As the New Dunedin Hospital progresses, more and more specialist contractors lend their expertise. 

We caught up with Chris Mackenzie, Project Team Leader from Holmes Consulting, for a brief Q and A on his involvement and experience.

We understand you’ve had a hand in some of the most recognisable engineering projects in the country, can you take us through some of them, and perhaps your favourite?

I’ve certainly been fortunate through my career with Holmes Consulting to have helped deliver a wide range of major projects throughout New Zealand. Successful projects are always due to a collaborative team effort, both from the team within your own practice, the great clients we work with, as well as the fellow consultants and contractors. We have a great team on the New Dunedin Hospital, with some of the best consultants from around the country working on this important project.

If I was to pick a couple of my favourites from those major projects they would probably be the recently completed Commercial Bay project in Auckland and the Auckland War Memorial Museum redevelopment.

Commercial Bay is the NZ $700M retail and commercial development of a complete Auckland CBD waterfront city block. This was actually ten projects in one, including a 39 storey commercial tower, two curved underground CRL train tunnels within three levels of basement, a major three level retail complex, and the incorporation of two existing large commercial towers into the development. The real complexity came where all these projects came together on top of each other, requiring some major structural gymnastics.

The Auckland War Memorial Museum is my longest standing commission–currently running at 25 years and counting. We’ve had the privilege of seismically strengthening this beautiful Category 1 heritage building. Delivering the amazing modern insertions within the rear of the historic building, assisting with numerous gallery fitouts and refurbishments, and designing the current modifications underway to improve the public circulation within the building.

You also seem to have been involved in nearly every hospital project in the country too; Christchurch, Middlemore, and Waikato among them. What are some of the engineering challenges unique to hospitals?

Over the last 25 years I’ve helped deliver approximately 60% of the major healthcare projects in NZ, which has been a real privilege. I find healthcare a very rewarding sector. Hospitals don’t necessarily win lots of awards but the knowledge that you’re contributing to critical infrastructure for the future of our communities is really rewarding. Hospitals are amongst the most complex of buildings we get to design. They are more intensively serviced than any other type of building.

Hospitals are designed for much larger earthquakes than ordinary buildings and have additional post disaster demands to remain functional after large earthquakes when the community needs them the most. The performance of the structure is critical as it also impacts on the performance of all of the fitout, plant, building services, and clinical equipment. The attention to the detailing required in hospitals is crucial to achieve this performance.

It’s been a great opportunity to be able to apply the lessons we’ve learnt over this extensive period to provide better outcomes for hospitals. Our knowledge and approach has grown and evolved over the last 30 years, and we’re bringing the latest thinking to the New Dunedin Hospital with our Low Damage Design solution.

Does the challenge ahead strike you as an exciting opportunity?

Contributing to the delivery of the largest hospital ever developed in New Zealand is such a unique opportunity. This will be a fantastic career opportunity for our team members to deliver one of the most important projects in the country over the next few years.

Our Holmes team includes experts from throughout the country with a great deal of healthcare structural expertise and experience. Our sub-consultants, WSP and Tonkin + Taylor, bring additional critical specialist expertise to the project. My colleague from Christchurch, Jenny Fisher, will be helping to lead our team through the design and delivery of this project.