Sixty years of creative construction

Established in New Zealand in 1961 by entrepreneurial Kiwis Malcolm McConnell and Jim Dowell, McConnell Dowell is celebrating its 60th year in business as a company that seeks to provide a better life for the people of our country.

“It seems a long time ago that Malcolm and Jim worked on Auckland subdivisions, the demolition of the Panmure Bridge and the offshore water-cooling system for Marsden Point Power Station,” says Fraser Wyllie, managing director of McConnell Dowell New Zealand and Pacific. “However, even then they were working to improve the lives of Kiwis by providing the potential for new housing, the associated water, wastewater and transport infrastructure, hundreds of kilometres of LPG and gas pipeline, and electrifying the North Island Main Trunk Line.”

“These days we’re involved in a wide range of projects which aligns with our purpose of “providing a better life” for our clients, our communities, our stakeholders and our people. Whether we’re constructing the Auckland City Mission HomeGround building in a more sustainable manner or the Pukekohe Wastewater Treatment Plant to address Auckland’s growth, our projects always ultimately improve the quality of life for New Zealanders.”

McConnell Dowell has also been synonymous with innovation across its market sectors. The company’s trophy cabinet is overflowing with awards, such as for the Te Matau ā Pohe – Lower Hatea River Crossing, SH1 Russley Road, SH20 Waterview Connection, Hobson Bay Tunnel and Māngere Wastewater Treatment Plant. In the past 12 months, the company has added to its long list of record-breaking ocean outfalls, with the 2,021 metre Direct Pipe drive at Snells-Algies Ocean Outfall. The Health & Safety Award from the CCNZ Canterbury Branch for the Lyttleton Tunnel Deluge in Christchurch has been another recent highlight.

Internationally, McConnell Dowell is highly respected for its marine pedigree having won the prestigious Australian Construction Achievement Award for Port of Melbourne’s Webb Dock to support new roll-on/ roll-off ferries. It also recently completed construction of the iconic Marina Bay Sands waterfront store in Singapore, and the infrastructure and public space to support Emirates Team New Zealand’s recent success at the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland.

Te Matau ā Pohe – Lower Hatea River Crossing

Building new sustainable transport infrastructure, safely

McConnell Dowell has been involved in a number of sustainable transport projects across Auckland, including the cut and cover tunnel for the City Rail Link C2 contract, electrifying the rail line from Papakura to Pukekohe, the architecturally stunning walking and cycling Old Māngere replacement bridge, and the Northern Pathway project.

The Puhinui Bus/Rail Interchange in Auckland is another great example of how the company is improving lives. McConnell Dowell with its building arm, Built Environs, demolished the Puhinui Station footbridge and is now constructing a new multimodal interchange that will ultimately improve transport options in Auckland.

One of the features that the team is most proud of is designing and constructing a bespoke ‘rail protection deck’, a New Zealand first, that enables safe work over the 24/7 live rail network to extend the central rail platform and lift materials over the live train tracks and electrified lines.

Snells Algies Ocean Outfall

Improving the health of people

Above ground, Built Environs is constructing New Zealand’s tallest mass timber building for the Auckland City Mission. This exceptional project will provide new accommodation and facilities for some of the city’s most vulnerable people while pushing the boundaries of materials and construction, delivering a significant lift in sustainability.

The ability of McConnell Dowell and Built Environs to improve lives is also shown on Adelaide’s Modbury Hospital upgrade. Part of the State Government of South Australia’s Building ‘What Matters’ initiative, the team is delivering this multi-staged project within a highly constrained, operational hospital. Of the 13,000m2 of work in scope, all work areas are directly above, below and/or beside active and busy hospital areas.

“This is arguably the most complex and invasive operational hospital redevelopment undertaken in South Australia,” says state manager, Tony Jachmann. “Most satisfyingly though, there have been no disruption to hospital services at all, despite multiple challenges with services and commissioning.”

Marina Bay Sands Waterfront Store
SH1 Russley Rd Memorial Arch

Looking ahead

Fraser Wyllie says that what most excites McConnell Dowell people as they look ahead into the next 60 years is the opportunity to use their creative construction capabilities to solve multiple challenging problems for clients and provide a better life for people.

“Clients look for certainty of cost, time, and quality outcomes. We’re able to match methodologies and techniques to risks and client needs, giving a better view of the opportunity – thanks to our strong end-to-end system understanding of engineering processes. It also means we can pull the right resources and people together to take on and value-engineer challenging projects.

“Given the border closures, we are also lucky to have loyal, local and highly experienced people in our business”. Wyllie is optimistic about the future of the industry for people looking for an exciting career that also leaves a positive legacy.