Cutting Edge Facility Aligns with Innovative Tenant’s Values
Three years after Trimble Navigation’s earthquake-damaged New Zealand base was destroyed by fire, the multinational firm moved into high-tech Birmingham Drive premises which aligns directly with the cutting-edge innovative solutions developed by the company itself.
Now, one year on, Canterbury Build magazine looks at the scale of the design and the use of the latest quake-safe technology which make the Opus NZ-designed Trimble building one of the first of its kind in Australasia.
In 2012, Trimble Navigation’s new $18 million building received a Highly Commended award at the NZ Wood Awards, before receiving the ‘Commendation Award for Commercial or Retail Structures’ in the prestigious global IStructE Structural Design Awards in late 2014.
Designed by Opus, utilizing technology developed by University of Canterbury researchers, it’s innovative, cutting-edge and, most importantly, resilient. Yes, everything we need in post-quake Christchurch.
The Opus design set out to deliver on key drivers of sustainability, resilient seismic performance, innovation, flexibility, and economy desired by building owner Birmingham Properties and tenants Trimble Navigation.
The final form realizes these loft objectives, delivering a structural system that sets the benchmark for rebuilding Christchurch using sustainable timber products to achieve a high-performing but affordable, earthquake-resilient building stock.
IStructE judges were impressed by the quality of innovative and unobtrusive detailing, combined with an approach that allows easy replacement of deformed energy dissipation elements and a rapid post-earthquake return to functionality, describing the building as one which “…pushes the boundaries of earthquake-resilient timber design and continues the research into performance-based solutions that are both sustainable and economic.”
Officially opened in April 2014, the Trimble building is the first commercial building in New Zealand to use both post-tensioned LVL frames and walls with energy-dissipating devices for the lateral load resisting system.
With more than 6000 square meters of office space spread across two levels, the Trimble building is also the largest pre-stressed laminated timber (pres-lam) building ever constructed in terms of floor area.
Increased public awareness of safety and the benefits of timber as a structural material following the Christchurch earthquakes have provided a platform for the use of this new technology, and its use continues to increase.
Trimble wanted to avoid seismic risk in their new building. Opus rose to the challenge by proposing a high-performing seismic system incorporating high grade LVL fabricated in New Zealand from locally grown and sustainably harvested timber, which resonated with both Trimble and the building owner.
As a result, the building utilizes laminated veneer lumber (LVL) pre-lam frames in one direction and pres-lam walls in the other to resist seismic loads. Pre-lam systems utilize large sections of prefabricated LVL to construct structural frames or walls, which are connected together on-site by steel post-tensioning, often with the inclusion of mild steel energy dissipators at the member joints.
The walls and frames ‘rock’ in a large earthquake and, as the joints open, energy is stored in the post-tensioning, to be absorbed by mild steel dissipators that cross the joint. This system provides high levels of hysteric damping, and once the shaking stops, the energy stored in post-tensioning returns the building to a vertical position with negligible damage to the structure.
Trimble’s new offices embody many unique features that capture the latest thinking in performance-based building design and low-damage seismic engineering.
“The design steps beyond traditional thinking of how to design a building that just protects the occupants, to one that also allows for early re-occupation – essential for us as a tenant,” Trimble’s managing director Corinne Haines explains.
The synergy in deploying technology through innovation has developed beyond the core structural system, with Trimble and Opus collaborating to develop and install a building monitoring system. This system will enable informed decisions on occupancy immediately after a significant earthquake, the replacement of the energy-absorbing elements within the structure and ongoing monitoring of key elements of the structure.
Architectural design firm Creative Spaces ensured the innovation behind Trimble itself was reflected in the internal fitout, interior design associate Drew Blair explains. “Trimble is an innovative technology company, so they wanted a fitout with a high level of design innovation, with the flexibility to meet their staffing needs,” Drew says.
“The IstructE design awards are prestigious global awards. Two New Zealand projects were recognized in 2014 and this is a real showcase of just what we are capable of doing in little old New Zealand.”
“As one of Trimble’s R&D sites, the Christchurch facility is staffed with teams of engineers. When these teams complete a project, they need to be reassembled accordingly for the next project, and the interior layout needed to be flexible to accommodate this.”
Further aligning Trimble’s role in developing GPS positioning technology with its new building, Creative Spaces has developed a flooring design featuring the actual compass bearings, while walls and columns display the GPS co-ordinates, mapped accurately by Trimble staff using the company’s own technology.
As a multinational firm, the ability to communicate with offshore sites is integral, and both video and audio conferencing facilities have been integrated into the interior fitout, with the colour scheme designed to reflect the local Canterbury environment.
The innovative structural form reflects Trimble’s innovative technical business solutions, and managing director Corinne Haines says the company is extremely pleased with the building she described as “…a resilient structure that is designed to offer superior structural performance in the event of both earthquakes and fires.”
“We have a building that is light, bright, quiet, offers good collaborative spaces, energy efficiency and with state-of-the-art mechanical services, all of which are consistent with our company values of innovation, productivity, sustainability, and responsible corporate citizenship.”
The recognition of Trimble Navigation’s new building on a global stage is a great feat for structural engineering in New Zealand, Opus International Consultants technical principal Andrew Brown explains. “The IStructE design awards are prestigious global awards,” he says.
“When you consider the caliber of projects we were up against from international design agencies in the likes of the UK, Brazil and Spain, the commendation award we received not only represents a proud moment for Opus, but also a proud moment for the New Zealand engineering community as a whole.
“Two New Zealand projects were recognized in 2014 and this is a real showcase of just what we are capable of doing in New Zealand.”
Solutions for Safe Structures
Monitoring provides the information needed to support a safe living and working environment by continuously verifying the ability of buildings to perform their intended function.
Monitoring installations are crucial Mfor buildings which are subject to seismic activity, ground movement, extreme weather conditions and construction activities.
It is important to detect movements, vibrations, structural changes and responses of buildings to these local conditions inorder to identify potential failure modes.
The integrity and stability of a building after a significant event may be rapidly determined using the data captured by the monitoring system.
The data is processed using advanced, state-of-the-art algorithms and presented in a powerful, yet user friendly Web Interface. It provides a variety of visualization and analysis tools to identify potential failure scenarios immediately after significant events providing intuitive data to guide building occupancy decisions.
Trimble’s building monitoring solution is designed specifically for the seismic, structural, modal, survey, geotechnical or engineering monitoring analyst. It comprises highly precise sensors together with powerful processing and engaging visual representation of data.
Trimble® 4D Control™ software is the key element of the Trimble Building Monitoring Solution. The modular design facilitates an industry specific solution capturing data from GNSS, optical, geotechnical, seismic, metrological and engineering sensors.
Intricate data from multiple sensor types is converted into meaningful information from which informed decisions about building occupancy and asset management can be made with confidence.