DCC + former CPO + others(??) = a public library (yeah right)

UPDATED

Yawn…there’s better uses for the building, even if a library would draw people to the (stultifying) Exchange area. The Exchange deserves to be a place of greater vitality, but a library here and not at the centre of town and not at South Dunedin… At least they’re doing feasibility. And a joint venture makes a lot of sense, this is a big building… is ORC no longer in the picture, or is it one of the collaborators – remember Mayor Chin wrote another letter recently…

### Channel 9 Online July 20, 2009 – 7:17pm
Possible Relocation Of The Moray Place Library
Mayor Peter Chin announced today the Dunedin City Council has signed a joint venture feasibility agreement to explore the possible relocation of the Moray Place Library to the old Chief Post Office building. Chin says the study, will take up to six months and will test if the building meets the library’s requirements and also evaluate possible uses for the current library building.
Video Link

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On July 16, 2009 at 7:32 am Anon said:
Tremain should have fun with the fact that we now own the old Post Office too, deal signed two days ago. Link

Upgrade Anon’s theory of a purchase to the deal mentioned at Channel 9, and look for more information in tomorrow’s ODT.

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### ODT Online Tue, 21 Jul 2009
Exchange plan for library
By David Loughrey and Rebecca Fox
The Dunedin City Council ended weeks of speculation when it confirmed yesterday it would investigate moving the Dunedin city library to the former chief post office building in the Exchange. Mayor Peter Chin announced the council had signed a joint venture feasibility agreement with building owner South Canterbury Finance to “investigate the CPO’s potential”.
Read more

### ODT Online Tue, 21 Jul 2009
Library plan welcomed in Exchange
By David Loughrey
Businesses in the Exchange in Dunedin are pleased with the idea of a having a library in their midst, expecting a resulting increase in foot traffic to bolster trade, if the plan reaches fruition.
Read more

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The former Chief Post Office…
I’ve done a computer search and find I have 160 files relating to the building – some to do with a nomination to upgrade the building’s NZHPT registration from Cat II to Cat I (dated 17/8/02). The nomination proposal received a lot of debate but in the end, and rightly, the NZHPT Board (national) declined to change the classification while the building was up for redevelopment. Nevertheless, through the exercise we produced a dossier of handy information. I had the NZHPT Otago Branch Committee commission a freelance heritage researcher, Heather Bauchop, for the work, with assistance from NZHPT’s McKay Bequest Fund. Heather is currently employed in the Dunedin office as Heritage Advisor – Registration. The following link is how the final nomination sat (in the now outdated format) for a registration upgrade…

█ Download: Dunedin CPO Nomination FINAL 17-8-02

I’m not sure if the file has changed since, but certainly nothing else has been attempted on the registration front. NZHPT’s Otago Southland Area Office at Dunedin holds the complete property file and the registration file, parts of which can be viewed at the office upon request.

Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

56 Comments

Filed under Architecture, Business, Construction, DCC, Design, Economics, Heritage, Media, Name, NZHPT, People, Project management, Property, Site, Tourism, Town planning, Urban design

56 responses to “DCC + former CPO + others(??) = a public library (yeah right)

  1. Phil

    Having our public library located in such an historic building will bring a nice atmosphere to the building. But I would question whether such a move is in the best interests of the library, or whether it’s just a timely solution to the current overcrowding issue in the Civic Centre. Which is about to be compounded further when the staff in the Municipal Chambers have to vacate their offices.

    The current library building is 30 years old. While built solely to house the library, it was not well designed to care for the specific requirements that a library building needs. Essentially it was designed as a normal office building. Ventilation and humidity control is poor, passive heat gains and losses are significant, lighting is not suitable for long term book preservation. And the biggest crime is that the jewel in the crown, the rare book storage, is located in the same area as the council car pool garage. Got to love those heavy metals.

