2020 ACE Award winners

The 2020 ACE Awards recipients are:  

  1. LeoLabs Kiwi Space Radar Structure - Ruamoko Solutions - Gold 
  2. Nelson Airport Terminal - Dunning Thornton - Gold
  3. Waimakariri River Flood Protection - Good Earth Matters & Environment Canterbury - Gold
  4. Christchurch Town Hall - Holmes Consulting & Tonkin + Taylor - Silver 
  5. Dudley Creek Flood Remediation - Beca & WSP - Silver 
  6. Waikato Expressway Huntly Section - Jacobs & WSP - Silver
  7. Access for Everyone - MRCagney - Silver 
  8. Bunnythorpe to Haywards Reconductoring Project - Beca - Silver 
  9. Franklin Road Upgrade - Stantec - Silver 
  10. Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub - AECOM - Silver 
  11. Auckland Transport Road Safety Programme Business Case - WSP - Merit 
  12. Taipā Bridge - Aurecon - Merit 
  13. PFAS Investigation Programme - Pattle Delamore Partners - Merit 
  14. Squeezing Time - an elegant geotechnical solution - Riley Consultants - Merit 
  15. Edendale Realignment - WSP - Merit 
  16. Auckland Harbour Bridge Lighting Replacement - Auckland System Management Alliance (Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, WSP, SRG Global, Beca, Fulton Hogan, and HEB Construction) - Merit 
  17. Avon River Precinct Stormwater Design - Jacobs - Merit 
  18. Visual Property Assessment Tool - from streets to Street View - Stantec - Merit 
  19. Access for Everyone - Sustainability Award 
  20. Nelson Airport Terminal - Sustainability Award 
  21. Environment Canterbury Regional Council - Client Award 
  22. Transpower - Client Award 
  23. Simon Fenton of WSP - Emerging Leader winner 
  24. Amy Patterson-Horner of GHD - Emerging Leader finalist 
  25. Kezia Lloyd of WSP - Emerging Leader finalist 
  26. Alice Ying - Student Award winner 
  27. Devina Shedde - Student Award winner 
  28. Githmi Amarasekera - Student Award winner 
  29. Susan Freeman-Greene - President's Award 
  30. Win Clark - Honorary Life Member Award 
  31. Mike Kerr - Honorary Life Member Award 

Gold Award winners 

There were three winners of the ACE Awards gold award:  

LeoLabs Kiwi Space Radar Structure - LeoLabs 

Project name: LeoLabs Kiwi Space Radar Structure
Consultant: Ruamako Solutions
Client: LeoLabs Inc

A LeoLabs Kiwi Space radar

The LeoLabs Kiwi Space radar array in Naseby, Central Otago is the first of its kind in the world. It'll become part of a global network of phased-array radars that enable the collection of high-resolution data from tracking thousands of objects in lower earth orbit. Some of the objects have a diameter of just 20mm. 

The radar array searches an area between 200km and 2,000km above the earth's surface for debris including derelict satellites, spent rocket stages and unspent particles from solid rocket motors. 

The threats posed to a viable LEO economy and a sustainable space environment escalate with every rocket launch. LeoLabs aims to build a global space radar network at a pace to match that threat. 

The project is a massive addition to the rapidly growing New Zealand space sector, which helps generate approximately $1.8 billion NZD of revenue each year. 

LeoLabs engaged Ruamoko Solutions as its primary consulting engineering firm on the project. The project began with the initial design sketches and ideas, while Ruamoko developed an understanding of the detailed requirements of the project, which were unique and challenging. 

As a "first of its kind", there were no standard solutions, so the project required an innovative, client-focused attitude. The design team defined the initial scope of the project by working with the US-based client to educate them on the local design processes while gaining an understanding of their performance needs around wind conditions, snow, seismic events and the selection of materials appropriate to the design. 

The engineering challenges included minimising radar shadowing while ensuring the structure had exceptionally low operational movement under wind, snow, seismic and thermal stresses. The construction tolerances were exact; the structure was located at a highly contaminated remote location, and the components were sourced from different countries. 

The judges commented that LeoLabs new radar structure might look relatively simple at first glance. Still, every element down to the last screw and washer had to be considered in detail to determine its impact on the performance of the installation. Ruamoko listened, worked out the loading scenarios and exceedances, and provided an extraordinary level of detail on costs and engineering options. The work was completed to such a high standard that LeoLabs has committed to contracting Ruamoko for the design of their new radar projects around the world. 

The client was extremely impressed with Ruamoko's ability to understand the nuances of the structure and come up with a design that met the functional requirements and structural challenges it presented. They were able to foresee issues like construction in a remote region of Central Otago and come up with engineering solutions to ensure the project was completed successfully. 

Nelson Airport Terminal - Dunning Thornton Consultants

Project name: Nelson Airport Terminal
Consultant: Dunning Thornton Consultants
Client: Nelson Airport Limited

Inside the new Nelson Airport Terminal

Nelson Airport Limited wanted a new terminal building that had a visual and spatial impact, without compromising future-flexibility. Dunning Thornton Consultants was contracted to provide the structural engineering design and coordination for the building. 

