Apr 14, 2009

New Christchurch Civic Centre

Designed and built in 1974 by the Ministry of Works, the seven storey former Christchurch Mail Centre at 53-59 Hereford Street West, is now owned by Ngai Tahu Property Ltd. The building is shown under construction to the Left in the above aerial photograph.

To be leased for $8.2 million a year by the Christchurch City Council, the building is currently undergoing a $105 million refit, which will include a five metre extension to the Worcester Boulevard façade (above), three partial mezzanine floors and the installation of a $3.3 million electricity generation, heating and cooling plant, which will be fed by a biogas pipeline from the landfill and wastewater treatment facilty at Burwood.

With reconstruction (below) designed by the Architect Ian Athfield and scheduled for completion in mid 2010, the former New Zealand Post building will accommodate the Council's 1,116 staff.

Reputed as suitable for housing the Council for the next hundred years, the re-inforced concrete building is strong enough to support two further floors should more space be required. The Civic Centre will have a public café and a walkway from which the populace will be able to see into the council chamber.

With an allocation of $200,000, the Council is negotiatiing to acquire a large work of art depicting a feather for the building's foyer and another for the debating chamber.

Artistic licence showing the proposed main entrance from Worcester Boulevard would appear to indicate a somewhat shorter building.


kuaka said...

"Reputed as suitable for housing the Council for the next hundred years"

I think the young people refer to what I'm doing right now as ROFLMAO.

Let's see, in the past 100 yrs or more, the CCC has occupied at least 3 or 4 sites that I'm aware of, but I'm no CCC historian. Chances of staying in same place in next 100 years = 0.

Or perhaps it's all a sick joke at the ratepayers' expense: taunting them with the possibility that the CCC may cap or downsize its staff.

Say, isn't this site close to reputed Maori burial sites (according to the CCC's own CCL heritage web pages) around the old public library? Perhaps a Kai Tahu tohunga has already lifted the tapu given the impending mana from heaven in the form of buckets of Ernest Rutherfords...

Canterbury Heritage said...

On the 13th of April, 1840, on the front page of the first edition of New Zealand's first newspaper (the New Zealand Gazette and Wellington Spectator), a J. Pierce stated the he hoped "that the competitive system of puffing, so much practised in the old world, will never be introduced in this Colony." Puffery, that predilection of what we used to call a skite, would appear to have survived here long after it became such a concern to London's Colonial Office and instrumental in the demise of both the New Zealand Company and the Canterbury Association.

In ever increasing expressions of self grandeur the Christchurch City Council has averaged 29 years occupation of succesive premises. The Roflmao Centre might be a more appropriate name for this controversial folly, which smacks of authoritarian architecture, typical of the type of building surmounted by an eagle or hammer & sickle or even a swastika.

The obsessive use of hackneyed clichés such as "World Class," etc., might impress the cheerful dumb in the Galapagos of Western culture, but to the cogniscent it speaks of no more than an endemic inferiority complex.

A world-class city. Christchurch City Council publication.

The aesthetic of a world-class street. City Mall project director Sean Whitaker.

Canterbury Museum is a cultural and heritage masterpiece. Canterbury Museum web site.

The Southern Hemisphere's finest cultural precinct. Canterbury Television - CTV.

kuaka said...

The city boosters usually fail to see the obvious. For example, it sends the completely wrong message to all & sundry when the acronym for the city's government is "CCC".

Average all round, or at least C cubed...

Hardly the stuff that stamps a city as "world class".

As to exports of puffery, Chch's gift to points north was Wellington ex-mayor Blumsky and "absolutely, positively Wellington" (choke). Chch spared itself there.

Canterbury Heritage said...

We seem to have a penchant for off-key tourist slogans; Ashburton boasts "What Ever it Takes," but Christchurch is currently stuck with the even more ambiguous "Fresh Each Day" (is that a fresh suicide, outbreak of enteritis or battered child each day - fields in which we're genuinely world class).

Perhaps the C³ acronym should stand for Christchurch Crony Capitalists or Coöperative Chums Club, but in view of the Council's mania for the business model and their appalling record of secret machinations and shady deals, the Fastbucks Property Development Corporation might be more appropriate.

Sarndra said...

"Fresh each day" bwhahaha...unfortunately sounds like and advert for panty liners :P... seriously....how much money was spent coming up with that!

Canterbury Heritage said...

Founded at the end of 1998, Christchurch and Canterbury Marketing Limited is a subsidary enterprise of the Christchurch City Council to promote tourism to overseas visitors. Proprieters of the official website for Christchurch at http://www.christchurchnz.com and the Christchurch i-SITE Visitor Centre in Cathedral Square, the predictable range of cosy cross-directorships appear to prevail.

In August 1999 the company launched the controversial "Fresh Each Day" logo, citing that the Garden City image was stale and not appropriate for all sectors, particularly when promoting the city internationally. It is understood that campaign required additional funding of $220,000.

Muzzy said...

It is great to see the Mail Center survived the quakes. I worked on it in 74 during construction, lining the basement walls with mastic asphalt waterproofing, the foundations were massive, the site was huge. We were there nearly a year just doing that part. The MOW got a lot of stick for being slow and having lazy workers (out on the roading), but heck they sure could design and build a building that lasts. Not like nowadays.