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Update on Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Christchurch

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Voxy Newswire
Voxy Newswire
Update on Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Christchurch

Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Christchurch

Update on main dome – June 17, 2011

Report from Lance Ryan, chairman of the Cathedral Management Board

Additional damage caused by the June 13 earthquakes has heightened safety issues concerning the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament. Because of this we have had to change strategies on how to remove the main dome. The additional damage has also meant we will probably have no choice but to demolish the rear portion of the building.

Until the earthquakes on Monday, the plan had been to remove the dome in one piece, but further damage to areas supporting the dome have further weakened the building’s integrity.

We will now remove the dome and the supporting structure to window ledge level piece-by-piece. This will take slightly longer, but is much more manageable from a safety perspective. We expect to start this work on Monday June 20 and it should take approximately six weeks, weather and further aftershocks permitting to remove the top portion of the dome structure.

It is a shame we have had to change strategies as we only had two more weeks of preparation before we could have lifted the dome off.

However, the safety of contractors working on the basilica is of utmost importance and has been the biggest factor in this decision.

Staff from Opus and Naylor Love met with Warwick Isaacs and Baden Ewart, from CERA, this morning to discuss the project.

Once the dome has been removed it is possible that the concrete ring beam immediately below the dome can be removed in one piece or in pieces and the columns between the windows also removed. We are yet to finalise strategies for this work.

While this work is being undertaken, we will begin planning for the demolition of the rear portion of the building, which will be carried out under supervision of Opus heritage staff and engineers.

The south transept has moved further in recent aftershocks and Opus engineers are assessing the need to provide propping in a similar manner to that adopted for the north bell tower where several shipping containers have been placed against the tower to prevent it from collapsing further in an aftershock. 

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