The new terminal features a long-span, folded-plate timber roof that has few supporting columns down its 105-metre length of the building. The development of the roof involved the complex analysis and design of a folded plate LVL structure with modular detailing.  

Timber features extensively throughout the building, which was vital for the project as the Nelson region has a strong forestry industry, and using local materials was essential to the client. It allowed the design team to make a financial investment in the local industry and benefited the environment by reducing the transportation of materials from outside the region. 

The modular detailing of the roof structure streamlined the construction and large-scale future expansion in the same form to increase the floor area of the terminal. The internal configuration of retail and public spaces in airports frequently change requiring smaller-scale future-proofing to be considered in the design. The structural innovation resulted in a roof form where the whole timber structure was exposed in the finished building.  

The judges commented that the dominant feature of this visually stunning building is the long span timber roof with 18 metres between the columns. Careful configuration and detailing of the building structure allows expansive views to the outside. A parametric modelling study looked at optimising the roof geometry, ensuring the wooden beams were kept as small as possible.   

Low damage design principles were used in the structural design to provide resilience and robustness, business continuity, and a reduced likelihood of demolition being required after a larger than SLS event. It included the ground floor being suspended on piled foundations due to the risk of early on-set liquefaction and elaborate deflection head detailing at the tops of walls to allow the roof to move up and down in a strong wind without damaging the walls and finishes.  

The building also incorporated the first commercial use of Tectonus Limited's energy dissipation system which was developed at the University of Auckland. It involves the new Resilient Slip Friction Joint technology that provides both damping and re-centring of the internal columns. The use of this technology helps achieve low damage in the event of an earthquake.   

Nelson Airport Limited says Dunning Thornton's performance is an example of how a talented and committed team can define, design and deliver a highly challenging brief into a genuinely unique solution. The new building meets both the operational and aesthetic challenges presented by a busy airport terminal. The result is one that the client and the Nelson Tasman region will cherish for years to come.   

Waimakariri Flood Protection Project - Good Earth Matters

Project: Waimakariri Flood Protection Project
Consultant: Good Earth Matters Consulting Ltd
Client: Environment Canterbury Regional Council

Waimakariri Flood Protection

The Waimakariri Flood Protection Project began 15 years ago when it was identified that the risk to Christchurch from a significant flood event in the Waimakariri River had the potential to cause more than $8 billion worth of damage to the city and parts of the Selwyn and Waimakariri Districts. 

Good Earth Matters was engaged by Environment Canterbury to develop operational, management and health and safety plans, manage disposal areashaul roads and sediment as well as transition the site from an extraction-and-discard operation to a fully Worksafe-compliant operation. 

As well as this, they managed all contracts and the development of key contractor-operator expertise enabling them to achieve the outcomes sought by the client within a traditional NZS 3910 Conditions of Contract framework. 

As part of the ten-year project, a second level of protection was wrapped around the existing primary stopbank system to enhance the resilience of the flood protection system and reduce any risk. A total of 35 kilometres of primary stopbanks and 25 kilometres of new secondary stopbanks involving the extraction and placement of more than 800,000 m3 of river gravels and 260,000 tonnes of rock armour protection was completed.  

The Waimakariri Flood Protection Project was awarded gold at the 2020 ACE Awards because of the strong working relationship which developed between Environment Canterbury and Good Earth Matters.  

The project was completed under budget and well inside the expected end date. The stakeholder engagement strategy implemented by Good Earth Matters was instrumental in developing a considerable amount of community goodwill. 

Good Earth Matters delivered a ten year, $40m project one year ahead of programme, within budget, and without any environmental and health and safety breaches, or public complaints. The successful outcome of this project was the result of sustained and consistent consultant performance. 

Silver Award winners

There were seven winners of the ACE Silver Awards for 2020: 

Access for Everyone - MRCagney

Project: Access for Everyone
Consultant: MRCagney
Client: Auckland Council

Auckland CBD

Access for Everyone is a new strategy trialled in Auckland's city centre designed to create a better experience for all modes of transport. It looks at quashing the car-first policies that have been a part of Auckland since the '60s. 

A first for New Zealandthe project looks at reorganising traffic accessing the city centre to prioritise pedestrians and public transport. 

MRCagney was engaged by Auckland Council to develop the strategy, and the project was awarded silver at the 2020 ACE Awards for the innovation and informed expertise in transportation and urban design. 

A trial of the concept in Auckland's High Street saw on-street parking replaced with temporary kerb extensions creating more space for pedestrians. 

The strategy is expected to lead to significant environmental and economic benefits for the city, improved air quality, reduced travel times, lower emissions, and more space for people. 

The ACE Awards judges commented that the strategy organises the city centre into eleven low-traffic neighbourhoods, including a pedestrian-priority zone across the Queen Street valley. High Street is a tricky site, and MRCagney had to develop suitable solutions that benefitted the street's retailers. 

