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Sky City's convention centre grows apace

Christine Nikiel

Friday 7th November 2003

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Fletcher Construction project manager Alan Gray is restrained in his description of working on Auckland's biggest private building project.

"It's been quite difficult," he said. "Quite challenging."

Quite indeed. The $135 million convention centre, which had its roof topping ceremony last week, is second only to the building of Te Papa museum on Gray's list of difficult projects throughout his 35-year career with Fletchers.

"Some of my guys, who have been working with me [for Fletcher] for 30-odd years, say this building is one of our greatest challenges. But we knew it would be, from day one," Gray said.

The rooms were designed to seat 1500 people and required large uninterrupted spaces, meaning no columns blocking the view.

But "remarkable engineering" from Beca allowed the plan to work out, Gray said.

To enable such large, open spaces, 22-ton roof trusses support the roof and several floors below it. Huge concrete "share" walls support the weight.

About 250 Fletcher builders have worked on the project since last October. But the work is not over yet.

Fletchers still has to build a 316-room 15-level Sky City Grand Hotel for the top of the convention centre.

The $75 million hotel will be linked by two air bridges to the Sky City Casino opposite. The hotel is scheduled to open in 2005 and the convention centre in April next year.

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