Tag Archives: Leith Flood Protection Scheme

Report from the University Landscape Trenches : Financial shoring collapsing, trouble brewing

Received from Rhodes
Mon, 24 Oct 2016 at 9:14 p.m.

Saturday’s ODT had an interesting article about delays on the troubled University of Otago landscaping project. This article is the canary in the University construction goldmine, as there are other even much larger disputes brewing on current University projects that certainly will become a goldmine for the contractors, to the detriment of the University’s financial health.

uoo-landscaping-20160508_135933Hoarding, University of Otago

Mr Mackay said the complications on the landscaping included “replacing old water, sewage and drainage pipes”. What he did not say is that this work was meant to have been done two summers ago, BEFORE the academic year, but due to the project management, it was not. However, this landscaping project is small beer, there are much bigger problems looming.

The University, in their biggest ever project, at the 11th hour, on the “advice” of a contractor, Fletcher Construction, who we understand did not even finally submit a bid, told the University they could save a few hundred thousand on the $100 million project by deleting the need for a cost control schedule…. that would have severely limited what the contractors could charge for changes and extra work. In a monumental display of incompetence, the University stopped production of the schedule – which was already underway and had to be part paid for anyway and put the drawings and specifications out to tender without a schedule. If the drawings were 100% complete and the University wasn’t to change its mind that would be OK, but the Pope is more likely to preach at Canterbury Cathedral than this happening. Of course, the drawings are woefully incomplete, and the arguments and changes have started. Watch out for Someone from the University Property Services division, in about a year, to be in full dissembling mode about the delays, and how, “even though it’s six months late, it’s still on budget”. If that is the case, the budget has massive doses of incompetency cover built into it !

An additional problem that’s about to come home to roost in the University and Otago Polytechnic’s coffers is insistence, by University Property Services, on the use of “Early Contractor Involvement” (ECI). (Someone at University Property Services has never met a new construction euphemism he did not use or a project delay that he could not justify). Both the University and Polytech on recent large projects have engaged in tender processes where there is no fixed sum, because the documents are far from complete, and the current fashion du jour is to have “early contractor involvement” where the builders are paid to be involved in the design phase, to provide “constructability” expertise. Basically the builders make a submission to say what nice people they are, and advise percentage site overhead and profit margins they would build the project for. The rest of the cost, about 85-90%, is just guesswork. (“Provisional Sums”). This process allows the “tender evaluation team” (mainly the Architect and the University) to choose who they want, without regard to price, because the weighting for “non-price attributes” is a lot more than 50% of the total weighting.

On both the University commerce building project, just started by Naylor Love, and the Polytechnic Hostel project (also won by Naylor Love), this was the process. Both projects are around $20 million all up. Significantly, the architect on both projects was Mason & Wales. There were a number of other consultants in the design teams. The politest way to put the next point is that there appeared to be “confusion” about the proposed early contractor involvement process from the team. It was thought, inexplicably, that this wonderful new system of selecting builders without worrying about price meant not only did they get to choose ones with very high margins who wouldn’t cause problems when the inevitable design problems arose, some consultants also thought that they could charge full fees and offload all of the detailing onto the builder…. which of course did not happen. Builders, in the South Island anyway, do not employ armies of CAD operators who can document bespoke large projects. That is what designers are for…. In both cases, the successful Naylor Love bid was hundreds of thousands of dollars more expensive than lower bids. Also in the case of both bids, the University and the Polytech paid a premium of around $500-600,000 to have the “ECI/ constructability” experience of Naylor Love…. only to find that the advice received was NOT what was expected…. the Polytech project has been now costed by Naylor Love and is $1.5-2.0 million over budget, and the “expert” constructability / ECI advice that the Polytech effectively paid $600,000 for is…. wait for it…. to make the building smaller. Hmmm, expensive and brief advice! Best not tell the Humanities students ! The other unsuccessful contractors may well feel aggrieved about how this process played out, as before they were even allowed to provide a proposal they had to prove their capability and experience to do the work, so in theory all tenderers were equally capable, and there was no logical reason for the favouritism to Naylor Love…. but were there other reasons ? There appears no meaningful financial oversight, the project teams seem a law unto themselves, and the suspicion is that both institutions’ funds are being spent in a very free and easy fashion.

[ends]

Related Posts and Comments:
18.7.16 Misero-mercenary at U of O
1.7.16 No one wants to work for U of O
25.9.15 University calling Property Services
28.3.15 University of Otago landscaping
24.7.13 University: Leith flood protection scheme and landscaping
31.5.13 University of Otago development plans
27.5.13 Carisbrook and Leith flood protection
17.11.10 Leith Lindsay Flood Protection Scheme
17.5.10 Campus Master Plan
28.1.10 University of Otago Campus Master Plan

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

This post is offered in the public interest.

