The Commissioners have been busy of late. When the going gets tough, in a small city like this, there’s only one thing to do: call in the Commissioner. The big news for Wellington is of course that Indoor Sports Centre is ready to rumble.
Yes, the independent Commissioner, John Anderson, has prepared his final report and is ready to report back to Wellington on the result today or tomorrow He’s reported back – see update below. We’d love to be able to scoop you (wait, we already have) the result of whether the Commissioner says “Yay”, or “No Way Jose”, to the Cobham Park Conundrum, but we can’t – it’s too close to call. Rumour has it that he has been doing his homework rather thoroughly, and delving into every corner of the schemes, so it will be interesting to see if the Mayor gets her way, or if Councillor Foster has to eat humble pie.

Of course, if the scheme goes the way of Cobham Drive, they can start work tomorrow. The drawings are all done, the Building Consent is in place, and the school children are gagging for it. Mind you, if the nod from the Commissioner goes the other way, then literally, its back to the drawing board. Still, better to sort it out now than have a lifetime of sporting sessions in the wrong location. Honeywood’s in a stew over getting hot and sweaty and taking public transport home. Jayseatee is happy to share the communal showers and then walk. The Fish is thinking: I don’t really care as I’m never going to use it anyway, but mind you: that concourse is mighty big and mighty bare…

Update: the Commissioner’s report, which I’ve skim read, has come down totally and unequivocally on the side of Cobham, and given the Concourse site a thorough pasting. While there is some one-sidedness in that (given that one scheme was taken to a preliminary design stage in 2002 and not really worked on much since, and the other has had 2 years of design work on it and is ready to be built tomorrow), there is now no doubt that the Concourse option is a total dead duck and will never raise its head again.

The report has been extreeeeemely thorough, and includes many other specialist sub-reports from other ‘experts’ in their fields, including Barry Copeland on the architecture, Graeme McIndoe on Urban Design, Lawyers, Quantity Surveyors and Project Managers, Structural Engineers, Fire Engineers, Traffic Engineers, etc etc etc.

And while they all raise some points to and for the Concourse, its all pretty definite: No Go to the Concourse. Full steam ahead for the Cobham Drive.

Andy Foster should bow to the inevitable, and graciously accept that the Concourse is dead and that Cobham is all go.

In other news from the Commissioners this week: Athfield’s fractured facade (and the building behind it) have got the go ahead this week.
We were kind of surprised that there wasn’t much discussion on the building from the architectural community, given that the developers had gone to the bother of having the building publicly notified. Good on them for giving people the chance to look and to comment, rather than just launching into the normal secretive behind the scenes negotiations with those shadowy figures at the Council. I’m still intrigued that there isn’t much discussion on the facade, although perhaps this has been thrown into the background given the similar fractured treatment given over to the much more controversial proposal for the National Library. We noted at the time that:

Perhaps the better question to be asking is: Why? While we here at the Fish quite like the rumpled (stilt) skin look of the eastern facade, and the overhanging glass edge (that Athfields have done so well on Chews Lane), why do we have such a tedious assemblage of orthogonalism to the south? What if the building was fractured and fractalated all over, in a pre-”the big one”-earthquake look? Is there a rationale for swopping so quickly from between Dr Jekyl one one side to Mr Hyde on the other? If so, then it spoils the look by being able to see both sides at the same time. Or is this more like a mild-mannered Clark Kent showing a respectable pair of spectacles to the accountants on Featherston St, while rapidly spinning into his skin-tight costume on Customhouse Quay? Can we expect more whizz-bang going on behind the facade, or is beauty really only just skin-deep?

Despite the report from the Commissioners giving it the OK, we still haven’t figured out an answer to any of that.