of the hard-to-reach spots within the theatre.

All our work has to be undertaken with meticulous care to protect the St James’ heritage features and to ensure the finished product meets the standard expected for a performance venue.

Adding further challenge, the St James is located right on Courtney Place – requiring significant interface with neighbouring businesses and the public. We plan all our works carefully to minimise disruption and keep the public safe.

We’re delighted to be part of restoring such an important part of the Wellington’s history. The restoration works will safeguard the St James for the future, ensuring this grand old venue remains at the heart of the Capital’s art scene for many years to come.


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