Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

AUT expansion gets ready to graduate

The $100 million building will open next year. Photo /Richard Robinson
The $100 million building will open next year. Photo /Richard Robinson

Fletcher Construction will hand over a new $100 million building to AUT University later this year.

The 12-level building, now up in the heart of Auckland CBD on the university's city campus, is being developed principally for the Faculty of Design and Creative Technologies which has schools of art and design, communication studies, computing and mathematical sciences, engineering and the interdisciplinary unit creative technologies. But other faculties will use it too.

AUT has 26,243 students: 18,518 fulltime, with about 5000 on the North Shore and 1000 in Manukau.

Deputy vice-chancellor Rob Allen said two big lecture theatres in the new precinct could be used by other faculties and banks of seats in one would be able turn to enable students to break out into groups.

"The television studio is three levels high, equal to any TV studio in New Zealand," he said. "We've built flexible spaces because lots of things are changing and we don't quite know how that will evolve at this stage.

We've watched people build things and 10 years later, they're out of date. The media industry, for example, is changing a lot with crossovers between TV, radio journalism and public relations and people move across those boundaries so we've designed the media centre that will allow people to see the range of activities they could be involved in."

Visits to Australian and the United States university campus sites enlightened those behind the new precinct about new learning spaces, he said.

The main structure of the new block is up, the roof shout has been held and structural work is nearing completion. Around November, the university will take over the building and begin fitting it out ready for operation in February. Lecture theatres to seat up to 380 people and new facilities to show students how to work in radio and television broadcasting will be available from the start of the first semester.

Aimee Driscoll, AUT corporate affairs directors, said the precinct was a big step forward for the university's real estate needs.

Allen said many students would vacate AUT Tower opposite Aotea Square, a commercial office block which the university would continue to lease in the meantime for language, computing and social science students.

The redevelopment aimed to achieve better internal flow and allow people to move around the campus easier, without having to use surrounding street areas. The fast-growing university says the new block will become its new "front door" because it will be a major gateway to the city campus.

Television and performance studios, lecture theatres, informal study areas, cafe and an outdoor plaza would all add considerably to amenities on the city campus.

The precinct, designed by Jasmax, is on the corner of Mayoral Drive and Governor Fitzroy Place.

It provides an additional 20,000sq m of teaching and student facilities which will have the effect of increasing the campus by 25 per cent. Lobbies and break-out spaces are designed to be collaborative or social study areas and a range of furniture types have been chosen to cater for new and different ways of learning.

Allen said the project was a new precinct to link AUT's Mayoral Drive frontage to the Faculty of Business and Law building and the tourism and hospitality building. Governor Fitzroy Place will primarily become a pedestrian area with an open public plaza. The precinct will have a screen and television studio, motion capture and chroma key studio, performance studio, radio station, sound and edit suites, digital media computer labs, and a new media centre.

The media centre will bring all communication studies programmes under one roof for the first time, encompassing advertising, digital media, journalism, public relations, radio and television.

AUT says the curriculum for the school of communication studies will be modified from next year.

NEW PRECINCT

Level 1: Loading dock and workshop, with some additional space for services.

Level 1.5: Entrance to Mayoral Drive, glass-walled lecture theatre, collaborated social learning space, lobby area, reception/exhibition space.

Level 2: Large forum with access to WA conference room (and the remainder of WA Level 2), screen, performance, digital media, and audio studios.

Level 3: Access to Governor Fitzroy Place, entry to AUT's largest lecture theatre (380 students), lobby, collaborative social learning spaces, radio station studio, student kitchen, public cafe, studios.

Level 4: Entry to the large lecture theatre, collaborative social learning spaces, bridge access to WA Level 4 (library), case room, a green quad.

Level 5: Media centre, multiple collaborative social learning spaces.

Levels 6-11: Teaching, classrooms.

Level 12: Office space.

Source: AUT

- NZ Herald

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