Seattle University Center for Science & Innovation

The Center for Science and Innovation will feature a new five-story gateway building—equipped with future-focused classrooms, research laboratories, a public maker space, assembly areas, and administrative offices. The center will be a scientific hub on campus where every SU undergraduate will take core science classes. The focus on hands-on, experiential amenities will inspire the exploration of new technologies.

Holmes Fire was engaged to provide smoke control design for the building and worked closely with the design team and authorities having jurisdiction to accommodate its five-story atrium. Conventionally, building codes limit atria to three stories. Through alternate means and methods and performance-based engineering, Holmes Fire designed and obtained approval for an atrium smoke control system that will safely protect occupants in case of a fire. This smoke control system was optimized to solely rely on automatic opening exterior doors for air supply, which eliminated reliance on mechanical ducts while supporting the architectural vision for the interior and exterior facade.

Beautiful wood furniture and stairways will be located at the base of the atrium. The smoke control system was developed based on a worst-case fire scenario involving these key architectural elements. Procedural requirements were developed to allow these items to be located within the atrium.

The Poche Centre

The Poche Centre is a purpose designed building providing research, teaching, education, consultation and treatment facilities for the Melanoma Institute Australia. The building
contains auditoriums, laboratories, consultation and examination areas as well as administrative and car parking facilities. The building was designed to provide flexibility in the use of each space, an objective that can clash with the prescriptive requirements of the Building Code of Australia (BCA).

Holmes Fire was engaged to provide fire engineering services in relation to a number of non-compliances with the Deemed-to-Satisfy Provisions of the BCA including reduced fire resistance levels, extended travel distances, egress via a steep ramp, deletion of sprinklers from the concealed floor space, and the non-compliant locations of the fire brigade hydrant booster connection and the sprinkler valve / hydrant pump room. Our experienced engineers were able to halve the required fire resistance level for the laboratory areas by considering the specific nature of the research and testing undertaken in these areas. This represented a considerable cost saving to the client and enabled the building to maintain
maximum functionality. Furthermore, by proposing fast response sprinkler heads within the carpark, Holmes Fire was able to justify extended travel distances without introducing significant additional costs for the project.

Holmes Fire also undertook construction monitoring for the project, attending regular site meetings to provide ongoing fire engineering advice to ensure the works were carried out in accordance with the fire engineering design.

St Vincent’s College

St Vincent’s College, Potts Point has recently finished a refurbishment to its Block B buildings, improving the circulation between classrooms and adding an all-weather outdoor space. The new addition, designed by ThomsonAdsett Architects, features open walkways overlooking a covered breezeway, which has a modern aesthetic featuring glass and concrete, contrasting to the heritage façade it is connected to. The overall result is an impressive construction, improving the functionality of these once disconnected buildings, whilst being sympathetic to its heritage features.

The design incorporates louvered glass walls creating a breezeway, transforming a once dark and neglected area of the building into a bright airy, all weather space for students to enjoy during their class breaks. Holmes Fire played a key role in the realisation of this architectural vision, using a performance based approach to justify omission of sprinklers to much of the breezeway, the use of natural ventilation instead of mechanical smoke exhaust and the use of a glass feature stair for egress.

The experienced Fire Engineers at Holmes Fire used CFD (Computational Fluid Dynamics) modelling to assess the impact of potential fire scenarios and married that with results from and computer based egress modelling to demonstrate that students, staff and visitors would be afforded sufficient time to evacuate safety.

RRSIC – Ernest Rutherford Stage 1

RRSIC Stage 1 project was the larger and more technically challenging of the two stages of the Rutherford Regional Science and Innovation Centre. With a total project budget of $216 million for Stages 1 and 2, the new centre will provide accommodation for the College of Science, along with an unprecedented resource for the Canterbury region.

Minimisation of fire separation to reduce fire rating to services and penetrations was critical to the client and architectural vision for an open and connected teaching environment. This also contributed to ease of construction, reduced construction cost and minimising future maintenance requirements for the building.

During the period between design approval and completion of the building the fire design withstood several changes to the building design with minimal implications. This demonstrated the risk consideration/robustness approach to the final functionality and buildability applied to the final fire design, while still minimising ‘over design’. The fire design gave the other consultants and client and confidence to design and not mandate or constrict their solutions.

The design stages were delivered on time and on budget, with active involvement through the extended construction period required by Fletchers.

Holmes Fire also provided structural fire analysis using finite element methods to demonstrate the capacity of specific structural members.

Blyth Performing Arts Centre

The new Blyth Performing Arts Centre at Iona College, Hawkes Bay sits proudly near the entry to the school. The building houses a 400 seat auditorium, entry foyer and associated back of house and support facilities essential for a performing arts centre environment. The building adopts the use of timber throughout, adding warmth to both the performance space and the building’s exterior. The asymmetric and gracefully curved roof of the building further adds an embracing character to the acoustically refined space.

