Mark Dunajtschik faced a problem. A compliant building was evacuated by government tenant IRD at a minute’s notice. The council had changed the earthquake rules for the second time in 10 years.
Dunajtschik was stunned that these people were setting the bar so incredibly high—unnecessarily high, according to the man himself.
What you’re about to read is astonishing.
In a 2-year period, Mark D, as he is known to many in close circles, navigated a DHB that was so unorganised it nearly didn’t happen, designed and built a children’s hospital and donated the 50 million to build it, donated another 10 million to Victoria University to create an engineering school, and fixed his 11-story building opposite Wellington railway station called Asteron House. All at the same time while working on other projects as well.
I asked him how much the insurance paid out. His answer was nothing!
Aghast at that answer and the thought that it would end most people’s businesses, he spent $10 million of his own cash to install huge steel plates on every floor and link them together to make the building code compliant.
That description of the work is a gross oversimplification of the engineering feat, but you get the picture.
Mark D is a New Zealand property developer based in Wellington who is a champion of earthquake-resilient designs and simple thinking and appears to just march on and get huge projects completed.
Dunajtschik has been building earthquake-resistant buildings in Wellington since the 1990s, long before the city became a focal point for earthquakes.
One of his most notable achievements is the Asteron building, which is highlighted in this story.
Overall, Mark Dunajtschik is a visionary property developer who has shown time and time again his commitment to building structures that are safe, sustainable, and resilient.
His contributions to Wellington’s urban landscape demonstrate how innovative design and construction practises can make a real difference to community resilience in the face of natural disasters.
Mark Dunajtschik and Wellington Live publisher Graham Bloxham, who organised access for this article
Asteron house across from Railway.
This steel system was installed on all floors and cost $10 million.