Today DCC and its project team presented the “new proposal” for the Dunedin Centre’s redevelopment to stakeholders and interested people at the Glenroy Auditorium.
In previous days I’d heard very positive murmurs about the design. Indeed, today’s reaction to the plans was almost uniformly positive. Councillors have received the same presentation.
Channel 9 news coverage speaks to the main drivers of the project.
### Channel 9 Online July 1, 2009 – 6:42pm
Town Hall Redevelopment Plans Announced Today
Official plans for the redevelopment of the Town Hall were announced today by the Dunedin City Council.
The redevelopment will ensure the old Town Hall building meets contemporary user needs and compliance requirements, as well as protecting heritage values throughout.
The changes are predominantly to the building interior, improving wayfinding and incorporating several level changes between the Town Hall building, which incorporates the Glenroy, and the Municipal Chambers.
A “glass cube” entranceway that only lightly touches the Town Hall’s classical façade to Moray Place is a new addition, one which allows an uncluttered reading of the old building’s scale and detail.
A new square is created on Moray Place, serving as a gathering and flow space for events attracting large crowds of between 3,000 – 4,000 people, such as graduations and rock concerts.
The Glenroy will be gutted to create a new multipurpose hall and conference facility. According to the independent business plan, conference use will help fund community function of the building.
Harrop St (to be incorporated into the square) will be closed to through traffic, to provide an access way for pedestrians and service vehicles. This to my mind is a reasonable compromise, ensuring the District Plan’s protection of the vista is upheld. Landscaping of the square will include stair access to St Paul’s Cathedral gardens, independently due to undergo new landscaping work.
The $45 million Town Hall project goes to Council for approval next week. It is hoped that construction will begin at the end of this year.
The project will be staged to work around user bookings and the continuing operation of the Dunedin Visitor Centre* on the ground floor of the Municipal Chambers. Closure of the Glenroy during gutting and construction will be necessary; as will closure of the Town Hall during programmed upgrades. The council indicated datelines for these today.
*The Visitor Centre will be moved temporarily; the Metro will be closed for about four months, and then intermittently. The council’s property department would have to shift from the Municipal Chambers to the Civic Centre permanently.
The proposed plans will result in a strong, contemporary architectural solution that successfully complements the existing building.
We couldn’t hope for more. The budget is tight and the design brief is manifestly tough – the internal solution is unbelievably complex, but has the right firms, Opus Architecture and Octa Asscociates, to deliver on the programmes.
Opus architect Jeff Thompson correctly identifies the project as an “urban design problem”. He has been working alongside architect Eqo Leung from Opus Architecture in Auckland.
I maintain we really need some new “design edge” in central Dunedin, the conceptual designs for Moray Place and Harrop St ‘square’ achieve this. Thanks to both architects for their innovation. I look forward to seeing the developed design if today’s presentation is any indication.
One of the most pleasing aspects of this project has been the consultation process as it evolved through 2008 and leading up to and including today, in no small part due to the facilitation process guided by Dunedin consultant Liz Rowe. Some real “listening” to public concern has informed directions and architectural solutions, admirably.
The contrast between this project and the handling of the stadium project, in terms of meaningful and respectful consultation process can be summed up as WORLDS APART.
The Dunedin Centre Redevelopment project exemplifies the way forward for local authority consultation processes; the maintenance of loyalty and respect between the council, stakeholders and interested parties should be celebrated.
It’s not a speedy process, deliberations can be lengthy and protracted – nevertheless, keeping the faith can deliver great results and significant architecture projects.
I turned up to the presentation with an open mind, having had a short email exchange with art historian Peter Entwisle last week.
Peter isn’t easily convinced about the use of contemporary glazing in making new additions to heritage buildings…and would prefer that the original detail of the Harrop Street façade is restored to remove picture windows that were added in the 1980s.
I replied that under the ICOMOS Charter of New Zealand the use of glass is acceptable but it obviously depends on how it is used. I said there could be a cost issue in seeking the restoration of the Harrop Street façade within the current project budget, and suggested this could be staged in at a later date… We left it there and looked forward to the presentation.
Not surprisingly, Peter raised these matters with the project team today. His could be a lone voice on the matter of using glass, I suspect. It will be interesting to gauge wider public reaction in the next few days. Peter may have supporters. No doubt he will use his fortnightly newspaper column or other media comment to underline his views. I noticed Radio New Zealand gave him some recording time today… [but this didn't go to air]
As it turned out, retired architect Ted McCoy, with whom I don’t always agree on design matters, echoed in greater detail my congratulatory comments to the project architects today.
Hands off Harrop president Judith Medlicott also offered her congratulations to the project team.
I’d say the project team has cracked it. I hope the councillors will sign this through with no regrets. The budget has been held in the council’s annual plans for last year and this.
Posted by Elizabeth Kerr