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More broken glass at ASIO's troubled new headquarters

What appears to be a missing glass panel on the ASIO building.

What appears to be a missing glass panel on the ASIO building. Photo: Melissa Adams

The desolate new headquarters of spy agency ASIO has lost another expensive glass panel.

A tall pane almost four metres high broke last month on the building's top floor.

A spokeswoman for the Finance Department, which is overseeing the complex's construction, said the glass ''shattered into small pieces but remained in place and was removed manually''.

An exclusion zone was set up and the ACT's work safety authority was notified.

The $700 million office block - a vast arc of glass that overlooks Lake Burley Griffin - has been plagued by problems with its windows.

About two years ago, 19 of the panes, each of which cost $3500, ''progressively failed'', according to the department, and fell off. The area was evacuated before the first sheet fell. No one was injured.

But the incidents delayed construction by weeks, which helped push several building subcontractors on the site into insolvency.

The windows that fell in 2012 had not, at the time, been fixed permanently to the building. But the latest pane shattered even though most aspects of the headquarter's construction finished months ago.

The monolithic office - Canberra's largest - was formally opened in July last year, and many of the intelligence agency's 2000 staff were expected to move in two months later.

But it remains empty, and ASIO is unsure when it will move in.

The project, which began seven years ago, has been beset by problems, which helped inflate its costs from an initial estimate of $460 million.

In 2011, a teenager breached the secure construction site and fell nine metres into a basement, where he lay unconscious for 36 hours.

The building's blueprints were also stolen, allegedly by Chinese hackers.

None of the workers who helped build the office can discuss its troubles publicly, because they have signed confidentiality agreements.

15 comments

  • Pretty sure its been down for about 3 weeks... How about getting the architect back to fix his mess??

    Commenter
    Shogunmatty
    Location
    Reality
    Date and time
    February 06, 2014, 7:45AM
    • With the number of revisions this building has been through, I'd say this is more a case of too many hands than the original architect doing a bad job.

      Commenter
      Daniel
      Date and time
      February 06, 2014, 8:22AM
    • Are you an architect Daniel??, They are good at shifting blame when something they design doesn't work...Its always the guys on site's fault...

      Commenter
      Shogunmatty
      Location
      Reality
      Date and time
      February 06, 2014, 8:29AM
    • At least 3 weeks

      Commenter
      NITRO GANGSTER
      Date and time
      February 07, 2014, 8:52AM
  • What a joke!!!! Who is responsible of this fiasco?

    Commenter
    Robilant
    Date and time
    February 06, 2014, 8:06AM
    • Department of Finance

      Commenter
      Combatwombat
      Date and time
      February 06, 2014, 10:52AM
  • Just turn it into public housing and be done with it.

    Commenter
    Economist
    Date and time
    February 06, 2014, 9:22AM
    • +1

      Commenter
      dramas
      Date and time
      February 06, 2014, 11:12AM
  • spies who work in glass houses..............

    Commenter
    stoney
    Date and time
    February 06, 2014, 11:26AM
    • I don't think you can outrightly blame the architect - it could be that the product is new to this market and though tested at the factory, may be totally untested in this new build and environment, facing south, with blustery strong winds and the highest temps Canb has ever experienced. Remember these panes of glass are 4 metres tall, that is a huge wind loading, and an architect may have been "guaranteed" its strength and durability when in fact may not have been tested for these precise conditions. Perhaps it was the fixtures that are faulty. Until the whole thing is examined in detail, we won't know for sure.

      Don't blame the architect, in fact you can't even blame the maker of the glass. These things happen, even in every-day builds of normal homes or office blocks. Unfortunately for the government and the taxpayer, the building remains empty for reasons of safety to staff and to other members of the public who are likely to go to this building.

      I am not an architect, but I do have an understanding of building materials to some extent, and I rather think that the architect's team (because it would not have been just one architect working on this) are having to explain why things are going wrong with this building and the materials used. I feel for them because it will not be an easy process to go through while there are so many factors (and other contract/ors) involved.

      So don't criticise if you don't know at least some of the facts.

      Commenter
      spikeyhair
      Location
      macgregor
      Date and time
      February 06, 2014, 11:38AM

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