Anne Gibson

Property editor of the NZ Herald

Critics slate heritage award for 'facadism'

The Jean Batten Building. Photo / Paul Estcourt.
The Jean Batten Building. Photo / Paul Estcourt.

A heritage architecture award for the remnants of Auckland's Jean Batten Building has offended preservationists.

The Institute of Architects praised the public and Historic Places Trust for their pressure to keep the building, which it said resulted in more than the facade being kept.

But Jette de Jong, an Art Deco Society foundation member and a former president, said this was the final insult to what little was left of the building, now incorporated into the Deloitte Tower, 80 Queen St, in a $200 million development by Australian builder Brookfield Multiplex for Deloitte and the BNZ.

"Essentially, this is rewarding facadism," she said.

"It's a bit of a joke after all the work that went into trying to preserve it. It doesn't really say much for the integrity or knowledge of the institute judges. They've found what's left of the only heritage building in Auckland which hasn't been demolished."

The institute praised Warren and Mahoney, Woods Bagot and Dave Pearson Architects for the conservation project which even Property Council chief executive Connal Townsend has called facadism.

Daniel Marshall, the judging panel convener, said Jean Batten deserved the award because the architects had kept original features, the building was in danger of being demolished and its retention resulted in a much better design at 80 Queen St.

Last night, the institute announced its Auckland awards and gave less contentious prizes to Opus Architecture and Herriot + Melhuish for Newmarket Railway Station's redevelopment which "emphasised the joys of railway travel".

A group of new Waiheke Island houses also won.

Patterson Associates took the top residential prize for a "theatrical, sensuous, beautifully proportioned" house built of local multicoloured rock with rotating fins on its upper level to open it to the sea.

Mitchell & Stout Architects' Waiheke house was praised as strange and compelling, sitting in a paddock surrounded by manuka, "shifting between landscape, art and architecture".

Sumich Chaplin Architects' Waiheke house was described as a shift away from the bach, and Fearon Hay Architects' Waiheke house was praised for being very new and different.

Archoffice's new Birkenhead Library & Civic Centre was singled out for its control and manipulation of natural light and airflow and Peddle Thorp Aitken's refurbishment and extension of AMP's 21 Queen St in the CBD won a commercial award.

The Pah Homestead renovation by Matthews & Matthews Architects was praised for being gentle and honouring existing features.

Pete Bossley Architects' Voyager New Zealand Maritime Museum and a Glendowie house won awards and Malcolm Walker Architects won for the Reynolds Studio at the back of a suburban section allowing the artist to "leave home without leaving home".

Auckland Heliport also won a prize. Maxcey Architects' "James Bond-style structure" in Onehunga was praised for its lightness and precision and for being a great surprise.

NZIA AUCKLAND AWARDS:

120 entries received.

29 awards made.

Announced last night.

- NZ Herald

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