For a brief moment in time it seemed as though time had stood still, and that El Terry had given up finishing it, but then it was restarted with new contractors who actually seemed keen to complete the project. It’s one of the more complex developments Wellington has seen for a number of years: taking a barren empty site and layering on it a monster carpark for initial income generating potential, and then an apartment building which suffered the indignity and outright crassness of having another apartment building built slap-bang in front of it, and now the hotel part of the site has almost been completed and is being fitted with a giant diagonal sash across the facade like a winning race-horse.
And how appropriate therefore that we feature the finishing touches going on to the Century City development as the Wellington Cup is held again, graciously sponsored by Wellington’s last developer with any cash left in which to sponsor a race-meet: Mr Terry Serepisos. Designed of course by Wellington’s most convivial architect, the only man in town who has the wherewithal and ability to drive a Ferrari and the inclination to drive a Smart car instead, the sole reason that Wellington’s wine bars are still open and doing a roaring trade in
MerlotPinot, the curly-headed pensioner bad-boy turned establishment figure: Mr Roger Walker.
It has taken an absolute age to come together: who knows what the budget was or the programme was meant to be, but although the Tory St frontage is a bit too try-hard and spiky for my taste, it portrays less of Walker’s butterfly-roofed wow factor characteristic of some of his more recent works such as Scirocco apartments; and thankfully a whole lot less of the “explosion in a bling factory” (great phrase – thanks Wellurban) promised by his next work on the corner of Cuba and Dixon which looks alarmingly like a Jeff Koons take on Disneyland.
The hotel at the front is being fitted with a rooftop lap pool, that in a move reminiscent of the Adelphi hotel in Melbourne, has the glass front of the pool projecting out into the street, a design feature always likely to attract the eye of the Fish.
When seen from the side the roofscape is a fantastic rolling dune-scape of roof forms over the apartments, allowing views to peak north and south. While I haven’t been invited in for a tour of the facilities yet, and am most keen to find out how the several floors of apartments on the north side function without any access to daylight or sunlight after being blocked by MonVie, I must say that I am intrigued by the cladding on the building. It is a metal lovers dream: alucobond panelling, corrugated steel or aluminium side walls, stainless steel balcony frontages, and a large amount of steel structure in behind it all as well. Not a sign of dodgy fibre-cement board or leaky plastering anywhere. All they really need to do to finish the job off now, is to complete the signage out the front so that it no longer reads as the current somewhat tacky moniker: Century City Ho.