Award to stadium; judges wax lyrical

Forsyth Barr Stadium was a ''magnificent tour de force'', judges said at the annual New Zealand Commercial Project Awards before crowning it supreme winner.

''We often refer to this as our Everest. It was almost insurmountable,'' project director Andrew Holmes, of Hawkins Construction South Island Ltd, said about the project.

Forty of the country's leading commercial buildings were vying for the major prizes at the annual awards ceremony held in Auckland on Saturday night, with the stadium winning the industrial category, for projects over $15 million.

Judges said the stadium was ''a project of firsts, and a credit to all involved'', before awarding it the supreme award.

''From the unique snow melt valves in the translucent ETFE plastic roof to the indoor natural grass pitch, the Forsyth Barr Stadium impressed us with the sheer volume of man-hours (1,370,000), meticulous planning and creative approach that saw the team continually searching for ways to `do it smarter','' the judges said.

Mr Holmes, of Dunedin, said it was humbling to be recognised for a project that presented many challenges, including the size of the facility, ground conditions, time constraints and ''the immense pressure on the budget''.

He acknowledged public debate about the merits of the stadium, with the company hosting open days to showcase the work involved.

''At the end of the day it is technically advanced. This is a world-leading facility.

''Try and find another stadium in the world for $220-odd million dollars, a covered roof and natural grass ... Well, you won't find one.

''It is irreplaceable at that value. You simply couldn't do it today.''

Dunedin Venues chief executive Darren Burden said: ''This award is well-deserved recognition of the construction team and those innovations they brought to life.''

Another Otago category winner was Rippon Hall, at Rippon Vineyard, Wanaka (Amalgamated Builders), which scooped the Tourism and Leisure award for a project between $2 million and $5 million catagories.

Pitches Store, in Ophir (Amalgamated Builders) was awarded a gold citation.

-hamish.mcneilly@odt.co.nz

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