Wellington City councillors have been told by some ratepayers to knock down the central library and start again rather than spend an "obscene" amount of their money on earthquake strengthening.
The building was closed indefinitely in March last year due to seismic concerns stemming from the partial collapse of Statistics House in the Kaikoura Earthquake.
Wellington City Council has received more than 1300 submissions on proposed remediation options.
Today they are hearing oral submissions at a meeting that is expected to extend into tomorrow.
Options include strengthening the library to various levels of the New Building Standard as well as demolishing it and building from scratch.
The most expensive repair option would cost $200 million compared to the price of $90m to build a new, smaller-sized library.
Meanwhile, Heritage New Zealand is proposing to make Wellington's Central Library building a Category 1 Historic Place, which would make demolition increasingly difficult.
Viv Chapple is a member of the Onslow Historical Society and has lived in Wellington for decades.
But despite her interest in heritage she has called for the library to be demolished.
"Bowl it and start again. I'm feeling a little gazumped by Heritage New Zealand.
"As ratepayers we reject to the obscene amount of money required to earthquake strengthen and future proof the building when a new build will be cheaper."
Heritage New Zealand considers the building to have exceptional historic significance as a major work of Ian Athfield, one of New Zealand's most renowned architects of recent times.
It opened in 1991 and proved to be a popular and critical success, attracting more than 1 million visitors each year and winning three major architectural awards.
Chapple acknowledged the council would come under extraordinary pressure to preserve such an iconic building.
"But it has failed its most important test and that is to keep people safe. Architects can design anything but if their buildings are unsafe you do not immortalise them. Be prudent build anew," she said.
Another resident, Bill Beale, said ill-fortune essentially gave the council the opportunity to create a vibrant asset at the heart of the city.
"We mustn't let the heritage process be a straitjacket on the design of a new library.
"This is about the future, not about dictating the use of a museum for my generation of baby boomers."
The council's books are under significant financial pressure with the $6.4 billion Let's Get Wellington Moving plan, Three Waters Infrastructure, and other buildings with seismic resilience issues. Not to mention the fallout from Covid-19.
Another resident, Robyn Tiller, also wanted the building to be demolished.
She said she liked and admired the present building and visited it often, but called on councillors to make a financially-driven decision based on what ratepayers could afford.
Tiller said it would be a loss, but also an opportunity.
She suggested the iconic nīkau palm columns could be salvaged and planted as an installation or incorporated into a new building.
"So we don't forget the past but we start from now and move forward."
But Architectural Centre spokesperson Duncan Joiner said they supported earthquake strengthening the building to 40 per cent of the New Building Standard.
He said it was important the library opened as soon as possible and the council's attitude to earthquake risk was proportional.
"Replacing the building with an equally good building would take many years of demolition, consultation, consenting and construction.
"Keep the building, fix it up, open it up, and then if there are other things to be considered, they can be done in due course, in due time, and properly and carefully.
Joiner also noted the current building was an award winning "cultural artefact".
"Its design and completion in the 1980s was not a knee-jerk reaction but the result of a considered design process.
"It was highly innovative and responded to the latest ideas about community library usage. These are ideas that are still relevant today, even if some of the technology has changed."