Aucklanders will see a new part of their city when the first stage of the Wynyard Quarter opens on Saturday. This week, the Herald features the seven public projects that form the core of the $120m development.
The Auckland Art Fair could not have found a better venue than the Viaduct Events Centre.
With its undulating, wave-like roof and imposing structural elements, the centre is a perfect fit for the 40 galleries from New Zealand and Australia which will present their works.
The art fair is the first public event to be held at the $32 million purpose events centre, described by the architect, Craig Moller, as an "elegant glass pavilion".
The centre is on the Halsey St wharf extension at the Wynyard Quarter end of a new pedestrian and cycle crossing from the Viaduct Harbour.
The Wynyard Crossing will open to the public today, providing handy access to the art fair, which runs from tomorrow until Sunday.
The Viaduct Events Centre is a premiere venue, says Mohamed Mansour, who oversees it for Regional Facilities Auckland, a council-owned body.
The centre was planned and paid for by the former Auckland City Council and is separate from six other public projects at Wynyard Quarter, controlled by another council body, Waterfront Auckland.
The first stage of the Wynyard Quarter redevelopment will be opened by Prime Minister John Key and Auckland Mayor Len Brown on Saturday.
With spectacular views of the Waitemata Harbour and back to the city and the new attractions in Wynyard Quarter, the 6000sq m Viaduct Events Centre can host up to 3600 people for big events such as the Auckland Art Fair, Fashion Week and the Auckland International Boat Show.
The main, steel-framed ground floor space rises 12m, free of columns, with half the building developed as a three-storey section with five rooms on the first floor and three on the second floor connected by a boardwalk, elevators and lifts. The rooms are of varying sizes for exhibition, conference and hospitality functions.
A five-star environmental standard has been applied to the building. It has a 50,000 litre rain water tank suspended under the roof for flushing toilets and seawater will be drawn from under the wharf to supplement heating in winter and cooling in summer.
The centre has attracted huge interest, even from SkyCity as a seafront facility for its convention business. About 120 events have been pencilled in or confirmed in the next year.
But Super City bosses are unclear what effect other waterfront venues will have on the centre after the Rugby World Cup.
It faces competition from two venues at Party Central on Queens Wharf - the $9.8 million Cloud and the refurbished century-old Shed 10.
Waterfront Auckland chief executive John Dalzell has warned of having too many waterfront venues and not enough events after the Cup, saying it would be no use having the 178m prefabricated Cloud if the Viaduct Events Centre could not be filled.
Regional Facilities Auckland chief executive John Brockies is more upbeat, saying efforts to make Auckland more of a tourist destination required more venues.