Access for Everyone demonstrates a highly innovative approach to central city transport planning and urban design and offers Auckland's central city a progressive and sustainable future. 

Bunnythorpe to Haywards Reconductoring Project - Beca

Project: Bunnythorpe to Haywards Reconductoring Project
Consultant: Beca
Client: Transpower


Beca and Transpower worked together to replace two 120km-long, 220kV transmission lines as part of the Bunnythorpe to Haywards Reconductoring Project. 

From concept study and conductor selection, through to detailed design, and construction support, Beca delivered two significant innovations: 

  • The installation and trial of three types of new high-tension, low-sag conductors. If these perform as expected, they have the potential to assist Transpower in solving increasing demands on its high voltage network in an ever-more constrained operating environment 

  • The implementation of a Catenary Support System. The system allowed reconductoring over densely populated areas including housing, state highways and live electrified railway with no interruption to operation or incidents, for the first time in Aotearoa 

The team was required to work collaboratively with landowners and stakeholders throughout the project. At the same time, the construction methodology will enhance the security and resilience of New Zealand's power supply in the years to come. 

The ACE Award judges commented that this was a challenging project that stretched over a long time and concluded with a delighted client. To have a project of this scale, complexity and importance delivered without operational outages or safety incidents is testament to a consistent consulting performance by the team from Beca.  

The client says the design team was willing to tackle anything and was able to call on extensive depth from their other disciplines. They placed an engineer full time in the field, and this led to greater efficiency and enabled problem-solving in real-time. The team adopted the project as their own and displayed commitment throughout the extended timeframe.  

This project was delivered safely, efficiently and to program, and incorporated valuable tools that may prove crucial to the future of the National Grid. 

Christchurch Town Hall - Tonkin + Taylor and Holmes Consulting 

Project: Christchurch Town Hall
Consultants: Tonkin + Taylor and Holmes Consulting
Client: Christchurch City Council

Christchurch Town Hall Douglas Lilburn Auditorium

The 2010 and 2011 Canterbury earthquakes caused significant liquefaction and lateral spreading to the land beneath the Christchurch Town Hall, which resulted in subsidence and damage to the superstructure. 

Christchurch City Council embarked on a $167M+ conservation project that included novel ground improvement, a new raft foundation, re-levelling and strengthening of the superstructure, and refurbishment of the interior. The restoration project would ensure that the building became a focal point of the Performing Arts Precinct. 

The Town Hall is listed by the New Zealand Historic Places Trust as a Category One building and has been acclaimed worldwide for its architecture and acoustics. 

Holmes Consulting was engaged to produce two main streams of work. The first was a full damage assessment of the complex to understand how much damage had occurred during the earthquakes. It enabled estimates for the repair of the damage to the structural and building fabric. 

The second stream of work was to develop seismic strengthening concepts which would lift the seismic capacity and resilience of the complex. Essential to the improved resilience and strengthening was a scheme of cellular ground improvement created through subterranean jet grouting, developed and designed by Tonkin + Taylor. 

The judges commented that this was an impressive project with a significant budget that required both high levels of technical expertise and outstanding consulting practice from the consultants. 

The Mayor of Christchurch Lianne Dalziel says both Holmes Consulting and Tonkin + Taylor were able to provide the council with exact information (in plain language) about the nature of the challenges that were faced during the restoration project. 

Maintaining the original character and style of the building with its white marble, dark timber, rich red fabrics and vibrant artworks has resulted in a tangible link to pre-quake Christchurch. 

Dudley Creek Flood Remediation - Beca and WSP 

Project: Dudley Creek Flood Remediation
Consultants: Beca and WSP
Client: Christchurch City Council

Dudley Creek

This remediation project involved the design, consenting and construction of waterway works and a new bypass pipeline to restore the pre-earthquake flood risk to the Flockton Street area of Christchurch. 

Beca and WSP were engaged to undertake the development of options, design, consenting and to manage the construction work packages. 

The project would reduce the flood risk in the area post-earthquake while enhancing the ecology and in-stream habitat. 

The consultants were required to overcome complex technical challenges that required a balance between hydraulic efficiency and landscapes, geotechnical stability and settlement, durability and resilience. 

The ACE Awards judges commented that a concept design had already been completed for this project before Beca and WSP were involved. However, they were able to develop an alternative concept that proved to have several advantages over the original design. The project was completed within a very tight timeframe, and the client was glowing in their praise for the design team. 

The client says this was an extremely challenging, fast-tracked project and the consultants were fully engaged in achieving the outcomes required by the council for the community. They remained outcome-focused throughout, resolving numerous problems while staying on programme and budget, but still achieving against the council's six values: drainage, ecology, landscape, recreation, heritage and culture. 

The project has been successful in achieving flood risk reduction, created a sustainable community asset and enhanced the landscape, ecological and recreation values within the waterway corridor. 

