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Christchurch Boys High School Assembly Hall

Christchurch Boys High School Assembly Hall

Ideas

Out of disaster and tragedy, there is often room for opportunity and progress. For Christchurch Boys’ High School this was undoubtedly true. The former Christchurch Boys’ High School hall was significantly damaged during the devastating 2010-2012 earthquakes, and, as a result, demolition was required. This presented the opportunity for the design and construction of a modern assembly hall space for whole-school gatherings and ultimately provide a physical heart to the history-rich school community. 

The overarching vision was to free up a construction platform and build a new 1,500 capacity area for whole-school assemblies, which increasingly require increased flexibility and functionality in order for engaging and meaningful assemblies to occur. Physically, the site was very constrained and the new hall was required to be built onto the existing main block at the school – a Category 1 Heritage Listing, completed in 1926. Christchurch Boys’ High School has a rich heritage, with many buildings and design aspects reflecting this. Fortunately, many heritage items of great value and significance to the school and community were successfully salvaged from the old hall and incorporated into the construction of the new hall. This allowed for the best of both worlds, with the important history being preserved while a modern and flexible space was created and will be able to serve the school community for years to come.

In addition to the hall, numerous other buildings at the school were demolished or relocated as part of the enabling stage of redevelopment at Christchurch Boys’ High School, overseen by the Ministry of Education. Prior to Greenstone Group’s involvement, numerous separate projects were taking place in isolation from one another. Greenstone Group appreciate the value of collaboration and cohesiveness; thus, Greenstone Group’s first action was to bring these disparate projects into one Programme of Work, allowing touch points to be addressed and risks to be appropriately managed.

Greenstone Group’s experience and collaborative approach continued in their time management of the project. The school, obviously, needed to remain fully operational while work took place. Greenstone Group ensured major work likely to cause disruption to learning was scheduled for term breaks and the summer holiday break. Greenstone Group closely collaborated with the contractor, school staff and HazardCo to ensure from the outset that the construction site allowed for safe pathways around the school. To minimize the time the school would be without the hall, the design timeframe was compressed and obtaining consents occurred concurrently with issuing work packages to the contractor. This was stressful, at times, but Greenstone Group’s experience and thorough planning ensured more resources were employed when required to remove potential conflicts and pinch points. Just as it takes a village to raise a child, a similar team effort is required for the success of a major project like this. Greenstone Group’s leadership and attention to detail ensured this could occur.

Transformation

Greenstone Group ensured a ‘Best for project’ mindset was adopted by all involved with this exciting and rewarding opportunity. As part of the Ministry of Education’s Christchurch Schools Rebuild Programme, the pathway was already fairly well established when Greenstone Group were first onboarded to the project. They had a panel of contractors eager to tender the construction works. As detailed designs and consents were not, at that stage, obtained in full, there were numerous likely variation decisions to investigate and agree upon post-contract-award. Collaboration and careful leadership were key here, both of which Greenstone Group deftly ensured. Greenstone Group worked closely with the design team, contractor, school and client to address, evaluate and plan for these in a no-surprises environment. Ultimately, this transparent communication allowed for the delivery of a successful project, with the end result benefitting the rangatahi of Christchurch Boys’ High School.

The value of collaboration and cohesiveness was seen through Greenstone Group’s integration of the previously separate projects. Greenstone Group certainly added value to the development through the integration of the Energy Centre Project with the hall project. This led to cost-saving, brought forward enabling works for future development at the school and, simultaneously, future-proofed the critical service infrastructure of the school. The Ministry of Education and the school had been struggling to agree on an energy source for heating. Greenstone Group’s attention to detail allowed all options to be carefully examined against the Ministry of Education’s requirements and the school’s needs, enabling an agreement to be reached between all parties. Again, this collaboration ultimately served to benefit the students of the school and provide an environment for learning to occur without functional details being a barrier to student success.

Arguably, one of the most important factors in the successful delivery of a project are the professional relationships the project manager fosters. Greenstone Group’s whole programme approach was invaluable in bringing together numerous separate projects, which, unchecked, would have created conflicts during construction. This project has further strengthened Greenstone Group’s relationships with the Ministry of Education, other consultants in Christchurch and with the Heritage and Consent teams at the Christchurch City Council. Greenstone Group’s agility and willingness to support a fast-changing programme environment at the school was well-received and appreciated by the client and stakeholders.

Reality

The success of this project can be felt when in attendance at full school gatherings in the new hall. A clear sense of mana and pride is evident in both staff and students when they are gathered in this valuable new space that encapsulates the rich heritage of the school while also providing the functionality required in today’s technology-rich society. The vision of this project was brought to life very effectively and continues to receive overwhelmingly positive feedback. There has been a significant increase in external organisations hiring the hall for a range of events, further justifying the building’s flexibility.

Greenstone Group have been commended for so expertly completing the challenging first phase of redevelopment at Christchurch Boys’ High School for the Ministry of Education. The Ministry of Education, school and new design team have also expressed gratitude for the way in which Greenstone Group future-proofed the school and site for future stages of redevelopment. Greenstone Group’s thorough planning and experience allowed for all parties to view this project as an immense success.

The sentiments expressed by individuals involved in the project are clear evidence of the value Greenstone Group added to this exciting redevelopment. Craig Morrison, Delivery Manager for the Ministry of Education, commended Greenstone Group’s leadership and states the project has, “Put a heart back into the school, where the boys can come together as one.” Morrison is, “Very proud of what we have achieved,” and believes the “dynamic” new building, “Sits well next to the old historic building… and also fits in well with the historic elements that have been salvaged and restored from the old hall.”  Not only did Greenstone Group’s expertise allow for the important elements of the past and the present to integrate for a successful project, but, in Craig Morrison’s opinion, “The end result is a building that will see Christchurch Boys’ High School through the next 100 years.”

Greenstone Group had myriad project and development management responsibilities in this complex yet rewarding project. Ultimately, the biggest responsibility that Greenstone Group had, and so expertly achieved, was turning disaster into opportunity. Rather than a school with such a rich history simply losing their beloved school hall, Greenstone Group ensured a community worked together to preserve as much of that special heritage as possible while successfully creating a new heart for the school where that tangible sense of school pride will be felt for years to come.