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Salient. Victoria University Student Newspaper. Vol. 37, No 21. August 28, 1974

stop press — Hunter To Crumble!!

stop press

Hunter To Crumble!!

Photo of the Hunter building at Victoria University of Wellington

At its meeting on Monday August 26 the University Council received a report on the safety of the Hunter Building. After the minor earthquake last year cracks appeared in the building and engineers were asked to make a report on its general seismic resistance. Previously Hunter has complied with the various regulations covering unreinforced masonry constructions in Wellington, but the code was toughened in 1968 and it now does not meet them.

In a press release This morning the Council said it accepted the report and is considering how best it can be implemented. The consultants recommended that Hunter be progressively [unclear: evacuated] over the next three years with a view to its demolition at the end of this period. Particular priority is being given to providing alternatives to the main reading room of the Law Library and H312, the two areas with the highest concentration of users in the building.

The release continues "The strengthening of the building to extend its statutory life by a short period of up to 10 years would be prohibitively expensive, and it is with the greatest regret that the University Council has to face the removal of the building and its ultimate replacement.

"This regret will be shared by generations of former students, to many of whom this fine old building was the University in its entirity. It has for many years been a feature of the Wellington skyline and a landmark to the City. Nevertheless, the University Council must take note of professional advice, particularly because it has not only a legal but also a moral responsibility in the matter which affects the safety of students, staff and those numerous members of the public who use the facilities of the University.

"The University's accommodation problems are well enough known and this further loss of teaching space will call for concerted and heroic effort by all concerned if the University is to overcome the difficulties of the next few years. In the longer term the completion of the Cotton will give some relief. Further building will, however, be urgently needed to make good the deficiencies caused by the loss of Hunter."

Dr Culliford further noted to this when I spoke to him that more prefabs would have to be constructed and considerable dislocation would be caused in moving people around. LB3, now under construction, will hopefully be ready for the 1975 academic year, and thus replace H312, but the Lew Library would prove more difficult to rehouse, possibly taking into the first term of next year. The staff studies and labs of Law, Education, Music and Physics will gradually be moved out as alternative, albeit temporary, accommodation becomes available. He stated that there is still a lot of hard thinking to do on the matter.

Dr Culliford stressed, as the Council stressed in its press release, that there is no cause for immediate alarm. Hunter is still as secure now as it has been over the past few years — it is just that the regulations have become more stringent and Hunter cannot now meet them. Its demise will sadden many, as Hunter is one of the few buildings on this campus that has any character, but in the weigh-up between character and safety the University Council has undoubtedly made the right decision. There is one troubling point — in view of the serious deficiencies revealed by this latest report, in terms of the 1968 regulations, why was the building not thorougly inspected earlier?