Franklin Road Upgrade - Stantec

Project: Franklin Road Upgrade
Company: Stantec
Client: Auckland Transport

Artist's impression Franklin Road

Franklin Road is one of Auckland's most well-known streets - a wide 800m long, tree-lined boulevard which transports approximately 14,000 vehicles per day between the Auckland city centre and Ponsonby. 

It's also an arterial route, bus route, and part of the Auckland Cycling Network. These competing aspects, in combination with its historically significant 120-year-old London Plane trees and high-profile Christmas lights displays, combined to create an incredibly challenging environment for an upgrade. 

The $20m project required Stantec to 'maintain the existing character of Franklin Road while improving road corridor facilities, drainage, street lighting and protecting the trees'. Essentially, a renewal to address years of deferred maintenance but retaining the 'link' arterial function of the corridor. 

The project created a new standard for urban design and shared space rehabilitation when undertaking a roading rehabilitation project. 

Auckland Transport says the complex nature of the project from design and challenging stakeholder expectations, required everyone in the project team to work collaboratively. Stantec understood the challenges and implemented the stakeholder feedback positively. 

Early stakeholder feedback identified that a non-traditional approach was needed. Residents had a firm desire to see the corridor future-proofed and modified to be a modern, multi-modal road with a greater sense of place. There was a real risk of significant stakeholder and political backlash in delivering a traditional 'like for like' renewal. 

The ACE Awards judges commented that the outcome of this project was outstanding when you take into account all the complicating factors. The consultation that led to the final design was exceptional and instrumental in delighting the community with the outcome. 

By developing innovative technical approaches, sympathetic design features, and higher amenity surface finishes, the project delivered a 'first' for Auckland. 

Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub - AECOM

Project: Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub
Consultant: AECOM
Client: Christchurch City Council

Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub

The Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub has become the new home for four of Canterbury's sports codes and has achieved its core principles of "hubbing" and collaboration. 

The 32-hectare facility includes two FIH pro-league standard hockey turfs, a class one athletics track, two state-of-the-art sand carpet rugby league turfs, and 12 ITF accredited tennis courts. 

AECOM provided both project and cost management services for the development. They took ownership of the delivery of the sports-hub and worked hand in glove with the client and the contractors to deliver the project more scope, on time and under budget. 

The Master Plan for the Ngā Puna Wai sports hub was costed at $106 million. Stage one has delivered more than three-quarters of the desired outcomes for only half the price. 

The ACE Awards judges commented that the client and the contractors were delighted with the consulting experience on this project. The sports facility was delivered within a tight time frame, and the whole AECOM team was committed to achieving an excellent outcome. AECOM explored working in partnership with other projects to combine earthworks which helped minimise costs. They also brought in experts to overcome a range of construction challenges and worked hard to overcome design and buildability problems in a way that was practical and pragmatic. 

The construction also took place during two of the wettest construction seasons which, added to the other issues, put the scope and budget under threat on day one. However, through exemplary costs control across the project and looking for solutions, they managed to keep to the original budget but deliver greater scope. 

The client was delighted with the consulting experience and the outcome of the project. AECOM was responsible for delivering the project on time and well within budget. The client and the contractors also mentioned the positive on-site working culture that was developed between AECOM, the Christchurch City Council and the contractors HEB and Hawkins. 

The Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub not only meets the needs of the community but also provides a stimulus for the economy, acts as an incentive to attract families to the Canterbury region and future-proofs the facilities to an international standard. 

Waikato Expressway Huntly Section

Project: Waikato Expressway Huntly Section
Consultants: WSP and Jacobs
Client: Waka Kotahi

Waikato Expressway Huntly Section

The Huntly section of the Waikato Expressway is a 15.5km four-lane expressway with nine bridges, two interchanges, and 41 culverts. 

Designers Jacobs and WSP worked for the constructors Fulton Hogan in a design-construct team, to build the expressway for Waka Kotahi. 

Extensive collaboration between the designers and the constructors led to a unique and innovative design approach to achieve critical outcomes. These included lengthening the river crossing bridges to provide environmental and cultural benefits by minimising the impact on the natural watercourses. The approach also reduced ground improvements and geotechnical risk at the abutments. The highly challenging site resulted in very deep fills, and the designers developed an innovative "induced trench" approach to allow more cost-effective stormwater culverts. 

The ACE Awards judges commented that both consultants allocated a strong leadership team to this project. This team remained on the project until its completion, bringing a consistently high-performance approach. 

Fulton Hogan noted the consultant's ability to achieve the finalised design within a challenging timeframe and get construction underway early, speaks to their technical and managerial skills. The consulting team was able to resolve unforeseen problems and approached the project with a high level of professional management. 

The project was built on a collaborative approach to environmental management plan preparation, extensive ecological enhancement and restoration and outstanding visual and landscape outcomes. There was robust input from Tangata Whenua and substantial carbon emissions savings. Waka Kotahi says the project has delivered a legacy that will be enjoyed by generations to come. 

