Tag Archives: Glass boxes

Proposed 100m hotel: Damn right, the fight’s not over! #Dunedin

Great to see the letter by award-winning architect Richard Shackleton given prominence in the ODT today. It sent me hunting for my copy of Paul Goldberger’s book, The Skyscraper (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1982), bought in second professional year (BArch) at Auckland. Given what has happened since to skyscraper design internationally, the book is a little quaint, eclectic and short of stature – it will always be a useful commentary on the emergence and history of towers in the United States.

Most of the buildings Goldberger cites I visited on architectural study tour with a group of staff, students and friends of the Auckland School in 1984, at the start of my four-year fulltime Master of Architecture degree (thesis only). But that’s quite another rainy day story of ‘commercial facades’.

Goldberger begins his last chapter, ‘Beyond the Box’, saying:
“By 1980, one thing was clear: the box, the rationalist dream of the International Style [the austere glass box, his words], was making more and more architects uncomfortable. Not only was it no longer the clean and exhilarating structure that would serve as a clarion call to a new age, but it was not even able to hold out much promise of practicality. It was generally inefficient from the standpoint of energy, and it was not as marketable from the viewpoint of real estate operators either.”

41 Wharf Street, Dunedin
For the applicant (Betterways Advisory Ltd), architect Jeremy Whelan of Ignite Architects (Auckland) is assisting Shanghai-based ECADI (Eastern China Architectural Design Institute), who were initially engaged by the client, with the conceptual design of the proposed hotel. It is claimed in Whelan’s brief of evidence that ECADI has significant international hotel experience and has completed projects for all major 5 star brand operators including Kempinski Hotels, Four Seasons Hotels, Marriot Hotels, Ritz Carlton Hotels and the Intercontinental Hotel Group.

The design of the 27-storey hotel tower crassly proposed for one of Dunedin’s best waterfront sites is the likes of which Goldberger correctly identifies as ‘tired’ by 1980 – at the time of writing, he hadn’t yet considered Arquitectonica’s work at Miami, Florida (see the landmark 20-storey luxury Atlantis condominiums built in 1982, famous for their cutout) – but Whelan certainly had, as a BArch contemporary of mine at Auckland School, and that building too is ‘tired’ as architectural metaphors and shared language go.

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ODT 3.1.13 Letter to the editor p12

ODT 3.1.13 Letter R Shackleton (1)

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Posted by Elizabeth Kerr

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