ST JOHNS IN THE CITY

PROJECT TYPE: HERITAGE

USE: RELIGIOUS

LOCATION: WILLIS STREET, WELLINGTON

CLIENT: ST JOHNS IN THE CITY PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH

ARCHITECTS: RUSSELL MURRAY R&D ARCHITECTS

PROJECT TIMEFRAME: 2018-2020

St Johns in the City is a beautiful Category 1 Heritage Building that was constructed in 1885 from kauri and other native timbers to a design by prominent Wellington architect Thomas Turnbull. Over the years it has seen many significant gatherings such as the funerals of former prime ministers Peter Fraser and John Marshall.

LT McGuinness carried out extensive earthquake strengthening and restoration. The spire, with the cross at its apex high above the city, is the church’s defining symbol. The strengthening occurred from the cross to the foundations, with restoration and repainting inside and out, particularly of its all-embracing timber facade. Borer-affected timber was replaced and decades of old paint was stripped away.

New reinforced concrete foundation piles were cross-tied under the building and connected to side-wall buttresses. New bracing elements at the ends of the church and ply bracing to the main towers were installed. Ply lining in the two towers, vestry and choir rooms was carefully removed, numbered and stored. We used QR barcode scanning and cloud-based record management to produce an extensive QA and archive system.

The strengthening brings the church up to 70% of current building standards. Strengthening the structure of a building while maintaining its heritage fabric is always a challenge, and the engineer and conservation architect worked hard to produce a sympathetic design that made our job a lot easier.