Shipping containers will be placed around a Defence Force building at the National War Memorial Park in Wellington to protect the public in the event of an earthquake.
A recent assessment of the vacant General Officer-In-Command Headquarters building found it reached just 9 percent of building standards.
The New Zealand Defence Force said, in a significant earthquake, masonry could hit people on nearby footpaths.
It has applied to the Wellington City Council to put containers in place immediately.
A nearby royal navy building meets just 10 percent of building standards, but is at the back of the site and so poses less risk.