Merit award winners 

There were eight winners of the ACE Merit Awards for 2020: 

Auckland Harbour Bridge Lighting Project

Project: Auckland Harbour Bridge Lighting Project
Consultants: Auckland System Management Alliance - Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency, WSP, SRG Global, Beca, Fulton Hogan, and HEB Construction 
Client: Waka Kotahi 

A significant upgrade of the lighting on Auckland's harbour bridge required the replacement of more than 140 outdated high-pressure sodium luminaires with low energy light-emitting diode luminaires along with the installation of 118 new light poles. 

The Auckland Harbour Bridge Alliance members used a multi-disciplinary approach to provide an innovative and efficient project, with WSP leading the lighting, structural, material and durability design. 

The team had to balance Waka Kotahi's aesthetic and heritage requirements with structural resilience that addressed bridge vibration caused by wind and traffic. The upgrade resulted in a base 52 per cent power saving along with reduced maintenance costs and environmental benefits. 

The ACE Awards judges commented that the design team undertook a significant analysis of the fatigue aspects of the project. They went further than many would have expected to ensure their analysis modelled the unique vertical oscillations of the 'clip-on' spans. The new base-bolted poles and the use of plain galvanised light poles rather than painted galvanised poles significantly lowered the future maintenance requirements of the infrastructure. 

The project delivered a reliable, resilient outcome for this critical lifeline for Auckland transport. It was delivered on time, within budget and exceeded not only Waka Kotahi's expectations but also those of the general public. 

Auckland Transport Road Safety Programme Business Case

Project: Auckland Transport Road Safety Programme Business Case
Consultant: WSP
Client: Auckland Transport

In 2017, over 800 people were killed or seriously injured on Auckland roads, an increase of 70% on the 2013 figure. 

An independent review found that Auckland road safety is in crisis. In response, WSP was contracted to develop a Programme Business Case that identified initiatives that would result in a 60 per cent reduction in the number of deaths and severe injuries by 2027. 

The team looked at complex problems from different angles, developed methodologies and identified options for wide-ranging levels and types of road safety interventions. The recommended option is expected to cost around $800 million and is forecast to prevent 1,750 deaths and serious injuries on Auckland roads over the next ten years. 

The ACE Awards judges commented that WSP effectively engaged with a wide range of stakeholders and decision-makers during the development of the programme. The project was well executed, and WSP exceeded the client's expectations on the delivery of the project. 

The Programme Business Case integrates world best practice that has been identified from work done in densely populated, transport conflicted cities. 

Avon River Precinct Stormwater Design 

Project: Avon River Precinct Stormwater Design
Consultant: Jacobs
Client: Downer and Ōtākaro 

The Avon River Precinct is a promenade along the Avon River in Christchurch'city centre. 

As the stormwater drainage design subcontractor for Downer, Jacobs provided drainage design services for four areas, covering eight city blocks in total. 

Jacobs provided the detailed design of the surface geometry, stormwater pipework, and sustainable urban drainage systems such as rain gardens and swales. These treat surface water run-off before discharge to the Avon River. The outcome was also instrumental in connecting the community with the river. 

The area now features shared spaces, paths, and gardens that make it easier for people to enjoy. 

The ACE Awards judges commented that this project provided a simple and elegant solution for the transformation of the Avon River precinct. From a user's perspective, the treatment works well with gentle falls and little maintenance is required. No flooding issues have occurred since the project was completed. 

The final design of the project has resulted in valuable cost savings for the city and is an anchor project for the Christchurch rebuild. 

Edendale Realignment

Project: Edendale Realignment
Consultant: WSP
Client: Waka Kotahi

The realignment of state highway one around the Edendale Township reduced travel times and increased road safety. 

Safety and efficiency of this stretch of road near Edendale were affected by its various speed limits, road geometry, railway crossings, layout and the increasing number of heavy vehicles. The realignment project means road users no longer have to travel through a combination of tight curves, intersections and rail crossings. Traffic now no longer travels near residential properties and Edendale Primary School. 

During the design phase of the project, Fonterra was involved to ensure there was a reduction in the conflict that arose from heavy vehicle movements around Edendale. 

The physical works were delivered four months ahead of schedule, and the project came in approximately six per cent under budget. 

The ACE Awards judges commented that this reconstruction project was well-delivered by WSP while extensive public consultation turned most of the community in favour of the outcome. WSP delicately balanced stakeholder and community expectations. 

PFAS Investigation Programme

Project: PFAS Investigation Programme
Consultant: Pattle Delamore
Client: NZDF

A 2015 investigation by PDP identified that groundwater and surface water at the Ohakea RNZAF Base (and, later, Woodbourne RNZAF Base) was contaminated with per-and poly-fluorinated substances (PFAS). 

These are human-made chemical contaminants that were commonly found in firefighting foams and potentially contributed to significant public health concerns. 

The nature of the contaminant along with the scale and urgency of the investigation meant that some standard contaminated site investigation procedures were not suitable in this case. 

