Earthquake engineering has a long history at the University of Auckland. S. Irwin Crookes Jr (1896-1983) was a structural engineer who lectured at the then-Auckland University College’s School of Architecture when a magnitude 7.8 earthquake caused great destruction and loss of life in Napier and Hastings in 1931. Prompted by the disaster, Crookes composed four bulletins, each concerned with mitigating the effects of further earthquakes. Crookes’ first bulletin, ‘Earthquake-resisting construction, a review’, published in September, 1931, (Bulletin No. 16, Architecture Series No. 2) stated that ‘structures are being erected in New Zealand incorporating some of the very worst features of buildings that have failed in earthquakes’. He outlined international building codes and practices, questioning those of New Zealand, and strongly recommended that the University Colleges of the day have a key role in earthquake and construction research in order to ‘avoid the pitfalls of the past but also to keep permanently in touch with modern developments’. His subsequent bulletins, in 1932, 1936, and 1940, examined New Zealand reinforced concrete, Japanese design calculation methods and structural design.
In recent times the University of Auckland anticipated the need for further research and knowledge of such situations and, in 2007, The University of Auckland Centre for Earthquake Engineering Research (UACEER) was established. The Canterbury earthquakes in September 2010, and February 2011 subsequently drew into sharp focus the need for ongoing research in preparedness for the next ‘big one’, whether earthquake or other disaster. In line with Crookes’ recommendation over 70 years ago, the universities of Auckland and Canterbury are collaborating with each other, and other technology and industry groups, in a Seismic Retrofit Solutions programme that pools research and expertise pertaining to earthquakes and other disasters. Events like the 2012 Winter Series of annual lectures at the University of Auckland based on the theme ‘Hazards, disasters, risks and responses: Auckland are you ready?’ serve to disseminate awareness and knowledge by contributing to national and international seismic research.
S. Irwin Crookes Jr was an early pioneer of earthquake research at the University of Auckland and his bulletins attest to his contribution to a line of scholarship continued by earthquake research today. Bound volumes of these and bulletins on other topics such as law, history, and philosophy may be consulted in the Special Collections Reading Room, and individual issues may be found on the General Library shelves and in the Architecture Library.
Yvonne Sutherland, Special Collections
Bulletin / Auckland University College. No. 1 (1927)-no. 52 (1957) Auckland, N.Z.: The College, 1927-1957. NZ Glass Case 378.95 A89
Lowe, Peter G. Some Professional Engineers Working in Auckland in the First Half of the Twentieth Century [online]. In Martin, Ray L. (Editor) 9th National Conference on Engineering Heritage: Proceedings. Melbourne, Vic.: Institution of Engineers, Australia , Victoria Division.,1998: 107-113. ISBN:1858256843. [cited 16 Nov 12].
The University of Auckland. (ca 2012) The University of Auckland Faculty of Engineering Infrastructure and Environment Research Theme. [Brochure]