### ODT Online Tue, 26 Feb 2013
New lease of life for BNZ building
By Debbie Porteous
A grand old dame of the Dunedin streetscape is being brought back to life by a Dunedin law firm. The historic Bank of New Zealand Building at the corner of Rattray and Princes Sts, in the Exchange, will, come June, be home to commercial law firm Van Aart Sycamore Lawyers, after the company bought the building and is having it renovated. Firm directors Michael Van Aart and Tony Sycamore said they were looking for permanent premises and the building’s location, natural light and character had appealed. Mr Sycamore said he expected the building would be “a really nice place to work”. The location was also great. Buildings around the Exchange area were filling up with commercial tenants, in what was historically the commercial heart of Dunedin. The company’s 14 staff would be based on the first floor, and once they had moved in the firm hoped to find tenants for the other three floors.
The company was strengthening the building from 67% of code to 100%, and installing full fire sprinkler systems throughout, as well as renovating and fitting out new offices, while retaining the heritage features of the building preserved by previous owner Ted Daniels.
The company was working closely with the Dunedin City Council and the New Zealand Historic Places Trust on the refurbishment.
Heritage New Zealand – Category 1 Historic Place
(No. 7299) Registration Report – the history and significance
The Bank of New Zealand Building was designed and constructed over the period 1877-1883. The architect, William Barnett Armson, was one of the first colonially-trained architects to work in New Zealand. He trained at Melbourne in architecture, engineering and surveying, and returned to New Zealand in 1862. The building is considered to be the architect’s masterpiece, and New Zealand’s finest surviving nineteenth century bank.
The bank is elsewhere described as one of the few New Zealand buildings to reflect the large scale of the sixteenth century Italian palazzo, its prototype. The richly carved exterior features New Zealand plants and landscapes carved by Louis John Godfrey. The interior was extensively modernised by the architects Mandeno and Fraser in 1958 but the superb plaster ceiling over the banking chamber was preserved.
27.7.13 Heritage: Old BNZ, Dunedin —restored
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr
*Images: BNZ Archives, Wellington (via Ted Daniels); Athol Parks, citywalks.co.nz