Alan Reay says he will study commission report

CTV building an hour after collapse, photographed by NBR's Chris Hutching

The consultant whose firm designed Christchurch's CTV building says he will study the royal commission report into its collapse, but he has not seen it yet.

Liability for the collapse in the February 2011 earthquake is being explored by lawyers.

Alan Reay issued a terse statement yesterday saying: 

“I have not been provided with a copy of the royal commission's report. When I receive a copy, I will study it carefully with the assistance of the experts who assisted Alan Reay Consultants and gave extensive evidence to the commission. It is premature to make any other comment."

During the weeks of commission evidence Dr Reay changed his stance.

Initially, he said that he was correct to have given staff member David Harding the sole responsibility for carrying out the structural design for the CTV Building.

Dr Reay produced timesheets showing that he had worked on the project for 3.5 hours compared to Mr Harding’s 304 hours.

But during the course of the hearing and during cross examination the evidence showed Mr Harding had limited experience designing multi-level buildings.

By the end of the hearings Dr Reay acknowledged that after hearing all the evidence he should not have relied on Mr Harding.

However, he disputed many other aspects of the collapse which killed 115 people.

His lawyer at the hearing, Hugh Rennie QC, highlighted the catastrophic effects of the earthquakes and said the “exceptional and unprecedented” quakes were not anticipated by engineers who designed buildings in Christchurch.

Mr Rennie told the commission that knowledge about earthquake design was less advanced than today, witnesses were no longer alive and many documents were not available to give a full picture of the background to the construction of the building.

He rejected an accusation from a witness that Dr Reay had influenced city council planners.

Mr Rennie pointed the finger at the building’s property manager, who he said had failed to act on complaints by tenants and assessments by engineers.

But counsel assisting the commission panel, Stephen Mills QC, told the hearing the building had serious problems which were known by the designers in 1990, five years after its construction.

This had required retrofitting of drag bars to fix poor connections of the north diaphragm to the shear core diaphragm.

None of the parties who knew of the problems had told the regulatory authority, the city council.

“However, the principal and critical failings occurred during the structural design work carried out by Dr Alan Reay’s firm. For this both David Harding and Dr Alan Reay must carry the responsibility,” Mr Mills had concluded.

 “It was Dr Reay’s decision to give Mr David Harding the virtually sole responsibility for carrying out the structural design for the CTV Building, in circumstances where he was on any objective view not competent to do this.

“Dr Reay then made a deliberate decision to provide no active supervision or mentoring for Mr Harding in the work he was doing and, in his own words, to leave it to Mr Harding to tell Dr Reay if and when he required assistance.

“Mr Harding did not comply with the IPENZ (Institution of Professional Engineers New Zealand) code of ethics in acting outside his area of competence,” Mr Mills said. 

c.hutch@clear.net.nz

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