Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

ASB's 'turban top' headquarters offends councillor

It's been compared to a volcano and a meringue and now the funnel-topped ASB headquarters under construction on the Auckland waterfront has been likened to a turban.

Auckland councillor Sandra Coney is the latest person to take a potshot at the design of the $132 million building a stone's throw away from the water's edge in the Wynyard Quarter.

The environmentalist has praised the building's sustainable features, but on Facebook yesterday she said it looked like the usual big glass box.

"It looms over the lovely Red Shed, and the much vaunted 'turban' top so far lacks grace. Up close the turban tower is interesting and curvy, but from a distance it's all out of scale of everything else on the wharf edge," said Ms Coney, who owns an apartment in the nearby Viaduct Harbour.

ASB property manager Derek Shortt yesterday urged people to wait until the building was finished mid-next year, when the striking design features would complement the surrounds of Wynyard Quarter.

He said the exterior would be shielded by 5000 individual metal louvres covering the glass windows that would transform ASB North Wharf, the name given to the building.

The top of the building included a huge fibreglass funnel that formed part of a passive ventilation system and influenced the building roof form and design.

Mr Shortt said the funnel drew fresh air from the open windows, passing through the building and out through the rooftop cone. This reduced the amount of energy required to control heat and air inside.

The building totals 18,000sq m over six floors and will house up to 1950 people.

A Waterfront Auckland spokesman said the ASB building had been through a rigorous design review process, including a special urban design panel and a design technical advisory group, both of which endorsed it.

"Once onlookers see the completed structure we're sure they'll agree it's a striking building to look at," he said.

When the building was mooted in 2010, Auckland City Council development committee chairman Aaron Bhatnagar was unhappy about the appearance of the seafront tower.

"What I'm not so keen on is the volcano on the top and some of the urban design and aesthetic issues for the look and feel of the Wynyard Quarter," he said.

Herald columnist Brian Rudman lamented the original artist's impression, saying the 52m-high headquarters was topped with a "giant, meringue-shaped, seagull dropping".

Since then, the funnel has been redesigned and a glossy ASB brochure decribes the final building design as "aesthetically attractive, fusing seamlessly and harmoniously into the environment".

What do you think of the ASB building? Email newsdesk@nzherald.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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