University of Otago Dental School

Project Features

  • 8,000 sqm new Clinical Services Building
  • 10,000 sqm comprehensive refurbishment of existing Walsh Building
  • Heritage listed façade
  • 1,800 sqm interconnecting atrium
  • Largest dental installation in New Zealand
  • Innovative surgery design
  • Benmax performed Lead Services Contractor role
  • BIM technology utilised extensively
  • Prefabrication technology and production utilised
Year Completed

Project Details

$130m redevelopment project creates world-class teaching facility in Dunedin.

Benmax is proud to have delivered the mechanical services for the major University of Otago Dental School Redevelopment Project. The NZ$130 million project, managed by a Leighs Cockram Joint Venture, was the largest capital redevelopment the university has ever undertaken and involved a major refurbishment of the 10,000 sqm Walsh Building, and the construction of a new 8,000 sqm clinical building.

Stage one of the project, construction of the new Clinical Services Building, was completed in early 2019 with the facility opening to students and the public in June of that year. The building houses clinical services including radiography, oral surgery, pediatric dentistry and orthodontics, as well as the university’s undergraduate clinics. The building has over 200 ultra-modern dental chairs, a host of operating rooms, examination spaces and advanced simulation facilities making it the largest dental installation in New Zealand.

Stage two works were completed in 2020. This phase of the project involved an extensive refurbishment of the existing 10,000 sqm Walsh Building, including the heritage-listed glass façade, and the construction of an 1,800 sqm atrium to connect the old and new buildings. The refurbished building now houses laboratories for research, academic offices, student support spaces, and teaching spaces.

To meet the needs of the client and the tight construction program, Benmax incorporated the use of prefabricated and preassembled HVAC equipment into the build. This innovative construction method supported higher levels of productivity and enabled improved delivery time frames, while also supporting the highest standards of quality control and on-site safety of workers.

One example of how the project team utilised the technology was the prefabrication of two pump modules each with ten inline pumps, measuring around 7m in length. The modules were constructed in Christchurch and then transported to Dunedin for installation into the plantroom. Both pump modules were seismically designed and signed off by the structural engineer with PS4 documentation prior to leaving Christchurch. The frame size was coordinated with corridor widths and plantroom door openings to allow progress on site to continue while fabricating the modules.

The pumps formed part of a multi-services plantroom which, in this case, added another benefit to the prefabrication process. The reduced installation time on site positively impacted the construction program, while also providing a safer workspace as the welding and grinding hours on site were reduced significantly.

Benmax completed the project in 2020 receiving praise from project partners for work as the lead services contractor.


“Benmax took the lead services contractor role on the project and utilised BIM modelling and in-house engineering to assist in coordinating the entire project services install. Benmax were proactive, scrutinised the design early and identified a number of design issues before they become construction issues.”
Nicolas Fletcher, Quantity Surveyor – Leighs Cockram JV
Construction of a new 8,000 sqm clinical services building and refurbishment of 10,000 sqm existing dentistry school at the University of Otago.

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