Auckland University is in the midst of its $2 billion two-decade upgrade as it narrows its focus from five to three campus sites and upgrades, demolishes or extends a number of buildings. We’ve been the University’s structural engineering partner on several projects under this programme.

In 2014 the University of Auckland awarded us the Building 405 Engineering School project via a competitive selection process. They engaged us as a result of our long-standing relationship that’s seen us deliver innovative, functional and aesthetically-pleasing solutions on other University projects.

The University wanted a structure-led process, which saw us take the design lead in the early stages. The success of this came down to our strong working relationship, and close collaboration, with the architect. We played a key role in scoping the project during the preliminary design phase (which took around 2 years). In the end we decided the best and most cost-effective solution would be to demolish the existing building and construct a 12 storey new building in its place.

BIM has played a major part in the design of this project. Our draftees have developed a strong relationship with the other design offices, and all of the design information is shared electronically via the BIM model and detailed snips from it.  We have succeeded in speeding up the design process, maintaining accuracy and eliminating clashes between structure and AEC disciplines.  This will be evident in reduced construction cost.

Benefits of having us on the team:
  • A really important consideration for our client was the building had to be designed for future flexibility. Our response was to design a single line of columns down the middle of the buildings with long spans and no internal walls. This gives the University maximum flexibility should they decide to reconfigure the space in future.


  • Because this building will house the engineering school, we deliberately designed it with the engineering hanging out (i.e. visible). This allows the University staff to use the structural elements when teaching their students. As a result, we’ve incorporated a number of leading edge structural components in the design, such as buckling-restrained braces for seismic performance and the Resotec visco-elastic damping system to control floor vibrations.