Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Council's wrecking ball hangs over Civic Building

The Civic Building. Photo / Janna Dixon
The Civic Building. Photo / Janna Dixon

The pro-heritage Auckland Council may swing the wrecking ball on its Civic Building, described as one of the country's finest modernist buildings.

The council is undecided what to do with the Civic Building after announcing yesterday it had paid $104 million for the 31-storey ASB Bank Centre at 135 Albert St for its new headquarters.

The 22-year-old ASB building will begin to house about 2400 council staff from the end of next year when the ASB moves to a new $132 million funnel-topped building at Wynyard Quarter.

Council chief executive Doug McKay said it could buy and operate the Albert St site for $2.7 million a year over the next 10 years less than it costs to maintain its current mix of rented and owned city accommodation.

He said it would produce significant savings for ratepayers over the next 20 years - although the Herald understands councillors narrowly voted to approve the purchase last December.

The council has staff spread around seven central locations, some of which are rented. It also plans to move out of its Takapuna premises which are leased until 2022.

The ASB Bank Centre is located on the corner of Albert and Wellesley Sts, where an underground station is planned along the inner city rail loop.

However, the move has left the council with the headache of what to do with the Civic Building on Greys Ave.

The building housed 450 staff and the $93 million cost of refurbishing the building, which contains asbestos, was not economic for the council, Mr McKay said.

He said demolition was an option. The building was not a listed building but had architectural merit.

Architect Julia Gatley has said the Civic Building, designed in the 1950s and the city's tallest building at 19 storeys when it opened in 1966, was a beautifully proportioned, slender building that encapsulated modernism.

The building is listed in Dr Gatley's 2008 book, Long Live the Modern: New Zealand's New Architecture 1904-1984, written to raise public awareness and appreciation of modern architecture to be recognised as heritage.

ON THE MOVE
* Council pays $104m for ASB Bank building.
* ASB moving next year to Wynyard Quarter.
* 2400 council staff to shift from seven city locations.
* Future of Civic Building in doubt.

- NZ Herald

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