University of Canterbury’s oldest hall of residence College House today celebrated the opening of a new ‘house’ thanks to the generosity of US philanthropist and College House alumnus Dr David Maidment and his wife, Helen.

David and Helen have donated half a million dollars ($500,000) towards the rebuild and development of what is now called Maidment House.

College House principal Laraine Sharr says, “We are absolutely overwhelmed at David and Helen’s generosity and we’re hugely grateful for them to support College House in this tangible way.”

For today’s opening, Dr David Maidment and Dr Helen Maidment joined together with the College House board and its 159 resident students, David’s alumni group and friends to celebrate this significant post-earthquake milestone. A dedication and blessing by the former Bishop of Christchurch, the Rt Rev Dr David Coles was followed by a tour of the new Maidment House, and a formal dinner in the evening.

Dr Maidment says, ”Helen and I met when I was a student at College House in 1968-1970 when I was completing my engineering degree, and we got engaged in my room there. Since then we’ve lived in the US, Austria and back here in New Zealand, and since 1981 we’ve been in Texas.

“We visited Christchurch again at the end of 2013, saw the damage and grief first-hand and understood the long hill to climb, to restore and renew Christchurch. We wanted to help with the rebuild in some form or other and, because College House has such a special place in our hearts, helping fund what is now Maidment House was the perfect fit for us.”

College House’s Main Block was damaged in the February 2011 earthquake. After complex negotiations with the insurers, it was decided that rather than repair the building, the best action was to rebuild to take the building up to 100% of the current building standard.

The rebuild has two major components – the establishment of a new ‘house’ – now Maidment House – that increases its original capacity from seven bedrooms into a new full house of 15 study bedrooms on one floor, and the reconstruction and enlarging of the dining hall and kitchen. The official opening of the dining hall and kitchen is scheduled for early 2016.

Designed by Warren and Mahoney in the mid-1960s, the rebuild of College House’s main block and Maidment House has been overseen by architect Alec Bruce from Wilkie + Bruce. The building contractor is Duncan Taylor Builders Limited. The rebuild of the main block fronting Waimairi Road has enabled College House to preserve the integrity of Sir Miles Warren’s design whilst bringing it up-to-date in terms of seismic technology, thermal performance and modern services.

Mrs Sharr says, “All of us at College House are truly appreciative of David and Helen’s generosity in funding what is now Maidment House. We salute their magnificent gesture. We know that this year’s 15 Maidment House students will value and revel in their new surroundings, as will generations of students to come.”

College House is the University of Canterbury’s oldest hall of residence. It was established in 1850 as part of Christ’s College, then located in Rolleston Avenue in central Christchurch. Originally taking only male students, since then it’s evolved into a co-ed independent hall of residence at UC’s site at Ilam. The 159 students live in 11 houses in spacious grounds in Waimairi Road. 

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