    Relevance? Well, the CPO was also built to house people, not precious items. The cost to bring the building up to a standard suitable for the long term housing of the city heritage will be significant. You can’t just pick the shelves up, dump them into another building, and then walk away feeling quite pleased with yourself that you’ve now found a tenant to share with the ORC. In trying to retrofit an existing building to fit a very specialised role, you usually end up with second best. And with a cost not far from a new purpose built facility.

    Which leads me on to the role of the library itself. The days of a public library being merely a place to borrow books is antiquated and outdated in thinking. By world standards. All modern libraries being built today are recognised as being places of community gatherings. The educated’s football stadium if you like. (Couldn’t resist, sorry.) They are the focal point of the community. I had the pleasure of visiting a new city library recently and found that to indeed be the case. The building was the city public library, yes. But it was also the tourist information centre and visitor centre. It housed a café, bar, restaurant, dance hall, conference room, public lecture theatre, and an 1,000 seat fully equipped concert chamber. There was both indoor and outdoor seating, with people invited to, well, just come and be with other people. In effect it was a one stop shop community cultural centre. The modern day town square. The building was not even called “Public Library”, rather a “Culture House”. It was a rare pleasure to experience.

    There exists the opportunity to create something rather special with the long term future of the library. The under rated cultural hub of the city. And I’m just not convinced that the CPO (god bless her) can do this justice. I feel that the library is getting short-changed. Again. And that’s sad, for I fear there will be no further opportunities.

  2. LG

    Some good points there, although the rare books are housed in proper conditions on the third floor. Unless something has changed, it’s mostly bookbus pool stock on the same floor as the council pool garage (and maybe some newspapers?).

    The other point about retrofitting is book weight. The reason that the university had to build a new library was that the 60s version was originally intended to take extra floors, but they did a little cost cutting which meant that the weight of extra floors could not be supported. Retro-fitting such strength into the CPO seems a poor idea. While the role of libraries is changing, they’re not quite out of books yet.

    The oddest thing about the present Moray library is the way that it is arranged on so many levels. Libraries usually have bigger footprints and fewer floors. I really can’t think of another that is arranged that way and spread out over 9 floors (I guess really 8, as the tea and plant rooms don’t really count as a library floor).

  3. Phil

    Thanks for clearing that up, Elizabeth. You’re quite right in saying that the display room, McNab, is located on the 3rd floor. And that room has some climate control fitted, which operates quite well under favourable weather conditions. The majority of the really valuable items are located in the basement. Right where the bookbus loads in and out every day.

    And yes, DCC Archives in the Civic Centre lower basement is an under rated treasure trove. They enjoy the company.

  4. Richard

    Those posts set the standard and I will follow further posts with interest.

    Two things not raised. The site includes not only the CPO building but the former Edinburgh House (or before that the Customs and Bond Store) now used as a carpark. The section of Bond Street between the two was formally ‘stopped’ several years ago so and there is an existing consent that allows for a carpark building on the site.

    Subject to access being provided to any infrastructure under the road, all sorts of things could be possible to relocate the library from a complete rebuilding (or whatever) of the basement and ground floors of the former CPO building with a new extension to the EH site.

    Just lateral thinking at this stage!

  5. LG

    It’s a long time since I’ve been down there, but I think you’ll find that the book bus pool stock is right where the book bus loads. Assuming the archival material is with the newspaper, that is sandwiched between the book bus area and a plant room. My memory is getting too hazy, but the ‘divider’ between the book bus area and the LB stack may be relatively flimsy.

  6. Phil

    An excellent opportunity for lateral thinking. I think, from memory, that one can build right up to, but not actually touch, the existing facade of the CPO building. It will be interesting to see how it all pans out. It would certainly bring life back into the area once dominated by NZPO, MOW and DSW.

  7. Richard

    The capital expenditure on the present library (plus South Dunedin) is already budgetted for 3 years hence in the now confirmed Community Plan. Without looking, some $30m as I recall.

    The consent approved for the proposed carpark building on the EH site did attach it to the rear of the former CPO. The design of the building carpark went through ‘the ropes’ that Elizabeth is familar with and would not, I think, need altering. Depends on where they provide access for the book buses, a real and increasing problem with the present situation at Moray Place.

