Historic façade saved
Most of the classical detailing of the McKenzie and Willis building facade at the corner of High and Tuam Sts is being restored and preserved, even although the remainder of the badly damaged building will have to be demolished.
Tim Willis of the well-known Christchurch furniture store said after the September 4, 2010 earthquake the Domo section of the façade on Tuam St was badly damaged.
"Leighs Construction came in and secured it, and in the meantime it was vacated because it wasn't safe - then February 22 came along and we lost it completely, leaving us with only the corner façade to save."
Part of a unique cluster of late Victorian and Edwardian buildings making up an interesting streetscape, the McKenzie and Willis building has been a Christchurch landmark for a century.
Fraser Hepburn, project manager, says the current project involves deconstructing a small portion of the early 1900s Tuam St façade because it is unsafe, propping the remainder, demolishing the building behind it, and then strengthening and re-assembling the façade.
"The safety factor is the main issue. Steel structural frames will be installed, and concrete cantilevered blocks to hold the remainder of the façade in place. We hope to be finished this work before the Christmas break."
Tim Willis says the planning and timing of the rebuild of the McKenzie and Willis store on the site is still undetermined but he believes it will be even better than the original.
"For a start, the façade surrounding the new building will be a lot cleaner - the sandstone had got a bit dirty over the last 100 years."
He hoped that the new buildings would be completed by mid-2013.