Holmes Fire undertook a Fire Engineering Briefing (FEB) process for the Performing Arts Centre building, to establish the key parameters for the fire design from relevant project stakeholders prior to the building consent stage. Identified during the briefing process, the fire engineering design also considered the school’s intentions for a future additional stage of works to extend the centre’s facilities.

We provided Performance-Based Engineering design services for the building, which included smoke and egress modelling to determine fire safety compliance within the auditorium and foyer spaces.  This enabled the design to optimise the number and width of egress routes provided within the building, in turn enabling higher utilisation of floor area for public and support activities.  The location and extent of passive fire separations was carefully considered throughout the building to minimise the impact that these would have on theatre functionality and maintenance. Liaison with the local fire brigade also was critical to achieving appropriate fire fighting facilities, whilst minimising the impact of the relevant equipment on the welcoming aesthetic of the building.

John Phillips Library

The Kingswood campus for the University of Western Sydney was originally a dairy farm. In the 1960’s, the site was changed to be a tertiary education precinct where the University of Western Sydney later set up one of its campus’.  

In 2011, a new library was designed for the campus to be positioned along the main campus walk, at the centre of University life.  

The design, a new five storey library, consolidates facilities from two campuses. The large skylights and windows allow natural light to enter and open views across the greater campus.  

Holmes Fire provided a series of alternative performance solutions, in particular, we engineered the smoke exhaust rates for the atrium allowing for an optimised design and improved location of smoke control fans, improving the design aesthetic from within. Holmes Fire also optimised the fire protection of fibre-reinforced concrete beams, working within extreme tolerances.  

UWS library is a great example of performance-based fire engineering, providing practical solutions to enhance design and functional outcomes.

Alexandria Park Community School

This temporary school is planned as a pop-up design to temporarily house the students until the complete project is completed. This temporary facility includes performance space, two science laboratories and prep rooms, a technology unity and a visual arts space along with classrooms.  

The development was an ambitious take on providing temporary school structures to extend the existing school complex. A holistic fire safety design was developed, combining structural fire engineering methods and advanced egress analysis, such that the final building design was both buildable and functional. This also allowed for the aesthetic appeal of the untouched exposed steel structure to be emphasised, with the industrial features remaining at the forefront of the design.  

Advanced occupant warning and alert systems were utilised in the fire engineering design to greatly enhance building evacuation measures. The fire engineering design also introduced a high level of flexibility and customisation into the prefabrication process, which enabled fast on-site erection, improved quality control and thus a simpler, safer overall solution.

Live Oak School

The building housing Live Oak School was originally constructed in the 1930s and was for many years used as a Hills Brothers Coffee plant. Oak School originally occupied the western half of the building. To support its growing enrollment, the school is expanding into the building’s eastern half.

Holmes Fire provided fire and life safety code consulting for a rare scenario: the client technically occupied two addresses in a complicated building with educational and office spaces. Holmes Fire evaluated the impacts of expanding into the formerly unoccupied wing, with the additions of classrooms and a large ground-floor cafeteria. Our team ultimately helped these areas meet egress requirements and fire & life safety upgrades, while also facilitating the permitting of a new rooftop sports court.

Holmes Structures provided schematic design services for the school’s Master Plan and is currently designing tenant improvements for Phase 2 of the expansion. Holmes Structures also completed an ASCE 41-13 seismic evaluation of the four-story reinforced concrete building. The design of a seismic retrofit, which will allow the School to obtain an “Education” occupancy for the building’s eastern half is ongoing. The efforts undertaken by Holmes Structures and the school will meet provisions of the recently-adopted Private Schools Earthquake Safety Act.


MIT Manukau & Transport Interchange

Holmes Fire took on a challenging brief from the client to have an atrium surrounded by teaching spaces, without any enclosure to the atrium. Additional complexity was added as the building was to sit atop a new train station, which was already under construction. Our brief was to avoid barriers between the atrium and train station as well. It needed to appear just as easy to go downstairs for a train as to go upstairs for an education.

This building was designed as an alternative solution to the NZ Building Code (1992) and involved a bespoke atrium smoke control system which could be run in reverse to prevent smoke spread from the train station. Our analysis involved detailed computational fluid dynamics (CFD) modelling to assess the smoke migration through the atrium void and this was married with occupant egress modelling to demonstrate that people could evacuate safely.

Holmes Fire also undertook specific assessment of the steel structure (including the external diagrid structure) and our experienced engineers were able to secure significant cost savings for the client by minimising the intumescent coatings required on the structure.