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Aurecon innovator receives accolade for seismic contribution at New Zealand Institute of Building Awards

Te Puni Village, Victoria University, New Zealand

24 August 2010 – The New Zealand Institute of Building has announced Aurecon’s Sean Gledhill as the winner of the James Hardie Innovation Award for his world-first seismic bracing system contribution to the Te Puni Village project.

The awards programme acknowledges excellence and contribution of individuals or teams involved in all facets of the building industry. The awards ceremony was held in Auckland on Friday, 20 August 2010.

Sean is a structural engineer at Aurecon, a consulting firm providing engineering, management and specialist technical services for public and private sector clients in New Zealand and around the world.

Neil Barr, Aurecon’s New Zealand General Manager says, “Another prestigious win for Sean and the Aurecon structural team who have been pushing the boundaries of seismic engineering to further our valuable offering to our clients.”

Based in Wellington, one of New Zealand’s most seismically active cities, Sean was approached by the Victoria University of Wellington to create a leading student accommodation village that could withstand seismic activity and serve as a post disaster centre for administration operations while other campus buildings were being repaired.

This desire presented an exciting challenge for Sean and the team. There were very few cost effective, low damage solutions available for flexible steel framed buildings. This necessitated a major innovation in seismic philosophy, design and analysis.

Sean and his team invented a system based on railway damper technology to enable the building to “rock up” and lift off the ground to damper seismic energy. The design ensures life safety for occupants during extreme seismic events and surpasses traditional design by sustaining very little if any structural damage.

The finished product is an innovative seismic bracing system with a low damage design. The low damage feature developed for steel framed buildings is considered a significant industry innovation. This is expected to lead a change in seismic design philosophy and offer a breakthrough cost effective solution for steel construction.

Aurecon’s Innovation Leader, Asia Pacific, Dr Kourosh Kayvani says, “The prestigious global recognition for this innovation highlights Aurecon’s leadership in damage limiting seismic design and our ability to deliver excellent  solutions to address the full range of client needs globally.”

Sean and his team have been widely recognised for this world first seismic technology by the globally prestigious Institute of Structural Engineers in the United Kingdom IStructE (UK) awards. The Association of Consulting Engineers of New Zealand (ACENZ), the Property Council of New Zealand awards and now the New Zealand Institute of Building innovation awards.

Dr Kayvani continued, “Aurecon’s New Zealand team is leading the way in delivering excellent seismic design solutions to clients.”

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