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CQ Hotel, Cuba Street

In 2017, Built Construction Group was engaged by Rex Nicholls, owner at that time of the CQ Hotel situated at 213–223 Cuba Street in Wellington, to carry out a complete seismic upgrade of around $4 million. The upgrade was required so that the hotel would meet the new building standard for structural integrity, with a structural rating of 70% New Building Standard (NBS), and thereby facilitate the sale of the hotel to new owners upon completion.

As a little background, the CQ Hotel building was constructed in 1904, and was a refuge to women who were shunned by conservative early 20th century society for certain lifestyle choices. In 1908, the building was known as the “Salvation Army’s People’s Palace” and, at that time, it provided alcohol-free accommodation to ordinary people. It was important to Rex Nicholls that the essence of the building was retained in carrying out the seismic upgrade. The hotel is now owned by Singapore based owner, HC Tan, and offers excellent comfort and quality to its clients.

Built Construction Group’s seismic upgrade of the hotel building involved installing an exoskeleton of steel, which was bolted securely into the building’s structure. This required invasive works to the hotel, impacting around 20 hotel rooms at any time, as Built Construction Group worked its way around the building, installing steel on the outside, and stripping back the rooms on the inside to connect the steel into the building’s structure. Once the structural works were complete, we completed fit-outs of the hotel rooms to return them back to their previous state, making them ready for comfortable occupation by guests.

The primary challenge for this project was ensuring that the hotel could remain operational throughout the intrusive works that were required to complete the seismic upgrade. Achieving this involved regular meetings and methodical planning, temporarily closing off various sections of the hotel, one area at a time, while leaving the rest of the hotel operational.

Given the great success of this project, Built Construction Group continues to work with Rex Nicholls, having established a solid working relationship for undertaking other projects together.

Here is what Rex says about the project:

“As far as we know, this is the only exoskeleton building in the Wellington region or across New Zealand strengthened in this manner. The brick walls proved to be of very high quality and can take the earthquake movements in the direction parallel to the wall. In an already competitive market, this sort of elective work is hard on the business, but we feel even more assured in the building’s safety now – and that’s what counts for our guests.”

Project Details


Rex Nicholls

Project Type
Seismic Upgrade


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