Building Service Life: Extending Beyond Design Life

Rick Kreeck
Associate Director
BG&E, Sydney

Our city skylines are dynamic in form, consisting of an evolving blend of old and new. Often, existing towers become synonymous with the city’s identity, such as the Seidler-designed MLC Centre and Australia Square towers in Sydney. Buildings transcend utility: community expectation in the service life of these structures can be extended.

Increasing the service life of infrastructure through condition monitoring and refurbishment has been common practice; however, buildings are generally designed with a shorter service life in mind, without consideration of serviceability beyond this period. As many tall buildings are reaching the end of their design life, such as Australia Square, we need to rethink our approach.

Durability may be seen as less important in building structures, as superstructures are often well protected, but some elements, such as basements, can be exposed to aggressive environments, particularly saline groundwater. Numerous developments in coastal areas have waterproofing and durability issues in basement structures and façades. Learning from these structures can be applied to better assess the risk associated with the extension of service life to buildings, preserving the essence of our city skylines.

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