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Multiplex halts Collins Arch 'Pantscraper' work over precast columns

Rob DiBlasi, 4D Workshop director, said the building was safe.

"There’s no issue with the structural integrity of the building," he told The Australian Financial Review. "There are some minor issues with regard to precast columns."

A NSW government report in February into cracking at Opal Tower, which triggered the evacuation of residents from their homes on Christmas Eve, pointed to the construction and assembly of the tower's precast concrete beams as the cause.

Contractor Multiplex halted work on Melbourne's Collins Arch project – seen here in render – after it suffered movement in its structural concrete columns. 

Aside from poor assembly of beams, there was also insufficient grout – concrete "glue" made up of water, cement, and sand – at the joints between the hob beams and panels, causing stress in the panels, the report said.

A Multiplex spokeswoman late on Tuesday said it was unclear when work would resume on the site.

"They are not anticipating any lengthy delays," she said.

One source told the Financial Review that a failure of grouting used to hold a precast column was part of the problem identified on the Collins Arch site on Tuesday and that a similar problem had occurred about a week ago.

"That's not right," Mr DiBlasi said. He did not provide any more details.

The possible fault of precast concrete on a $1.2 billion project in the middle of Melbourne's CBD will add to calls for reforms to Australia's construction industry and for states to implement recommendations of last year's Shergold-Weir Building Confidence report.

Construction industry reform is problematic, as each state and territory is responsible for its own jurisdiction and co-ordinating moves relies on co-operation by the different states.

In February, the federal government offered to help the states implement the 24 Shergold-Weir recommendations by establishing a taskforce that it would fund and work with the states, but the states declined the offer.

Last month the federal government's Clean Energy Finance Corporation made a $100 million loan backing sustainability measures at the Collins Arch project.

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