Constructing an icon: Celebrating the Sky Tower's 20th birthday

General News

Mar 05, 2017

Since inception, Fletcher has built a reputation for tackling the toughest projects. But none could be more so than the Auckland Sky Tower. Now 20 years after its completion, the tower remains both an icon of Auckland and a symbol of our ambition. 

At 328m high, built to withstand 200km/hr winds and resist 8.0 magnitude earthquakes, containing 15,00 cubic metres of concrete, 200 tonnes of reinforcing steel and 660 tonnes of structural steel, there’s no doubt that the Sky Tower is a magnificent piece of engineering. But it’s the people behind the project that remain its greatest legacy. 

Administration Manager Buk Sue remembers it fondly,

It’s a once in a lifetime job…the sheer size, the number of staff, the amount of unknowns, the complexity, the number of innovations, even just accessing the site (a whole corner block right in the heart of Auckland CBD) was challenging.

The tallest tower in the Southern Hemisphere, and with a polarising needle-like design, every aspect of the project required the team to continually stretch their thinking. “We’d never done anything like it before… even the weather was challenging. There could be a ten degree difference in temperature from the bottom to the top. The wind was an ongoing challenge - especially the lifting of the last section of the mast,” said Buk.
And of course, building something so unique in such a high profile spot will attract significant public interest. “It was such an iconic job, everyone was looking at us. Paul Homes was one of our biggest fans – he used to come over almost every week to watch the construction. We were always on show.”
With a seemingly impossible two year construction programme, close relationships with the construction team and a willingness to relinquish weekends, time with family and almost everything else for the duration of the project were essential said Buk. “It was a great team – we all had a shared goal, we all worked the long hours to achieve what we needed to.”  
This shared vision saw the tower completed on time and on budget, in March 2017. On its 20th birthday, the Sky Tower remains New Zealand’s most visited attraction, welcoming around 500 000 people every year. But more than just a tourist attraction, the Sky Tower created a focal point for Auckland. It’s impossible to imagine Auckland without it.