    The Moray Place building is essentially a strengthened office building so there are really no problems in finding a new use for it. And no, I do not think there is any suggestion that council itself would use it although, at one recent point, there was a suggestion to house the call centre on the top floor so as to free up space on the plaza level for ‘a one stop shop’.

    Is the DCC capable of lateral thinking? Well Elizabeth as an ‘inanimate’ corporate entity, the answer is NO but as a sum of its parts, absolutely YES.

    This idea, in fact, owes a good deal to some lateral thinking and talking between elected members and key staff.

    And the stadium itself aside, I would like to think that the future of Carisbrook – the acquisition itself put aside – will also involve some lateral thinking. Indeed in the context of South Dunedin, it has to.

    Overall what is starting to happen – and what you are seeing – is the remergence of the role of elected members in initiating and/or working in partnership with staff on strategic issues. This has been my prime focus since assuming the chair of Finance and Strategy but remedying the neglect of six years takes – as they say – “a long time”.

  8. Richard

    Now that last line should be, of course: TAKES TIME.

    Say “cheese”.

  9. LG

    IIRC correctly, the current bookbuses had to be a custom built to fit into the space that was tailored to their predecessors. Backing them in is a bit of an art form as well. In fact that whole area is a bit of a tetris style arrangement.

  10. Phil

    I might well be proven wrong in this, but I had the feeling that the section of Bond Street immediately behind the CPO was formally stopped prior to 2000. By the former City Engineers department. At least, that was the plan.

  11. Phil

    I recall seeing some preliminary designs for a car park building on the old Edinburgh House site. Back in the late 90s. Incidentally, I used to park my pushbike in the basement of then abandoned Edinburgh House. As a struggling government cadet in the early 80s. Bit of useless trivia there.

    Anyway, the design included for a roof over Bond Street to allow for hotel buses to pull in, and a rooftop covered walkbridge connecting the car park with the CPO. Somewhere around the 3rd floor. The entire structure stopped just short of the CPO facade, due to the historical classification restrictions. Again, I think this design was generated by the former City Engineers.

  12. Richard

    Elizabeth: the consent you refer to relates to the proposal to add a an 8th floor. If my recall is correct, the design of the carpark building and how it related to the former CPO, was dealt with at the earlier hearing to which you refer. There were two plans in contention as I recall it.

    Phil: The former City Engineer’s Department or any other department (as Property unwittingly tried to do a couple of years or so ago with a piece of road behind what is now Mitre 10) cannot stop a road. It must follow a formal process under either the LGA (as this one was) or the Public Works Act. But I think you are right re the timing. Anyway, it is ‘stopped’ and can be closed to traffic at any time with, I assume, a public notice. The ‘wu-ing’ continues!

    Cheers!

  13. Phil

    Ah ha. Learn something new every day. I recall a discussion with the chief surveyor at the time about preparing documents for the road stopping. But wasn’t sure how it all played out.

    I know this thread is not stadium related, but it’s been a welcome relief and I’ve enjoyed everything that’s come out of it. Good constructive knowledge sharing.

  14. Richard

    I agree! Just like it was on the stadium some eight/nine months ago when I first ‘discovered’ the site. Indeed it was the only place where there was (mostly) a rational exchange of views from both sides of the debate! But, I have said that before!

    I look forward to Paul’s planned new threads and subjects in regard to the future of the city.

  15. Rosemary

    The Hocken Library made a nice transfer to the the cheese factory because cheese, like book-stacks, require strong foundations. The Tim Heath library has unnecessarily strong foundations for an office block and so moving the library out of that building involves some loss.

    Nonetheless, I favour the councils, ORC & DCC finding a way of using the old Post office. While I’d have preferred the BNZ banking chamber as a main reading room for a library, I can see that the PO’s foyer would make rather a fine one as well.

