Nicholas Jones

Nicholas Jones is the New Zealand Herald’s education reporter.

New building a milestone for university

AUT's $98m precinct provides central focus for rapidly growing educational facility.

AUT vice-chancellor Derek McCormack (left) and architect Richard Harris in the building's atrium. Photo / Natalie Slade
AUT vice-chancellor Derek McCormack (left) and architect Richard Harris in the building's atrium. Photo / Natalie Slade

One of Auckland's major universities will today open a new building which has transformed its campus and significantly altered the city's learning quarter.

Auckland University of Technology's new precinct, the Sir Paul Reeves Building on Mayoral Drive, will be officially opened by Prime Minister John Key this afternoon.

Vice-chancellor Derek McCormak, speaking as he gave the Herald a tour of the new building, which was named after former AUT Chancellor the late Sir Paul Reeves, said it was a huge moment in the development of the campus.

"AUT has been the fastest growing university in the country. There have been big challenges. And we are only on the way, this is a milestone in a long process."

The $98 million building is the latest in a line of major building projects since AUT gained university status in 2000. Many of those projects, such as the business building, completed in 2005, had suffered from being slightly isolated.

They have now been linked by the 12-storey Sir Paul Reeves building, which is in the middle of the university's main buildings.

Governor Fitzroy Place road, which ran between the Sir Paul Reeves building site and the business building, has been paved over and made into a pedestrian space, effectively creating a new quad and entranceway to the university.

In yesterday afternoon's heat, the glass walls facing that area had been rolled back, and students strolled through the building's atrium and out on to the grassed area facing Wellesley St East.

Richard Harris of Jasmax architects, which designed the building, said as well as linking the campus, a key brief had been creating an effective learning environment.

For today's students, that meant space to work and collaborate in groups. A lecture theatre on ground level has two rows of seats on each level, which can be swivelled around to face each other for times when the lecturer wants discussions to take place.

Walkways are areas between lecture theatres and rooms are dotted with groups of students using brightly coloured moveable couches, seats and low tables: There are more than 500 seats outside of lecture theatres and rooms.

Other areas have booths - not unlike in a bar or restaurant - with plasma screens (120 throughout the building) on the wall end, which students can hook laptops up to to discuss video and images.

The building includes large open spaces for university and public events, as well as state-of-the-art screen and television studios, a motion capture, sound and performance studios, and a light-bulb lined dressing room.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf01 at 26 Nov 2014 10:28:00 Processing Time: 493ms