The Herald continues a series in which prominent Aucklanders from different backgrounds nominate their favourite buildings built since 2000.

"Good urban design is not necessarily good architecture. I haven't nominated this for its architecture alone," says urban designer Ludo Campbell-Reid.

"I have nominated it because its sum of the parts is greater than the whole and that is where urban design is important - the pieces of the jigsaw fit together to create something.

"The building for me is out of the ordinary for Auckland and that is what has caught my attention. It is a total urban design project where every facet is excellent.

"It raises the benchmark for Auckland and is a standard-bearer for the city. It encapsulates great landscape, great architecture, great programme and a strong client.

"What is also interesting is the story it is trying to tell. It delivers a micro and macro piece of the city. The micro level is what it does at the street level. This one jumps out, but it jumps out at the back. Whereas at the front on the street level it delivers a great urban public realm and creates active frontages ... it looks better from the back. Normally buildings look awful from the rear.

"What Ironbank will do is start to heal the streets behind Karangahape Rd into an edgy, gritty and slick kind of precinct.

"It's like surgery. The waterfront is open-heart surgery. This is reconstructive surgery. You have got a historical heritage precinct and this building has cleverly inserted itself in an appropriate way. It is almost starting to heal and bring back to life K Rd, one of the most iconic streets in New Zealand."


Ludo Campbell-Reid is Auckland City's first "urban design champion". The Englishman arrived in Auckland in 2006, determined to make urban design a key part of planning in a city with a history of shonky development and bad architecture. Coming from London ablaze with urban design thinking was a huge shock. He went to buy train tickets to travel into the city, but had to make do with a taxi ride through the suburbs. In 2008, Campbell-Reid made his first public stand by labelling as "alien" plans for a 21-storey hotel towering over the heritage Britomart precinct.

He lives in Devonport with his wife, Jo, and two children.

* The Ironbank retail office building in Karangahape Rd. Designed by RTA Studio for Sampson Corporation, it made it to the shortlist of the World Architecture Festival, which drew hundreds of entries, and was highly commended.

* The 4500sq m Ironbank building has also won RTA Studio an Institute of Architects' Auckland area prize.

* The building has robots stacking cars on a four-level wall, sophisticated environmental features and no air-conditioning. It was completed last year.