Banks, Barron & Co Building Collapse pics

Early removal of the Parapet of the historic building. Literally brick by brick. They then took the skip down to the ground, I walked around the other side to get a pic and then the remaining section of parapet falls down onto the Dragon Cafe Verandah – my moment of photo journalism genius missed. Argh.

Showing the newly exposed inner of the ceiling cavity.

Destruction of the Verandah with the rest of the double bricked Parapet collapsing to the ground. Sadly imagery very familiar to folk from CHCH post earthquake.

The Council engineers and Historic Places Trust experts examining the Parapet, ceiling cavity and facade of the building. Speaking to experts on the ground, after the collapse of the Parapet onto the verandah new increased structural damage was done, to the extent that the double skinned brick facade was thought to be tentatively holding on to the structure – but little visible sign of actually what was holding the facade on was seen. Also fresh cracks were found on the south wall, large enough to see through the wall onto the Crown Hotel.

[Click for larger image]

After consultation with experts and engineers, it was decided to keep on with the softly softly, brick by brick approach. For this I love the Lund team taking the time and effort to do this. That bloody bush proved to be a pain for them.

[Click to enlarge]

Unfortunately they couldn’t stop everything from crashing down. This pic showed debris falling down as they try to remove a large section of the parapet. The random tree had its roots embedded very deep into the structure of the building. Reports were that there were inches of bird poo, birds nests everywhere and rotten timbers that made up the roof. Thus bricks and mortar work was rotten to the core. You could certainly see the demo team taking only soft hits to the brick with a rubber mallet to remove much of the parapet bricks.

Salvage/Demo Team

Basically the whole of the parapet of the building has gone, some fallen onto the verandah below, but much of it taken down over hours brick by brick. The plan was to go down only as far as they need to. If more damage occurred, more cracking etc, and if the engineers say, then another layer of the upper sections will be removed. They are planning to take away large sections of the Northern Wall tomorrow, as that has a huge lateral crack running the length of the wall.

Back of the building [Click to enlarge]

Posted by Paul Le Comte

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6 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, Design, Economics, Heritage, Name, New Zealand, People, Politics, Project management, Property, Site, Town planning, Urban design

6 responses to “Banks, Barron & Co Building Collapse pics

  1. Phil

    Top notch pictorial study.

  2. Stu

    Any research work been done on what causes this issue with brick?

    The brickwork at the proposed site to be redeveloped on Princes St was reported to be in the same state. Some years ago now I drilled into the brickwork atop Stafford House on the corner of Princes St/Stafford and was somewhat surprised to find that it liquified under the drill.

    • Elizabeth

      Stu – Brick and masonry buildings are well understood and researched by professionally qualified structural engineers, of which Dunedin has a reasonable number – as does Christchurch. Saying that, there are those I won’t name whom I would avoid, but same goes for all professions – it pays to ask round, try DCC or NZHPT to get the best advice on how to source appropriate building conservation professionals and specialists.

      The type of brick (hard or soft) and the type and condition of the mortar can be contributory to structural failure if not properly maintained – in the case of the mortar, repointing has to be deep. See Lou Robinson’s opinion supplied in ODT last year where he comments on mortar. Movement and settlement in the structure where roofs and floors connect to brick walls can compromise ties – most of these buildings aren’t sufficiently well braced or tied, if at all. Lack of weather seal due to neglected roof and guttering maintenance can also cause structural failure due to rotting timber components and rusted out steel. The list goes on.

      In the case of Barron’s Building (Dragon Cafe), buildings like these do not easily fall over!

      There are a number of very good building owners who know exactly how to maintain their buildings and they see to it, with regularity – as well as carrying out strengthening to guard their investment for the long term and to ensure their higher paying tenants are encouraged as long stays.

  3. daseditor

    An architectural and culinary catastrophe for the City that will leave every late night reveller and taxi driver mourning for the Chicken and bean sprout roll.

  4. David M

    A small historical note – I slightly regretted referring to the building as the Banks, Barron & Co. Building soon after my HPT nomination. It turns out Mr Banks wasn’t around for very long (in fact when the building was going up the partnership was Barron Grant & Co.). Barron was the key figure (he either was originally or became the sole owner) and the plans for alterations as late as the 1920s are labelled Barron’s Building. That’s the name I now prefer. It became Thomson’s Building around 1926 (after lawyer and owner JW Thomson). Originally there was no verandah, then a bullnose verandah was added. The present verandah (but not the angled roofing iron) was added by Thomson in 1926. The original staircase is gone. The facade is/was very original above the ground floor, apart from fire escape and the iconic neon sign.

  5. The research I did seemed to show that the original title was the Banks, Barron & Co Building – hence the name. Seemed a bit silly calling it the Dragon Cafe building – as that unfortunately seemed to associate blame to the owners of the Dragon Cafe.

    Thanks to Elizabeth for the pics too, nice that we can bring you all as much detail as possible.

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