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University: Leith flood protection scheme and landscaping

Water of Leith - University Registry area (odt.co.nz] screenshot

Proposed landscaping within the university’s heritage precinct. The St David St footbridge will be extended. [graphic via ODT]

### ODT Online Wed, 24 Jul 2013
Registry stretch of Leith set for summer revamp
By Rebecca Fox
The stretch of the Water of Leith in front of the University of Otago’s registry building looks set to get a multimillion-dollar makeover this summer. Students, staff and visitors could soon be able to walk along grassy verges next to lowered banks of the river, from the St David St footbridge to the Union St bridge, if a design plan is approved at an Otago Regional Council committee meeting tomorrow.
It has been about seven years since the council and the university signed an agreement to work together to produce a plan to suit the council’s need for flood protection and the university’s need for an aesthetic look in front of its historic registry building.
The council had budgeted $5.4 million over the next 12 months for the work. The university and the council are each to fund half the cost of the aesthetic work.
Among the work to be endorsed by the committee is the lowering of most of the concrete wall on the east bank, extending the footbridge, cutting down the west bank and landscaping and footpath redevelopment.
Read more

Related Posts and Comments:
27.5.13 Carisbrook and Leith flood protection
17.11.10 Leith Lindsay Flood Protection Scheme
17.5.10 Campus Master Plan
28.1.10 University of Otago Campus Master Plan

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

42 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, Design, Economics, Geography, Heritage, Media, Name, NZHPT, ORC, Project management, Property, Site, Tourism, Town planning, University of Otago, Urban design, What stadium

University of Otago development plans

University of Otago Registry and Clocktower Building [physics.otago.ac.nz] 1University of Otago Stadium building [otago.ac.nz] 2When previously . . .

### ODT Online Thu, 30 May 2013
$358m vote of confidence
By Vaughan Elder
The figure the university has earmarked for construction, from last year until 2020, was revealed in the university’s priority development plan, obtained by the Otago Daily Times under the Official Information Act. The plan includes 22 projects, 20 of which are in Dunedin. The university declined to reveal the budgets for individual projects, citing commercial sensitivity, but put the total budget for the work at $357.8 million.

University chief operating officer John Patrick said the projects were included in the plan for a number of reasons, including to accommodate growth, to improve building layout and efficiency and health and safety.

Asked how the university could afford such a large amount of work, given what it had previously described as a “difficult” funding environment, Mr Patrick said: “The University of Otago has a fiscal strategy that is designed to provide funding for capital development.”
Read more

30.5.13 ODT: University updates staff on quake work

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Images: (top) physics.otago.ac.nz – University of Otago Registry and Clocktower; otago.ac.nz – Building at University Plaza

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Carisbrook and Leith flood protection

Received from Rob Hamlin.
Monday, 27 May 2013 1:03 p.m.

Carisbrook on Sunday (26.5.13)

Carisbrook 26.5.13. Rob Hamlin 1
A picture of doomed dereliction – Innit? I tried to take photos of this last week, but the weather wasn’t good enough. I seem to recall that the comb lines in the manicured grass were going in a different direction then, indicating that further ratepayer-funded pampering has occurred this last week. What earthly reason can there be for the DCC to be spending money doing this on a structure that they claim they have a) sold and b) issued a demo permit for? Some seats are missing (but could be inside). The lights are gone, but Delta bought the last set anyway so why not ‘play it again Sam’?

Otago Regional Council – Leith Flood Protection Scheme

Water of Leith 001 (1)001 ‘Sad Sacking’
The results of the equally seawall-like doomed attempts by the ORC and their representatives to establish a million dollar[?] lawn in the middle of winter in the bottom of a drainage channel occupied by a major flood prone waterway (the Leith). An act of simply heroic lunacy. This is the aftermath of the minor flood last week. The proto-lawn is covered in sacking further up the river, except for the bit next to the water – that’s now wrapped around the post in the foreground. Luckily it did not end up in the harbour – although many tons of silt presumably did. No doubt the ORC will be able to issue itself with a retrospective resource consent for this uncontrolled discharge into the environment.

Water of Leith 002 (1)Water of Leith 004 (1)002, 004 ‘Washed away’
For weeks now and presumably at great expense to the ORC, the contractors (Lund if the site signs are to be believed) have been laying down what looks like micropore mat, hexagon reinforcement, and what looks like a very expensive chicken wire plastic mesh combo – stitched together. They then planted grass on it. This can be seen growing feebly on the slope in 002. Alas, the minor flood that dislodged the sacking also gently sluiced out the soil and grass from the expensively-laid reinforcements on the level parts of the lawn laid (lunacy) right up to the edge of the river.

Water of Leith. Robert Hamlin (1)000 gives a higher angle shot showing the artistry of this now exposed and empty (of soil) soil stabilisation system, along with the feeble grass above it. I am not sure how they will reposition the soil into this stuff short of ripping it up and starting again. Presumably if all this expensive stuff was intended to stop soil coming out, it will be equally good at resisting attempts to put it back in again by mechanical means. Oh dear!

Water of Leith 003 (1)003 ‘Mighty defences’
Here we have what is actually supposed to keep the Leith in the straight and narrow from now on. This is the concrete shuttering for an incomplete part of the bank (this shuttering is now filled with shyte from the flood). The wall when poured (one hopes after clearing out said shyte) will be a worthy successor to the St Clair seawall – it is about 12 inches tall and 8 inches thick. It is plastered onto the top of (rather than onto the front of as with the seawall) the remains of its more substantial predecessor. The lawn (in the areas where it used to be there) starts directly behind it…

Water of Leith 005 (1)005 ‘Classy concrete placing’
The mighty foot-high defences take an interesting course in the photograph taken looking up the left-hand bank from the Forth Street Bridge. I do not know if this feature-bulge in the mighty wall is the outcome of a molar-like architectural design feature to increase the organic appearance of the site or if it’s simply a concrete shuttering quality control issue. It’s your rates money – you decide.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

*Photos: Rob Hamlin (May 2013)

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