Tons of materials are being salvaged from the old Harbour Board building and will be recycled in the new Hundertwasser building at the Town Basin.
Deconstruction work started this week and slabs of concrete and bricks were being transported to the nearby Old Army Drill Hall on Walton St, which is the Hundertwasser project's recycling centre.
Whangārei-based Trigg Construction is the lead contractor for the 27-month project that will receive $10 million from the Government's Provincial Growth Fund.
Whangārei Art Museum Trust chairman Grant Faber said fences were up on part of the Canopy Bridge carpark last month while builders set up offices and secured site access.
"We're now into the visible part of the deconstruction process that involves removing quality salvageable materials from a reasonably old corner of the old Harbour Board building."
He said bricks and other building materials were being taken to army hall to be cleaned and recycled as much as possible.
Faber said the deconstruction would take a few weeks before the site was cleared down to dirt level.
The next stage would be to install concrete piles 30m in the ground and Faber said that process was likely to start before the end of this year.
"We're waiting for geotechnical reports that will determine the schedule of works but we're happy with the way things are progressing."
The art centre will be multi-faceted and multi-functional with features including a state-of-the-art gallery of original Hundertwasser works and a gallery dedicated to
contemporary Māori fine art.
It is expected to attract more than 202,000 visitors and bring $26.5 million in net economic benefit to Whangarei.