Auckland hotel’s “foundation in the sky” wins Site Safe award

14 Jun 2023

A 39-story construction project that “stacked” two hotels one above the other with a “foundation in the sky” halfway up has been recognised for the innovative ways it looked after workers on a challenging site.

Australasian construction company ICON won Site Safe’s Safety Innovation Award for its work on Auckland’s Voco-Holiday Inn Express hotel, which opened on Wyndham St last year.

Site Safe Chief Executive Brett Murray says construction of the $178 million hotel was “a tough, uniquely complex piece of work with a huge number of technical, structural challenges including cantilevering part of the upper structure out over Wyndham Street.

“The two hotels are operated by different hotel chains and have different room layouts which meant the building’s internal columns did not line up. Structural transfer beams – the “foundation in the sky” – were needed to match the column spacings at the 21st level.

“At any one time, there were up to 380 people working on the site, working for up 60 subcontractors. As well as keeping workers safe by changing the way they worked, for example prefabrication and doing as much construction as possible at ground level, ICON also made greater use of analytics and safety systems which it is continuing to use to improve safety and business outcomes for future projects,” Murray said.

The innovation award is part of Site Safe’s 2023 Construction Health, Safety and Wellbeing awards and is for the best new ideas to improve health and safety and managing a specific hazard.

Karyn Beattie, ICON’s New Zealand Regional Health Safety Environment and Quality Manager, also picked up Site Safe’s Safety Contribution award for the individual who made an outstanding contribution to health and safety in construction.

Award judges said she is at the forefront of ICON’s focus on valuing their people and providing safe, welcoming working environments. She is the youngest board member of the New Zealand Safety Council and is Chair of the Health and Safety Professionals Group.

Beattie was also heavily involved in the Voco-HIE hotel project. She said it was a “very safe site to work on, in the context of a heavy construction sector environment that is not tightly controlled.

“Only 25 workers on site worked for ICON. The rest were subcontractors, so we needed good communication and collaboration to work around the complexities of what had to be done.

“It was like trying to catch individual snowflakes in a blizzard.

“Detailed planning was incredibly important.” ICON spent up to nine months planning their construction methodology to deliver the hotel project.

The second Covid lockdown added to the site’s challenges. At one stage, no more than three people, including the lift operator, were allowed in the site’s one lift.

Murray said Beattie’s influence is apparent in the wider health and safety community. “She’s passionate, gets things done, and has a great knack of being strategic and operational at the same time.”

About Site Safe

Site Safe is the New Zealand construction industry’s largest health and safety member organisation with 6500 member businesses. It aims to provide the best leadership, behaviour and systems to support a positive change in the health and safety culture in New Zealand.

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About ICON

ICON is one of Australia and New Zealand’s largest construction providers with over 80 projects ranging in size of up to $400 million and annual revenues in excess of $1.7 billion.


Adam Still: 021 332 110 &

Karyn Beattie: 021 957 892 &