The contamination issues had attracted a high public and media profile due to the potential health impacts of PFAS and PDP provided NZDF with comprehensive technical advice on the current and future potential impacts of PFAS. 

PDP developed a specialised sampling methodology; delivered training to all environmental consultants who were working on the project; planned and managed the PFAS investigations at several NZDF sites and several hundred private properties; identified appropriate guideline values; and completed detailed groundwater fate modelling. 

The judges commented that this was a large piece of work that extended over several years. The results of the work are now helping guide the NZDF's response to PFAS groundwater contamination. Local councils are also using the results to understand how the contaminant is moving through the groundwater. 

Squeezing time - An Elegant Geotechnical Solution 

Project: Squeezing Time - An Elegant Geotechnical Solution
Consultant: Riley Consultants
Client: Cappella Ltd/Kauri Landing Property Ltd

Stage One of the Kauri Landing development in Takanini, Auckland involved preparing the ground for 30 housing lots with associated roading and infrastructure for this 10,000m2 site. 

There were time pressures on the development of the subdivision, and the consultants designed a solution that would significantly shorten the time required for ground settlement to reach tolerable limits. 

Thirty-eight thousand cubic metres of peaty soil was imported to surcharge the site and reduce the settlement time frame from 180 to 40 days. The material was taken from a nearby project which saved approximately 6,000 truckloads of material being cut-to-waste. 

The judges commented that the relationship between the consultant, client and contractor was an outstanding feature of this project. A strong relationship was also developed with council during the consenting process. 

The sustainability aspects were enhanced through the reuse of the peaty soil at a later stage of the project. It resulted in a considerable reduction in the number of traffic movements on local roads. 

The project will accelerate a 280-lot Kiwibuild development, and the homes will be delivered in an environmentally, economically, and sustainable manner. 

Taipā Bridge

Project: Taipā Bridge
Consultant: Aurecon
Client: Fulton Hogan and Waka Kotahi 

The new 107m long Taipā Bridge opened in December 2019 and replaced an existing single-lane structure that carried traffic over the Oruru River on state highway 10. 

Aurecon and its sub-consultants provided design and construction phase services for the bridge which included civil, geotechnical, structural, hydraulic, environmental, landscaping and urban design. 

Project and community outcomes included the rejuvenation of the township with a gateway bridge structure and viewing platform, improved walking and cycling facilities and stormwater improvements at the Taipā Area School. 

In collaboration with hapū, Aurecon integrated the bridge form with urban design and landscaping treatments, which included the striking Waka Hourua design feature and viewing platform. 

The ACE Awards judges commented that the project delivered legacy items that were identified during the community consultation process. The community was initially sceptical about the value of a two-lane bridge as they felt it would increase traffic through the town. 

An effective community consultation strategy reassured the community that the new bridge design would have positive effects on the town centre. 3D visualisation was used during the project, which helped the community understand how the project would benefit the town. 

Visual Property Assessment Tool

Project: Visual Property Assessment Tool
Consultant: Stantec
Client: Wellington Water

Wellington Water required an efficient and repeatable solution that would allow them to collect floor level data from buildings in the Wellington region. The aim was to identify properties at risk of flooding and to identify priority areas for flood mitigation. 

Stantec designed and developed an innovative and interactive online tool to complete this task rather than using standard in-field data collection. Google street view was used to understand the flood risk. 

The tool enabled five analysts to gather information from almost 7,000 properties during a two-week period, which was a 250 per cent timesaving over the use of standard methodologies. The new tool also resulted in a 70% cost reduction per property. 

The judges commented that this is an example of a simple project done very well. Wellington Water benefitted immensely through a significant cost reduction and timesaving during data collection. Stantec employed good data management control, and their quality assurance programme contributed to the successful outcome of the project. 

Due to the outstanding success of this project, Stantec has been commissioned by Wellington Water to complete a similar study in Porirua City. 

Client Award

There were two winners of the ACE Client Award for 2020: 

Environment Canterbury Regional Council

Project name: Waimakariri Flood Protection Project 
Consultant: Good Earth Matters

The Waimakariri River is one of the largest rivers in Canterbury flowing for 151 kilometres from the Southern Alps across the Canterbury Plans to the Pacific Ocean. The river is prone to flooding threatening $8b worth of damage to the Canterbury region.  

The regional council, Environment Canterbury, established the Waimakariri Flood Protection Project 14 years ago to increase the level of protection from the river. The project saw 35 km of primary stopbanks and 25 km of secondary stopbanks installed, 800,000 m3 of river gravel and 260,000 tonnes of rock armour protection laid. 

Environment Canterbury is awarded the 2020 ACE Client Award for delivering a project of this scale. The understanding of the risks and uncertainties, outstanding leadership and commitment to the project is second to none. The project was delivered a year ahead of schedule, and under budget and involved 30 separate construction contracts. 

