Christchurch Art Gallery


The Greenstone Group won the project management of the repair and reinstatement of the Christchurch Art Gallery at tender in November 2012.

Christchurch Art Gallery opened in May 2003 on a new central site at the edge of Christchurch’s historic cultural precinct. It quickly became a key public facility and important cultural asset in the city, and for New Zealand as a whole.

The Christchurch Art Gallery suffered extensive damage as result of the 2011 earthquake.  When Greenstone went in our lead project manager stated:

“My first impressions when I came onsite to Christchurch Art Gallery were almost of sadness. When you get into a building of such public significance and see it standing empty with the art held in one room, contained and stacked, it brought home the massive impact that the earthquakes have had on the community as a whole. My immediate reaction was that it’s such a shame to see a building of this size sitting there empty. It probably reflects the city centre as a whole—it was empty, and needed to be brought back to life.”

Built in 2003, the building had minor damage from the earthquakes in 2010 and 2011. However, areas of the ground beneath the 33,000-tonne building liquefied and resettled unevenly, requiring a significant programme of repairs.

Since the February 2011 earthquake, the landmark building at the edge of Christchurch’s historic cultural precinct operated as an emergency headquarters for civil defense and provided temporary accommodation for Christchurch City Council staff.


The vision for this project was to bring back the vibrant and iconic Art Gallery to its former glory. Making it seismically sound, and worthy of the Christchurch community.

Strategically, we were aiming to reinstate the Art Gallery but also improve the seismic resilience of the building.  Within the constraints of the allocated budget the Christchurch City Council required that the following objectives needed to be achieved:

  • Reinstatement of the Art Gallery to its August 2010 condition;
  • Improvement in seismic resilience; and
  • General betterment in light of operational experience.


Greenstone Group began managing the tender for the repair. Phase one of the programme was to re-level the structure. Using highly technical jet grouting technology, piles were formed under the foundations and filled with grout, slowly raising the building up and leveling it.

Potential design solutions to remediate the differential settlement of the building were complex and not merely considered as reinstating the structure as new in the context of loss of income to the client and disruption to the business.

The retrofit of the Christchurch Art Gallery Te Puna O Waiwhetu was the first use of triple friction pendulum devices for the retrofit of an existing building in New Zealand. The base isolation retrofit project was complex and required an extensive depth of technical knowledge.

An additional challenge for this project was to be within the constraints of the allocated budget from Christchurch City Council. Our team also managed the insurance claim on the building at the same time as tracking all costs to ensure they were allocated correctly.


Following seismic strengthening and retrospective base-isolation, it’s now being billed as one of the safest and most earthquake-resilient galleries in the world.  The project commenced the construction of retrofitted base isolation, the general remediation earthquake repairs, and some additional building improvements.  Greenstone Group’s involvement has been constant over the years as outlined in the Christchurch Art Gallery Bulletin.

Newshub state that “Following seismic strengthening and retrospective base-isolation, it’s now being billed as one of the safest and most earthquake-resilient galleries in the world.”

Upon completion of the project our lead project manager shared his thoughts:

“When it was unveiled, it was a very uplifting moment for everyone involved. It sends a message not only to Christchurch but to the project team. We all need to pull together and look at the positives, and when you have that literally written over your head it drives it home.”