    So are the PO’s foundations sufficient for a book-stack? The city proposes using the basement, with Cr RW suggesting that the area could be renewed or strengthened in some way, which may obviate the question. And it may have been that the foundations are already stronger than required by a conventional office block because the PO may have required them. There is a Russell Clark cartoon (again in the Hocken) of people watching the foundations being dug… and being dug deeper… and being dug deeper yet… which suggests this might be the case. Does anyone know at this stage?

  16. Richard

    I have heard several times from people who should know that a large number of “gum” piles were driven for a ‘floating slab foundation’ (much like the Railway Station?) and recall that a survey was done for George Wu before he purchased the building. Indeed he came to me at the time (when I was Mayor) in regard to the records etc the DCC held. He subsequently told me and/or Murray Douglas that things had checked out ok or words to that effect. I am certain George would not have finalised without confirmation that everything was okay. Nor do I imagine would have the next two owners!

    When the DCC did the restoration on the Railway Station, the gum piles under that were found to be sound (indeed, I recall Dave Mckenzie saying “they were as good as the day they were put in”) – only one had to be “capped” to bring it level with the others. Now, I am no expert but it seems gum trees are good for something!

  17. Richard

    Rosemary: I am not in a position to check the brass plate at the moment but I thought the late Bill Hesson designed the present main library?

    Whatever the foundations certainly seem strong but then so are those for the Civic Centre as was found when they took the two of the three lift shafts down to basement level. The clay had to be jackhammered out and some interesting discoveries were made, e.g. crossbeams not on the plans and a running stream!

  18. Richard

    PS: The lift shaft work referred to was (I think) done around 1992-93. Until then only the middle lift went to the basement, the other two stopped at LG in what was the old DCC Electricity Department Showroom!

    I remember Bill Christie telling me that all were originally supposed to go to the basement level and that they did not do so was a budget measure which saved about $30,000. Something that Mike Guest also recalls – he was on the Building Committee. 13/14 years later, the Electricity Showroom has gone, the basement is the focal point for the carpool and the left shafts are extended ….. at a cost of (I think) about $380,000!

  19. Rosemary

    Richard: Bill Hesson/Tim Heath? Perhaps Bill Hesson was the city architect at the time & Tim the employee who did the work? But you may be right.

    Elizabeth: if the city & ORC acquired the PO, what use do you see the city making of it if not the library? Since the PO was built as an office building, chances are that office re-use would be most rational, but moving the city’s offices to the PO might isolate the Municipal Chambers. Your thoughts?

  20. Phil

    The restoration work at the Railway Station some years back included for the laying of a new prestressed concrete floor under the old Valentine’s restaurant area. I think. Floating foundations work on the theory that the weight of the structure equals the weight of the earth removed. It’s ideal in weak soil areas, or earthquake prone areas. Of course sometimes you have to dig a LOT of dirt out if you’re building a heavy building. To get the weight ratio right. One of the most prominent buildings to use this technique is the BNZ building on the corner of Willis Street and Lampton Quay in Wellington.

    I recall my early days as an NZPO engineer sharing the floor in the CPO with the toll operators. The memory has dimmed a bit since then, but I would say there would be between 80 and 100 people on that floor. Pretty much the same on all 7+ floors. Coupled with the large mail handling areas on the ground and basement floors, I would be surprised if there are any structural or weight bearing issues with the CPO. Unless it’s maybe popped up a little after a few years of no pie eating posties.

  21. LG

    @Phil. Books are notoriously heavy. On a trip through the Carter Observatory, they made a point of describing the floor under the ‘library’, which is not a particularly big space. That said, the building may be solid enough, but I’d be suprised about the floors. From memory, the Carter Observatory floors where 30cm thick concrete, heavily reinforced, for what was perhaps a living room size space of books.

    And Richard appears correct. City Architect assisted by Tim Heath
    http://www.architecture-archive.auckland.ac.nz/docs/block-digital/2008-10-Block-Digital-DoCoMoMo-Map.pdf
    (link recommended). Now I’d just like to know who designed the hospital ward block.

    My 2c. I’d also prefer mixed use and not library. While it was office space, the ambience I assume it offers is now potentially more valuable for other things.

