Friday 23 November 2012 10:14am
The first group of staff from the University of Otago, Christchurch (UOC) will move back into their building after 21 months in temporary premises.
The UOC’s main building on the Christchurch Hospital site was closed after the earthquake of February 22, 2011.
Since then, the building has been strengthened to 120 per cent of the new building standard and the first group of researchers will move back in after a service to bless the premises on Friday 23 November.
UOC Dean Professor Peter Joyce says it will be wonderful for staff to return to refurbished laboratories and offices after almost two years working from a range of locations.
Some staff relocated to a private laboratory, while others moved to space in other University laboratories and others worked from a warehouse the University fitted-out for them.
Professor Joyce says staff continued to produce world-class research since February 2011 but did so under trying conditions.
Construction of the building was originally completed in time for the first intake of medical students in 1973. The University of Otago, Christchurch (originally named the Christchurch School of Medicine) will celebrate its 40th Anniversary in February 2013. Celebrations had to be postponed for a year until building repairs were complete. Celebrations will include open days where people can visit laboratories and the clinical simulation centre, where health professionals train on high-technology manikins, as well as a series of public lectures.
A second University of Otago, Christchurch, building in the health precinct is currently in the early stages of planning.
University of Otago property manager Jason Steed says two sets of concrete stairs in the repaired eight-storey UOC building had been demolished and replaced with steel ones to comply with new standards.
The building is concrete-reinforced with well-detailed concrete shear walls, which is one of the preferred methods of construction for new buildings in Christchurch, he says.
According to an engineering company who inspected the building, it performed equal to or better than many of the new tall buildings in the inner-city, Steed says.
Professor Joyce says a special karakia ceremony will be held on Friday November 23 to bless the building before it is re-occupied. Staff will then begin the move back into the building on Monday.
One of the first groups moving back will be the Centre for Free Radical Research. Professor Tony Kettle from the Centre says he has been incredibly impressed with the fortitude staff had shown over the past year or so.
“Everyone has worked well and without complaint in cramped conditions, with a fractured support system, and often without good access to necessary experimental equipment.
“We are keen to get back to our laboratories and to renew our associations with other University of Otago, Christchurch, research staff and clinical colleagues at the hospital. Their collegiality has sorely been missed.’’
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