Winston D C Clark

Citation on the award of Life Membership, April 2015

Win Clark is conferred with Life Membership for his significant contribution to earthquake engineering in New Zealand.

Win cut his teeth with the Ministry of Works and then spent the second half of his formal work years with Sinclair, Knight Mertz and its predecessor companies.

Win is well known for his extensive understanding and particularly practical application of earthquake resistant structural design philosophies.  This has allowed him to incorporate into his designs a wide diversity of innovative solutions to structural engineering problems, whilst still demonstrating compliance with accepted engineering practice and codes.  Win’s particular expertise has been in strengthening historically significant buildings maintaining sympathy between the structural strengthening, the architectural features, and the historically significant aspects of the original building forms.

One such project involved the very successful design and construction monitoring of the replacement piles and foundation substructure for the four storey historic Government Wooden Building, a project involving a number of critical elements to manage such as confined working space, high water table and high fire risk.

Of further note was his solution to the strengthening of the 10 storey Rankin Brown building for Victoria University of Wellington, where he chose a base isolation system, which resulted in minimal disruption to the daily operation of the building during the isolation process.  The strengthening and upgrading design for the 1930 earthquake prone Regent Theatre building in Masterton was another successful project ably managed by Win from design to project completion, resulting in three cinemas and a live theatre, and an ACENZ award for his company.

He has mentored many graduate engineers, assisting them to develop a sound understanding of good practical, buildable seismic designs while not forgetting innovation.  For IPENZ, Win was also a Practise Area Assessor for several years and then a Staff Assessor for two years.

Having just decided on retirement from his regular employment at SKM, Win was approached in late 2008 to apply for the newly created Executive Office role in the Society.  In his application, Win indicated that he would like to spend his time giving something back to the profession and had a passion for contributing to improvements in earthquake engineering, being confident he could carry out administrative tasks as well as technical tasks.  Many of the Management Committee were already well aware of Win’s considerable earthquake engineering expertise and considered that he could add significantly both to the technical and administrative management of the Society.  He was the successful applicant for the position and continues to provide the Society with excellent service as its Executive Officer.

Immediately following the Darfield earthquake, Win’s expertise in and understanding of the behaviour of unreinforced masonry buildings proved invaluable.  When asked to assist Heritage New Zealand and Christchurch City Council Conservation Architecture staff in providing advice to the Civil Defence Controller on the stability and resilience of unreinforced masonry buildings he immediately agreed and commenced work in Christchurch the next day.

He provided much valuable advice to owners and other engineers, as well as to the Civil Defence Controllers, especially in regard to those buildings with significant heritage value.  This work became even more important following the February event and Win was a frequent sight in the CBD and around the region providing advice, often at little or no cost to the recipients.  That his advice has been acted upon so commonly is a true measure of the respect in which he is held.

In the years since the earthquakes Win has continued to work throughout New Zealand with Heritage New Zealand, many Local Authorities and the New Zealand Society for Earthquake Engineering, speaking at seminars on earthquake strengthening techniques for un-reinforced masonry buildings, and providing much needed advice to owners concerned about the cost and uncertainty they face through possible changes to the Building Act.

Win’s contribution to the field of earthquake engineering, his support of the management of the Society and his engineering guidance on the preservation and strengthening of historic structures has been exemplary.  The Society is very pleased to acknowledge Win for his outstanding commitment to earthquake engineering in New Zealand through this award of Life Membership.