Working, shopping, eating and drinking -  life has certainly become more glamorous since the completion of the $1 billion Commercial Bay development last year.

Commercial Bay is now a destination of international standards, and when our borders open again, it will be there to welcome global travellers. In the meantime, Kiwis are free to enjoy the luxury of this vibrant area, from prestige sailing events (go Team NZ!) to the best eateries, watering holes and retail experiences on offer.

Almost a decade in the making, there were many contributors to this new Auckland destination.

Commercial Bay’s Interior Design and Construction Team

The Commercial Bay development was commissioned back in 2013 by owners Precinct Properties. Kiwi architects, Warren and Mahoney led the architectural design and Fletcher Construction were engaged to manage the construction, which began in 2016.

Fletcher Construction selected Apex Interiors for the supply and installation of all suspended ceilings in the tower – some 30,000m2 in total. Brevity was delighted to once again partner with Apex to provide the engineering solutions for the seismic restraint of all ceiling elements, with our friends at TRACKLOK® chosen to supply bracing.

It started off as an ordinary day

Commercail Bay Tracklok

The project started as a standard engagement. Brevity and Apex worked together to design, rationalise and optimise the base build ceiling design. Then came the curveball, the realisation that the choice of heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC system) was going to cause an issue.

Chilled beams, essentially large heavy beams running hot or cold water for temperature control, had been chosen. Whilst highly effective, chilled beams are also very heavy. To comply with the building standards, the chilled beams needed to be independently restrained. This meant a 50mm clearance would be required between each of the restrained elements, resulting in a gap around each beam, ruining the aesthetic and having significant cost implications.

This was not an option. The project had hit a brick wall.

Brevity, Apex and TRACKLOK® put their heads together to design a solution. The proposal? To integrate the bracing of the chilled beam units with the bracing of the ceiling. By sharing the same brace there would be no need for separation.

However, an idea is one thing but an approved workable plan is another. And so began a collaborative design period where Apex, Brevity and TRACKLOK® worked together to create the initial concept and the componentry required to bring this idea to life. Keeping a tight eye on cost implications, the standard brace components were used and an attachment was designed to work with it.

Brevity completed design work for each of the brace components, including the finite element analysis for each design, and this was wrapped up together as a design concept. The concept and the calculations were solid, but the question remained, would it work with the chilled beam system?

Off to Sweden!

The design concept was then sent to the manufacturer of the chilled beams in Sweden. The chilled beams were to form part of the solution because they would share a brace with the ceiling. This combined brace would be subjected to certain loads under a seismic event which the chilled beam would be required to withstand.

Drawings and calculations are important, but there is no substitute for real life testing. The manufacturers undertook actual physical testing to verify the pull-out strength of the componentry used and as a result the number of rivets in base plates needed to be increased. The manufacturers were able to make subtle adjustments to their manufacturing as it was still in the design phase, to provide the required strength for the units.

The next step was to rationalise the final design to ensure it could work from a seismic performance perspective and be manufactured at a viable price point. Once this was determined, the concept of using ceiling braces for both ceiling and chilled beams was put forward for approval and accepted by the client.

TRACKLOK® were able to then progress with the manufacture of componentry. TRACKLOK® worked with Apex to determine a schedule for supplying pre-made kits for installers to ensure the installation progressed smoothly once it started.

Construction Monitoring - creating a library and saving on cost

Brevity was responsible for undertaking the construction monitoring of the ceiling installations throughout the project. As so often happens, there is a gap between the plan and the execution in construction. When the construction is a 30 level high rise building, there was plenty of opportunity for service clashes and variations. This led to the need for plenty of custom solutions to be created on a case-by-case basis.

It was an added cost designing, testing and validating each individual variation along the way, so a library was developed to re-use any work completed. All variations became part of the standard design document so when a clash was encountered, the Apex team could consult the library and find a solution. The library provided significant savings for both time and money.

This project was definitely a case of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. The Commercial Bay project was full of complexity, and required novel approaches. Having specialists from three disciplines jointly producing a tailored solution was only a possibility because all three groups were happy to work as one. The solution worked because of the personal relationships and trust that had been developed over time, the culture of collaboration between the three companies and a shared single objective. What a great template for our industry!