MaximusJuly 18, 2008
Jolly Green Giants
In a break away from discussing the whys and wherefores of a proposed small road to the north of Wellington, lets return for a moment to the heart of the city to present and discuss a building proposal by The Wellington Company.
The building, designed by local architects Architecture +, is proposed as the new home for Telecom in Wellington, as reported by NBR and the DomPost earlier this week, although in typical non-helpful fashion, neither acknowledged who the architect was.
Also being marketed recently are glassy new proposals situated between Lambton Quay and Kate Sheppard Place, just next to the bus-station, which are an update on a previous scheme, by the same architects, as originally reported almost a year ago by WellUrban. Some hillside dwellers aren’t going to be getting much sleep if all these projects come off…
Telecom have been on the hunt for some time for a new base in the capital, to concentrate their staff – at present distributed in several buildings around Wellington, including on Jervois Quay and also in Tory St. Those avid property watchers amongst us will have noticed that Ian Cassells, head of the Wellington Company, bought the Tory St buildings some months back, and so probably has a good handle on Telecom’s needs.
The building site, stretching from the Willis St New World Metro, all the way back up to Boulcott St by Antrim House, currently has some ‘relocatable’ apartments of hideous design up by Antrim House which will be removed to make way for the new ‘twin tower’ concept. It appears from the one grainy sketch leaked so far that the new building will sit on top of 50-52 Willis St as shown here, and probably swallow the old Airways House whole. That still leaves room for another building also rumoured, to slip into the void at 28-38 Willis St just to the north of this site. Munns Menswear are at 22-26 Willis St, well clear of this site. More on Cassell’s Telecom coup here.
The building as proposed progresses on from Arch Plus’s previous work at Conservation House in Manners St, where they refurbished the tired old carcase of the former badly designed movie hall, and have turned it into an environmentalist’s wet dream. In Doc House, filled with chilled beams, stylish wooden battens, and the smallest waste baskets you have ever seen, the only touch of conservation missing is a few tui flying around, although given that DoC are prone to shooting off pukeko and the occasional extremely rare takahe, perhaps its all for the best. Its also a good fit for Cassells and company, as he’s keen to recycle and reuse wherever possible, to excellent effect at DoC and to lesser success in places in Cuba St.
The drawing as shown here certainly doesn’t do it justice, and indeed I’m not sure that the amount of press coverage was planned. The snaky green panes of glass, waving in and out on the facade seem to be the trick de jour, no matter who the architect is. Of interest in the finished building will be a potentially giant atrium, rising possibly 12 stories up from ground level where currently exists only deep plan gardens and retaining walls behind the existing shops. With a bit of luck and good management by the consenting authorities, a through walkway and publicly accessible lift up to Boulcott St should also be available. That’s one of the great things about Wellington – the enforced cooperation of large commercial tenants to share their hill-climbing vertical transportation with the general public.