  22. LG

    Still on the flooring thing, found this on building a replacement library. They want a floor that will take 150 psf (presumably pounds per square foot), and their current building (a former school) is designed with only 40 psf in mind.
    http://www.ci.big-rapids.mi.us/minutes/Library/FAQ_Library_Proposal.pdf
    And then when you move into stack areas with overheight rolling shelf stock with only room for a single aisle, that’s some serious weight.

    There is nice info here on re-using old buildings with specific mention of libraries and museums, noting that lesser loading is required for reading rooms BUT that localised reinforcement might be needed under shelves.
    http://www.ihbc.org.uk/context_archive/70/floorloadings/floor.html

  23. LG

    Thanks Elizabeth. I thought you might have the answer at your fingertips. I see that that firm was responsible for not just the ward block, but the Clinical Services Building, the boilerhouse, and indeed a rather more recent upgrade of the power supply. I had wondered whether the ward block might have had a link to some of the campus buildings, but apparently not.

    Sort of on this topic, I now realise that I have worked in two Tim Heath designed buildings, but I don’t think that I would have picked the links between the different eras.

  24. Phil

    150psf ? That’s two fat ponies, foxtrotting together, on a 1 metre square mat. There’s a vision.

  25. Richard

    Rosemary/LG: some more lateral thinking may take us there. And why not?

  26. Elizabeth

    I’ve updated the original post (20 July) with more information on the former Chief Post Office building – https://dunedinstadium.wordpress.com/2009/07/20/dcc-former-cpo-others-a-public-libary-yeah-right/

    There you can download a Word doc to read the unsuccessful (2002) NZHPT nomination proposal to upgrade the building classification from a Category II Historic Place to Category I.

  27. Richard

    Phil: well you must have been working in the old CPO with the likes of my old friend Ken Ward who went on to work in the Solomons (putting in a whole telephone network – when he went there, I think there was one phone line from the wharf to the Governor’s office) and later to Cable and Wireless in London for whom he travelled to some interesting places before his premature death at 57.

    Anyway, when I started work with Gollin as an import clerk in 1957, I was in and out of the CPO sometimes two or three times a day – mainly to the Customs Long Room. P&T were there, of course, Customs Parcels was in the basement and there must have been 100’s working in the building?

    And the Chief Postmaster was a person of standing in the community!

    I have also seen photographs of the CPO site when it was excavated for building to commence. The early ones show the site full of water and apparently it had to be pumped out every day. (Water Street is well named)!

    The foundation work must have been quite a feat for its day but the construction company presumably drew on the experience of what was needed for the Express Company (now Consultancy House), NZ’s first ‘skyscraper’. Even so, I vividly recall water being regularly pumped out from the basement of that building for many years so it must have had a sump somewhere. It was not in the volume that flows in Broadway from the pump in the old Paterson & Barr/Smiths City building on High Street but it was always noticeable. May still occur for all I know!

    Whether the former CPO has a sump and pump, I do not know but we are obviously going to find out!

  28. Rosemary

    Water is somewhat inimical to a library stack!

  29. Phil

    The name doesn’t ring a bell with me right now, Richard. But there were a number of my colleagues who headed off to the Solomons, Papua New Guinea etc to work on new telecommunications installations there. A very lucrative business at the time. And exciting from all accounts.

    Given the location, I would ASSUME that there was an ongoing need to remove water from the bowels of the CPO. Natural fall drainage is unlikely. It must have functioned well though, given where all the mail was located. In my 7 years in the building, I never heard of any moisture issues. But then, being located on the 6th floor helped.

    I recall, and this may no longer be the case, that one can still see the original boat tie up points on the stone wall in the old John Edmonds car park building in Bond Street.

    A significant problem with the current Moray Place library building is its height and the large areas of north facing glazing. The passive heat gains and losses are quite incredible even with the overhanging eaves. Coupled with the huge expanses of concrete, with no thermal breaks. There are no buildings of equal height to the north to offer shading, leaving the building totally exposed to the elements. Relative humidity changes are large, and rapid. Which is the greatest enemy of paper. The existing building mechanical ventilation system is unable to combat this effectively without major cost upgrades.