The council established an empowering framework for the project representative Principal Rivers Engineer, Ian Heslop, to deliver the project in collaboration with consultant, Good Earth Matters.  

With design and construction work commencing just before the Christchurch earthquakes, it's a credit to Environment Canterbury that they did not waver from their commitment to the project.  

Environment Canterbury is a knowledgeable, informed client who actively encouraged and sought advice from the consulting team as to how to deliver the outcomes.  

Three key project drivers:  

  1. Always deliver value for money

  2. Develop a pool of experienced contractors who could deliver the work

  3. Enhance Environment Canterbury's reputation

They embraced best-practice principles around management and allocation of risk, acted with fairness and transparency and were willing to be challenged as to what was best for the project. It empowered both the consulting team and the contractors to bring their best to the table in a constructive, collaborative, transparent manner.  

As a client, Environment Canterbury has understood, managed, and allocated risk in an open, consistent and transparent manner, embedded the consulting team as valued, trusted team members within their organisation, and have been outcome - as opposed to process - focused in areas such as procurement. 


Project: Bunnythorpe to Haywards Reconductoring Project
Consultant: Beca

Transpower was awarded the 2020 Client Award for their involvement in the Bunnythorpe to Haywards Reconductoring Project. 

Owner, operator and planner of the National Grid, Transpower manages the high-voltage electrical transmission system across the north and south islands connecting generation sources to local substations across New Zealand. 

As the client and asset owner, Transpower has extensive knowledge of every element of infrastructure that makes up their electrical transmission network. This intimate knowledge, combined with Transpower's role as an asset owner and operator, enabled them to bring significant expertise to the Bunnythorpe to Haywards Reconductoring Project. 

This expertise provided guidance and broader network operational considerations to the project, helping set the scene for Beca during the conceptual design phase. Transpower played the role of a full-service partner with Beca in the development of the design concepts. They ensured Beca had the freedom to explore alternative solutions which could enhance the project and deliver on their expectations. The partnership-approach allowed the team to explore a wide range of options that ensured the best solutions were identified for every aspect of the project. 

Transpower has developed a robust procurement policy for its projects and places a considerable amount of trust in their consultants. It ensures that a strong working relationship is created, which allows all parties to perform at an optimum level. 

Transpower maintains a high degree of transparency within their operation and, even though they have assembled a large amount of intellectual property relating to their projects, they operate in a way that allows the consultant to feel confident about bringing new thinking and improvements to the table. 

The Transpower engineering team is skilled in supplying their consultants with specific information on a project rather than simply dictating a solution. For the Bunnythorpe project, the consultants were empowered to develop the methodologies and deliver the outcomes. 

The culmination of this collective effort was a project delivered safely, efficiently and to program, along with the incorporation of valuable tools that may prove crucial to the future of the national grid. 

Sustainability Award

There were two winners of the ACE Sustainability Award for 2020: 

Nelson Airport Terminal

Project name: Nelson Airport Terminal
Consultant: Dunning Thornton Consultants
Client: Nelson Airport Limited

Dunning Thornton Consultants receive the 2020 Sustainability Award for their use of locally sustainable and renewable resources for the Nelson Airport Terminal. 

The design of the new airport terminal had to be future-focused, allowing for expansion when required, it had to accommodate the changing internal needs of an airport, and sustainability had to be a top priority. 

The pre-existing terminal was earthquake-prone so had to be replaced entirely. Structural concerns and site variations significantly influenced the implementation of any sustainability initiatives. 

Dunning Thornton's experience with timber products and an existing relationship with local fabricator Nelson Pine Industries resulted in an un-compromised timber structure. Locally grown radiata pine was used throughout the building, which met the aesthetic goals of the client while the tree sequesters carbon during its growth period, which helped offset the carbon emissions from other materials used. 

Studio Pacific Architecture explored preliminary carbon offset findings highlighting the use of engineered timber in the project. Timber is a net carbon sink, and the scale of the timber usage leads to the expectation that about 300 tonnes of CO2 equivalent have been embodied in the building, a significant saving compared with more traditional construction materials. 

Sustainability is not only about carbon emissions but also involves the future prosperity and advancement of the community. Consultation was undertaken with Nelson-based fabricators to establish their capabilities, which resulted in local manufacturers, carpenters and joiners being involved in the project. It helped reduce the environmental impact that may have resulted through the transportation of material from outside the region. 

Access for Everyone

Project: Access for Everyone 
Consultant: MRCagney 
Client: Auckland Council 

MRCagney and Auckland Council were awarded the 2020 Sustainability Award for their contribution to sustainability for their strategy Access for Everyone. 

It’s about delivering sustainable outcomes, not only in the traditional sense of reducing emissions and air pollution but also in future-focussed transport planning by shifting to low or zero-emission public transport and active travel options. 

There are immediate sustainable benefits but also long-term improvements on asset life, air pollution reductions, and improved quality of life, amenity and health for those who choose to live, work, and visit the central city.    

