Saturday, March 15

Hotel de Wheels

Everyone raves about the Museum Art Hotel in Wellington.  The hotel had a great room rate on offer last week so I decided to try it for myself.  The fish sculpture you can see above greeted me every morning as I waited for an elevator.  However, the most interesting exhibit in the lift lobby was a display case capturing the story of the building's relocation several years earlier.

The building once sat on the edge of Wellington harbour.  In 1993 the 3,500 tonne reinforced concrete structure was moved 180 metres along the waterfront and then back across a major road to its current location  It was relocated to make way for the new Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa.  The entire feat was achieved by carefully cut its foundation piers, then lifting the  building onto giant rail trolleys which were then pushed delicately along temporary rail tracks by enormous ram jacks.

Here's how summed up the relocation on its 20th anniversary last year:
  • 3000-tonne, four-storey building - the largest ever shifted in New Zealand.
  • $2.4 million cost ($3.7m in today's dollars).
  • 3 months of preparation for a 3-day move, in two stages
  • 120-metre shift - 80m east along Cable St (August 14-15, 1993), a 90-degree rotation and 40m south across Cable St (August 21).
  • 5-10 metres an hour - the average speed of the building when moved
  • 3 kilometres of rail line on 8 tracks.
  • 96 "bogie" rail trolleys pushed by 8 hydraulic rams.
  • 120 tonnes of push needed to move the building.
  • 48-hour closure of Cable St for final track-laying and relocation.
  • 1000-strong crowds watching the various stages of the move

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