Two central Wellington buildings have won awards at the NZIA’s national awards ceremony in Auckland, according to the Dompost. Both of them are pretty fantastic, and have won awards before – there’s the new Conservation House by Architecture + (completed only a year or so ago) and then there is Massey House by Cedric Firth and Ernest Plishke, some 50 years before.
Massey House is just one of a row of mid-height buildings crowding along Lambton Quay now, but when it was built it stood out in a bold manner that astonished and excited the Wellingtonians of the time. It was considerably taller than all its surrounding neighbours, but was also it had a bold and forward thinking design that still looks crisp today. Eight stories high, with a strictly Modern glazed facade, and the top floor set back, the building is listed as heritage with the NZHPT – one of the few from the modern era that has been deemed worthy of a heritage rating. Amazingly for Wellington, and pretty fantastic for any building from 50 years ago in todays world, one of the original tenants, Parsons bookshop, is still in residence. Originally a meeting place for intellectuals and European emigres, Parsons still serves up the city’s best range of books and classical music, even if the coffee and strudel has gone. Massey House wins an Enduring Architecture award, a nice recognition (albeit post-humously) for Plishke, who infamously was never given Architect status by the NZIA.
Conservation House, a new use for a formerly derelict cinema shell in Manners St, won a Supreme Award from the NZIA, a great recognition for the need to rework our existing building stock and reduce the energy consumption of New Zealand. It has previously been the recipient of an award from the Architectural Centre as one of the 10 best recent buildings in Wellington, so its nice to see the NZIA also recognise the merits of the building. Setting the trend within the city for green buildings (every property manager wants one now), the developer The Wellington Company also deserves huge congratulations for taking the former Mid-City Plaza building (a dingy, badly-designed, run-down derelict hole of a disaster of 1980s design) and turning it into a great place to work.