The council hadn’t updated their master plan for transport in the city centre since the sixties, and for many years, growth in the number of private vehicles that access the CBD every day has created significant problems, most notably traffic congestion and delays, with associated poor levels of amenity and road safety. 

The project focussed on reordering the priorities of the city’s streets, which would allow more people to move through the CBD and contribute to the government’s policy on carbon emission reduction.  

Access for Everyone became a council priority as they sought to ascertain how the CBD could be transformed to prioritise active travel modes (walking, cycling, scootering) and public transport to reduce the reliance on high-emissions transport while providing residents with a choice on how they access and make use of the area. 

MRCagney developed a trial of the concept in High Street with community feedback from the changes being overwhelmingly positive. 

The Access for Everyone project also aimed to create social and economic benefits for the CBD, enhancing the economic vibrancy of the area through the development of walkways and providing better access for pedestrians and cyclists. These enhancements will encourage locals and tourists to stay longer and spend more in the CBD. 

Along with short term sustainability benefits, the project aims to provide longer-term social, economic and health benefits for the people who work and live in the central city area of Auckland. 

Emerging Leader winner (sponsored by Tonkin + Taylor)

Simon Fenton of WSP

Simon Fenton

With 11 years' experience in civil engineering, structural engineering and project management gained in New Zealand, the Pacific Islands and the UK, Simon believes communication is the key to good leadership.   

Simon believes the other recipe to successful leadership is to lead by example, support people's development and give them opportunities as well as empower people and hold them accountable. 

Emerging Leader finalists: Kezia Lloyd of WSP and Amy Patterson-Horner of GHD.

Student Award winners (sponsored by AECOM)

There were three winners of the ACE New Zealand Student Award for 2020:

Alice Ying

Alice Ying

A love of Lego led Alice to study engineering, plus she enjoyed physics and chemistry in high school. Alice is currently completing her final year in Geotechnical Engineering and completed her work experience with ACE New Zealand member firms Aurecon and Beca.

Devina Shedde

Devina Shedde

Devina Shedde fell in love with art history and old monuments from a young age so much so that she studied engineering and art history at university. She completed her studies in 2019 and is currently working.  

Githmi Amarasekera

Githmi Amarasekera

A traveller at heart, Githmi completed her work experience with ACE New Zealand member WSP in Auckland and is in her final year of study.  

President's Award

Susan Freeman-Greene

Susan Freeman-Greene

Susan Freeman-Greene has been awarded the President's Award at the 2020 ACE Awards. 

Susan led Engineering New Zealand for five years and transformed it into a modern, vibrant and contemporary organisation that not only elevated the status of the sector in the eyes of stakeholders but also set us on the path to addressing long-standing challenges like creating a diverse and inclusive industry. 

Susan brought an open and collaborative approach for the betterment of all in the sector. 

The President's Award recognises outstanding service or special effort to ACE New Zealand and the engineering and consulting sector. The award winner is chosen by the current ACE New Zealand President. 

Honorary Life Member Awards

There were two recipients of the ACE New Zealand Honorary Life Member award for 2020:

Winston Clark

Win Clark

Win Clark has been awarded Life Membership at the 2020 ACE New Zealand ACE Awards for his long-standing commitment to the consulting and engineering industry and his contribution as an ACE Awards judge for 15 years. 

Win has worked as an engineering consultant on some of Aotearoa's notable projects including the Canterbury quakes. Win cut his teeth with the Ministry of Works and then spent the second half of his formal work years with Sinclair, Knight Mertz and its predecessor companies. 

Win is well known for his extensive understanding and particularly practical application of earthquake-resistant structural design philosophies. It has allowed him to incorporate into his designs a wide diversity of innovative solutions to structural engineering problems, while still demonstrating compliance with accepted engineering practice and codes. Win's particular expertise has been in strengthening historically significant buildings maintaining sympathy between the structural strengthening, the architectural features, and the historically significant aspects of the original building forms. 

He's mentored many graduate engineers, assisting them to develop a sound understanding of good, practical, buildable seismic designs while not forgetting innovation. 

Mike Kerr

Mike Kerr

Mike Kerr has been awarded Life Membership at the 2020 ACE New Zealand ACE Awards for his long-standing commitment to the consulting and engineering industry. 

Mike worked at Beca for over 20 years and has served on the ACE New Zealand Board, being Vice President, President and Immediate Past President of ACE. 

He's a strong advocate and the driver for the Diversity Agenda. After leaving Beca, Mike was appointed MBIE's Chief Engineer and continues to work with the industry to improve collaboration and commercial relationships. 


Thank you to all our partners that made the ACE Awards possible!
  • HEB Construction - dinner sponsors
  • Tonkin + Taylor - Emerging Leader Award
  • AECOM - Student Award
  • AON - Premium strategic partner

Communication contact 

To access high-resolution images of all 2020 ACE Award applications, visit ACE New Zealand on Flickr

For image enquires, contact Eloise Angus 027 443 9057 or [email protected]