Heritage Listing

Hornick Constructions

At its inception, founder Cyril Hornick was engaged in house extension, but he became a significant figure in the development of Brisbane (please see sidebar for further details) and first his son and more recently his grandson Adam have continued to build the business. As Adam tells us, “when my father took over the business, the industry was extremely competitive and he started diversifying into water retaining structures, which is what became our main focus. Not many people were into this sector at the time, so we became one of the most prolific builders of concrete reservoirs in Australia.”

Today the company has its own plumbing and pipework division; Hornick’s plumbers are licensed and can carry out domestic work, but also have the appropriate qualifications for major infrastructure projects. Most structural steel and formwork is subcontracted out to regular and trusted partners.

Cyril was one of the biggest contractors in the essential era of Brisbane’s growth from the 1950s through the 1970s and involved in many landmark projects, such as the Pathology Block and Doctors’ Quarters at Princess Alexandra Hospital, the original Taxation Building, the Centenary Pool complex, the heritage listed Gregory Terrace, the JD Story building and stage 2 of Union College, the Main Roads Department building, and Block 8 at the Royal Brisbane Hospital.

In 1971, Hornick Constructions Pty Ltd was formed and this is today the main trading arm of the Hornick group of companies which includes CP Hornick & Son Pty Ltd, Hornick Developments Pty Ltd, CPH Transport Pty Ltd and Hornick Plumbing. The business is managed and operated from the company’s head office and depot in the suburb of Coorparoo, ten minutes from Brisbane’s CBD. Hornick Plumbing has been trading since 1988, undertaking all hydraulic and roofing installations on Hornick projects. This involves the installation of pipework, fittings and equipment up to 1800mm diameter in concrete and cement-lined mild steel, up to a 750mm diameter in ductile iron, and all sizes and types of plastic and copper pipework to a depth of six metres below ground. Hornick Plumbing also undertakes commercial and domestic plumbing installations, gas fitting and roof sheeting and cladding work. All plumbers are fully equipped and mobile, and the division offers 24 hour emergency and maintenance service.

Today Hornick works along most of the eastern seaboard – from Nowra and Wagga Wagga (a large 11 megalitre reservoir) down in New South Wales, right up as far as Lockhart River in northern Queensland. A decade ago there were many reservoirs to be built around Cairns and Townsville too, although this region’s need for water structures has largely been satisfied in recent years.

A very large proportion of the company’s business comes from local councils, specifying local infrastructure upgrades with much of the money coming from state coffers. “In addition, sometimes we will be subcontracting as a small part of a much bigger project, such as the Southern Regional Pipeline Alliance (SRWPA, comprising Abbey Group) to upgrade the water grid with a new pipeline from Wyvenhoe Dam to the Gold Coast, where we constructed a number of reservoirs,” explains Adam.

In fact there were four, and they were big. “It’s something we are rather proud of,” he says. “They are impressive structures,” at 50 m diameter and some 12 m high. Since then there have been many smaller reservoirs, typically around 20 m diameter and 6 to 10 m in height; Hornick Constructions can handle projects up to 70 megalitres, although the largest circular water storage facility completed by the company recently was the 50 megalitre water storage reservoir for CalAqua on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast.

Reservoirs are not simple commodity structures, Adam explains – although the finished products may appear similar, each has very distinct design parameters and pipework requirements and essentially they are all very different. Some are post-tensioned, others just reinforced, which depends on the height of the structure and therefore the water pressures to be contained. Often this in turn depends on what space is available. “There are many factors in the design and everything has to be individually engineered. No two jobs are the same.”

In addition to reservoirs, Hornick Constructions is adept at building water and treatment plants (including projects at Stradbroke Island and Cronulla Water), pump stations (such as Bracken Ridge and Mooloolah), and swimming pools (public pools like the Acacia Ridge 25m complex, Currumundi 25m pool, Kawana 25m pool and diving complex and the Springwood Aquatic Centre). The company is also no stranger to commercial construction, having built the Austral Motors warehouse, Borneo Barracks, Toowoomba and the University of QLD Multi-Purpose Building.

Adam says the preference is always for the company to have some input into the design of its structures, because of the amount of specialist experience, of honing ideas, that it brings to the table. “We have been doing it for a long time and we have become quite good at it,” he explains. Even when the tender does not call for design and construct, Hornick Constructions will usually compile a conforming tender where a design already exists and also a non-conforming tender with its own design for comparison, “which 90 per cent of the time will be cheaper, although it is up to the client which they choose.”

The company is currently working on a subdivision – something of a departure from the norm, but Adam explains, “our plumbers are very experienced and it’s something we have no problem going into, although water tanks and reservoirs remains our prime business, one we concentrate on and specialise in.” Adam says such structures are usually not noticed, unlike major architect designed commercial buildings that stand out on the street. A reservoir is often out of sight altogether, hidden by trees or landscaped so as to be inconspicuous, but it goes without saying that it is a vital piece of construction unconsciously appreciated by whole communities. “I think they are quite beautiful structures, functional and important, even though they are not in the middle of town.”

Home Automation

Call it ‘domotics,’ and you are likely to receive a blank stare, but refer to it as ‘smart home’ or ‘home automation,’ and you will get a nod of acknowledgement. For the past few years, consumers have heard the word ‘smart’ attached to countless products and services, from food and drink to snacks like popcorn and mobile phones, which no one seems to refer to as a ‘cellphone’ anymore. Yet what, exactly, constitutes ‘smart’?

September 27, 2020, 3:26 AM AEST