    Ironically, moving to a well designed historic building that was constructed BEFORE mechanical ventilation system, may be actually help the library collection. With no mechanical systems, the building shell itself had to act for heating, cooling, and humidity control. Glazed areas were smaller, window frames deeper, and walls thicker. A mechanical system is then only required to fine tune the internal environment, rather than having to fight off Mother Nature 24/7. We all know who wins that battle. The key is to create a stable environment inside the building, less susceptible to daily weather variances. Which is where the current building falls down.

    A really good example is on the 3rd floor of the current library building, where all the existing north facing windows in one area have been covered with insulated refrigeration panels. The temperature and humidity fluctuations in that area, which had been the worst in the building, decreased immediately. Without the need for an expensive upgrade to any of the mechanical systems. Which had been the original plan. So no additional ongoing maintenance or energy costs. Showing how effective a good passive building design can be. And what unique considerations a library building must have.

  30. Phil

    I thought that I saw William’s name mentioned in dispatches with regard to the current Settlers Museum upgrade project. Not a man to mince his words.

  31. Richard

    That’s interesting comment Phil in regard to the the conditions etc in both buildings. I’ll send it on to Robert Clark just in case he does not pick it up from anywhere else.

    Yes William Cockerill is involved with the Settlers redevelopment and also with the proposed redevelopment of the MP building which this MAY supplant. William earns and inspires confidence and he is also a man who puts words into action as evidenced by his National Bank project.

    Now, I have some ideas for using the rest of the building – as indeed hinted in my response to Rosemary – but, one thing at a time!

  32. Rosemary

    William Cockerill was involved with the new University Library and the Hocken Library’s move to the cheese factory. He has experience of the needs of libraries.

    Richard – I’ve read through your posts and can see no hints at all regarding uses of the rest of the CPO. Please, hint again.

  33. Richard

    Richard:
    July 23, 2009 at 3:14 am
    Rosemary/LG: some more lateral thinking may take us there. And why not?

  34. LG

    Richard – Is your point that they might be able to make it work? I’m not doubting that they might be able to, just that it might be a challenge.

    Ian Athfield’s Palmerston North Library is a case in point. Although I’m not sure how much of the original fabric was retained in the structure. It is a nice example of a multi-modal modern library
    http://www.teara.govt.nz/Places/ManawatuAndHorowhenua/ManawatuAndHorowhenua/14/ENZ-Resources/Standard/4/mi

  35. LG

    The other thought that occurs to me is that relatively speaking, the public library has a relatively small volume of books. And in the current location, the greatest book (and weight) density is in the basement levels, and by the time you’re up a couple of floors, there is relatively fewer books and less weight. A modern library is largely about reading/multi-use space, so if they can get enough books tucked into the basement, then that is a great advantage.

    Thinking of re-using buildings, the new university library re-used the reinforced floors of the old university library, and in fact the areas where the book weight is greatest is largely still on that floor. The reading spaces and voids are largely where the old library wasn’t. Clever planning might see similar solutions for the CPO.

  36. Richard

    My recollection is that the OCTA proposal for the redvelopment of the present library had off site storage for less accessed books. Have to also record that William and his OCTA team presented some very imaginative ideas including conversion of the present carpark and a new main entrance through the basement to George Street about where the escalators now are. That was five years ago, of course, and why the capital funding is included in the current LTCCP.

    Now, of course, we may have something much better rather than trying to readapt a building which has many limitations for use as a library.

    The same could be said of the Civic Centre. The thinking that a a passageway lined with small retail shops leading to the library via the plaza would bring multitudes of customers to those shops was never going to work (and it hasn’t) just as a library in South Dunedin will not bring significant numbers to King Edward Street or lead to the overall needed redevelopment of South Dunedin and Caversham. The ‘picture’ is IMAX, not fullscreen in in the former incarnation of The Mayfair!

    But that’s for another time!

