The Eye of the Fish

September 22, 2010

Fountains for Wellington

It is lovely to hear and to see that the current WCC roads department has undertaken to supply Wellington with a new Fountain. Trialled briefly last night, its magnificent spout put a sparkle in the Fish’s eye, a flick in my tail. I love a good soaking.

Digging the preparatory hole in Manners Mall on Tuesday afternoon, it seems that a digger unearthed the gusher in the line of the proposed Manners Mall bus-route. By all accounts it was equal in size and impressiveness to the more established Oriental Bay fountain, which entertains me daily in the waters of the harbour. There are more photos and even a video, on the Dom Post website here.
Anti-mall protestors Maria van der Meel (the woman who was masterminding the Facebook anti-buslane campaign), and that bloke who tried to bash a hole in the concrete with a sledge hammer (injuring only his ego), will presumably be happy that the Council have taken on board some of the criticism, and are evidently installing features other than just a lane for buses. It is not known how the fountain will interact with the buslanes in the long term.
Perhaps periodically. Perhaps, on the hour, as per the Len Lye Water Whirler. Perhaps, as per Oriental Bay, only nightly between the hours of 7.30 and 9pm.

Regardless, it is a better piece of PR than the news today that 3 old Wellington buildings on Willis St are due to come down – and one is already underway in demolition.

“The street-front buildings, one of which includes a facade emblazoned with “1876”, are owned by Singaporean Grand Complex Properties, which plans eventually to build a multimillion-dollar high-rise on the site. A temporary two-storey building will replace the one under demolition at 34-42 Willis St.
Historic Places Trust central region general manager Ann Neill said the trust was disappointed the buildings were being demolished and that it was not alerted by the council.”

Seems to me that the Council has really screwed up on that issue. WCC spokesperson, Richard MacLean, is reported as saying that “There was no reason for the consent to have been publicly notified. The council regretted any oversight in not alerting the trust” but the issue is bigger than just a PR blunder. The buildings themselves are old, but not fantastically impressive really. They’ve been semi-derelict for years, with paint peeling off, and yes, being old, and probably brick, they probably are an earthquake risk as they are. I’m saddened, but not devastated at that news. What is good is that the McCarthy building, next door on the Wellington Central site (the Telecom building), is a far more interesting building and is being kept in place with even almost a whole bay of structure retained – including the celebrated central stair. What is bad is that a piece of history is being demolished without the chance of public discussion – and that raises serious alarm bells regarding the new Heritage team that currently exists at the Council.

22 - 09 - 10

I walk down Willis on a daily basis, and was pleasantly surprised when they started dismantling the shop-fronts on this building to see the old fašade emerge. It has some cool detailing that had been covered up by bland boxing.
Now it will likely be replaced by more blandness.

22 - 09 - 10

it seems like a strategic reversal for the area…

with all the effort taken in this neighbourhood to preserve facades over recent years, it seemed that this part of town was actually becoming a really nice combination of historic and modern with some quite unique character… i thought it was an excellent example of how this kind of heritage maintenance can be successfully achieved without it becoming tacky.

it’s a bit of a shame that the buildings are being destroyed only to be replaced by temporary store fronts which will also eventually be destroyed… i’m sure their demise was a simple cost of maintenance vs cost of replacement argument with no consideration taken for appearance…

these facades would have made an excellent base for a ‘hotel treckers’ style makeover, instead they’ll end up being bland temporary boxes… which will be replaced with blander high rise boxes… or am i being too cynical? perhaps we’ll get some modern gems… sigh

22 - 09 - 10

So dissapointed to have missed the geyser! A witness (possibly a questionable witness) in a building across the road told me he was looking out the window when it went off and it went as high as the Eagle (formerly KPMG) building and wet a guy reading a book in the sun on that rooftop apartment above the Starmart. We should make it a permanent attraction set to go off every 90 minutes like Old Faithful. (Be the coolest attraction in Wellington!)