With an increase in serious seismic events in Wellington over the past few years, the need for reliable seismic bracing has grown. In the case of the Ministry of Social Development's new headquarters, Tracklok's seismic partition ties were put to the test shortly after installation, during Kaikoura's 7.8 magnitude earthquake in November 2016. The earthquake affected large areas of New Zealand, including Wellington. While several Wellington buildings suffered damage from the earthquake, there was no damage to the MSD offices, with Tracklok's partition bracing successfully absorbing the impact of the earthquake and ensuring the integrity of the internal structures of the building.
The Ministry of Social Development's new headquarters are located in The Aurora Centre — a 1960s tower that has undergone a complete structural upgrade throughout its 18 floors. Complete with the addition of a nine storey annex replacing the demolished Aurora Chambers building, the upgraded site yields over 24,000m² lettable space.
For the interior fit-out, Studio Pacific Architecture wanted to create a flexible, open plan working environment, with a variety of working settings for different types of work. The use of partition systems was key to bringing this design to life, but didn’t come without its challenges.
Jason Kowalak, Senior Architectural Graduate at Studio Pacific explains: "The building is designed to move and flex in an earthquake, so for the partitions we had to detail these in a particular way to deal with the deflections that we were working with. The landlord also specified that the fit-out had to be designed to minimise any damage to the base building, for example, the ceiling." In order to provide bracing and minimise damage in the case of a seismic event, Tracklok bracing systems were specified for all the partition walls in the fit-out.
Supplied by PSL, Tracklok seismic partition ties are designed to seismically secure under-ceiling partition walls and glazing lines to the slab above. The proprietary system has been tested by HFC Structural Engineers, including material testing by Opus International using a series of custom designed, hydraulically powered tests to ensure it complies with NZBC requirements and manufacturers' warranties.
"What we like is that it is a proprietary product that is easy to install and we know has been tested to comply with the relevant standards for bracing," explains Kowalak. "It gave us the confidence we could brace the partition walls while being independent from the ceiling. This was a big advantage."
Working on the 56 The Terrace project, Matthew Lander, Technical Director of Structural Engineering, Beca, appreciated the fact that Tracklok was a pre-tested product, supplied with easy-to-use capacity tables. "It took a lot of the hard work out of the problem of how to brace partitions," he says.
"An architect or engineer can interpret the data sheets and design tables and apply those to the project," explains Lander. "It standardises solutions so contractors and architects are familiar with it and know what to expect and what needs to be done."
At 56 The Terrace, Tracklok's standardised, time-saving partition solution has ensured space flexibility and occupant safety without compromising the integrity of the building — as proven following the recent Kaikoura earthquake.