  37. Richard

    I do not recall Ted claiming as “his idea” cutting through to the Muncipal Chambers. He just put “pen to paper”, did some “legwork” and his reputation and quiet spoken presentation was persuasive with councillors.

    Norman and I had conversed earlier (I remember being nervous about the foundations and the strength of the rear wall of the Chambers – it will need strengthening), so did you, of course. As you previously posted, you probably did not realise the lead you had given me to having the peer review etc, You are not alone in that. My school teachers first ‘cottoned-on’ to the fact that I am apparently one of those unusual “who takes it all in without appearing to do so.” Or something like that! I always managed to surprise them until I struck algebra!

    Lawson did not really envisage cutting through. He saw the Chambers and the TH as one hence the spaces on the indicated levels thatare still evident today. Chamber’s portarit hands in one.

    The basic problem with the ‘integrated flow’ of the complex – as it now is – goes back, of course, to the Armstrong/Shirley proposal (was Bill H involved at that stage?) for the original three tower complex proposed for the site. When the MC was retained, that changed – and I had a wee role in that – the 3 building idea stayed (the MC/TH + admin + library but, as you say, were never integrated properly with obvious budgeting limits resulting in what we have. That reflected the circumstances at the time and I do not blame anyone for that, Council just had to do something to house its administrative arm which was spread all around Moray Place etc.

    Over the years, it has been suggested many times that the two buildings would easily convert well to …. a hotel ….. although in my early days as Mayor, I did not think that was ‘a runner’. Originally it was the idea of an elderly, rather dapper gentleman (ex UK, I think),who used to drive quite slowly around town a lot in his ‘Morris’ (?) and write rather humorous and often pointed (brief) letters to the ODT about council and the city and sometimes about me. We were always on good terms and spoke often. I even found him one day measuring up the Civic Centre Plaza with a tape to persuade me/council to turn it into a hotel. He died suddenly about 1992-93, I cannot recall his name offhand but remember him as one of those characters who make life interesting!

  38. LG

    Some interesting comments, especially re punching through the civic centre to get to the present library building. It is, I think, one of the strengths of the campus master-planning that they are incorporating a strong psychology of space into their thinking. It is possible to have a great piece of design, but have it not work for people.

    On that note, I think one of the weakness of Wall St is that the two shops on George St have such long internal frontages. Taro Cash and Levis both stretch well back. And I think this makes the internal space less enticing as a result. In contrast, on the Meridian threshold, the mall appears to open up with a broad range of shops in sight. I think the Golden Centre link will resolve this issue a little, but it makes Wall St a little reminiscent of an updated Harvest Court. It’s more of a corridor into a space, than an enticing entranceway.

    And back on books — the renovations that eventually accompanied the restructuring of the library in 1998/1999 opened up the stack areas on the first and second floors, and moved to an open stack on the second floor. I’m not sure quite how this was accomplished — they took three stack spaces, incorporated two into the main collection, and then left the third as an open stack (plus a very much smaller closed stack for high risk items). So I’m not sure whether this meant there are fewer books, or whether more books are incorporated into the main collection and fewer in the stack. The car repair manuals would be an example of books that moved from a closed stack to the main collection (albeit adjacent to the reference desk).

    The university libraries have gone heavily into an off-site model with the Leith lending buildings, but obviously a greater proportion of university library users are ‘power users’ for want of a better term.

    And my final comment for now. I’m not actually sure that the total footprint for the current library is actually that big. Each successive floor gets smaller, and in some cases quite a lot smaller. And by the time you count out the stairwells, balconies and liftspaces, I don’t actually get the impression that it’s that much space. Even in the basement levels, it’s mostly carpark. The balcony spaces are tragically under-used (wasn’t exactly ideal storage space for The Wrestlers). Perhaps in a re-use a couple of floors of apartments might not go astray!

  39. Richard

    LG – you have overlooked those ‘strange’ open spaces that adjoin the lower levels, are never used for anything other than hosting rather large crops of ‘grass’. Why, no-one seems to know.

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