Some good news last week with the announcement that the Council’s former Civic Administration Building – which was given Category A heritage status under the Unitary Plan – will be restored. To make things better, it will be joined by a number of new buildings filling in what is currently a dead zone surrounding it.


The iconic Civic Administration Building in Aotea Square will be restored and the surrounding area developed under a private sector proposal that will breathe life into a key part of our city centre.

The city’s urban development agency Panuku Development Auckland has selected Tawera Group to restore the Category A heritage building after an international tender process.

Tawera’s Civic Quarter proposal features residential apartments in the upper floors with food and beverage facilities on the ground floor of the existing building. There will also be a new apartment building on the Mayoral Drive corner, a new boutique hotel on Mayoral Drive and a building featuring a Whare Tapere performance space fronting Aotea Square.

Auckland Mayor Len Brown says Civic Quarter shows what is possible if we make the most of the opportunities we have with heritage buildings.

“With the population in the central city expected to double in the next 30 years, it’s essential we develop new accommodation options to make this a liveable city. This scheme is a fantastic way to achieve this. It’s all about making the most of the land and opportunities we have in a growing city.”

The mayor says Civic Quarter will bring a new edge to Aotea Square, with the hotel as well as the food and beverage offerings in the development adding vitality to this corner of Auckland’s arts precinct.

“And for Aucklanders the best news is that this partnership with a well-respected private sector developer will come at no cost to ratepayers.”

Panuku Project Director Clive Fuhr says after an extensive tender process it’s pleasing to announce the plans for a building that has remained largely empty since being vacated by the council.

“It was important to provide a viable commercial opportunity that would enable the restoration of a heritage building, the provision of more housing and the revitalisation of this precinct.”

Fuhr says Tawera was the lead tenderer from an Expressions of Interest and Request for Proposals process that attracted global interest and some impressive detailed submissions.

The Tawera proposal was selected with guidance from a panel of urban design experts and heritage advisors. Mana whenua were also part of the selection process, ensuring the Te Aranga Maori Design principles were incorporated.

“It was important we found the right partner to ensure both the heritage features of the building are protected and that it tells a strong Maori story. We were very impressed with Tawera who recently won the Property Council award for their Hopetoun Residences,” says Fuhr.

“Their scheme certainly gives effect to the objectives in the recently adopted Aotea Quarter Framework Plan.”

Tawera principal John Love says his team is excited to be part of this important development for Auckland.

“Civic Quarter is the kind of regeneration project that has won Tawera Group awards in the past.  It will blend an iconic Auckland landmark with cutting edge design ensuring that the Aotea Quarter becomes a must visit destination for all.”

Auckland Council Heritage Manager Noel Reardon, whose team was involved in the selection process, says the Civic was the city’s tallest building when it was completed in 1966 and it went on to become an icon of local government.

“It’s great news to see such an iconic building being restored. The council’s heritage team will work closely with the developers to ensure the heritage features are retained and restored.”

The next steps in the development will be for Tawera to work through the resource and building consents, particularly in terms of the refurbishment works.  Building is expected to start in mid-2017 and take three years.

This shows the expected layout of the buildings that are planned


As a comparison, most of this space is currently carparks and largely unused dead space


Here’s a video of what’s proposed, some of what’s proposed looks a little awkward but hopefully that can improve as the design evolves. I also hope a lot of care is taken with the design of those shared lanes. I do like that this part of Mayoral Dr will finally have some activation but that will also mean we need to ensure Mayoral Dr isn’t just left as a racetrack.

One thing that also struck me was how in some ways the Whare Tapere is a modern take on Tibor Donner’s original design for the area which included annexes on either side of the Civic Admin Building, as can be seen here. You can also see that image doesn’t include Mayoral Dr which was bulldozed through the area.

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    1. Presumably the council borrows some money up front to buy the swimming pool that they will need for all of the money they will make for ratepayers through this proposal.

  1. Glad to see the ridiculous suburban office park design of the area die. Empty space around a tall building is a complete contradiction.

    It will be good to get some more people in this area too as it may make the northern end of Myers Park a bit safer, particularly at night.

    1. On that point, “I had a dream” of seeing Chamberlain Park (or part thereof) converted to an area with a few nice 5-7 storey apartment blocks loosely interspersed through the grass and trees, and with no car access, making it a statement of how green intense buildings are. Not sure if there’s a market for that, but it’d be a novelty

  2. My understanding of the history is that the building itself is a lemon.

    The Council wanted out because it is full of asbestos and is a maintenance nightmare. The design has 100s of made to measure unique panels that allows the structure to articulate in an earthquake. These panels need replacing periodically leading to ongoing machining of bespoke parts, the panels themselves and the intricate holdings and fixtures. The listing of the building by the part of the Council that designates it of note leaves the rate payers with substantial on-going costs after the body collective of the Council wanted it pulled down. It now it sits empty. I am hoping this announcement draws a line under the ownership of the structure with it going to a private owner. The press statement above however does not make this distinction.

    1. Hilarious reading Dushko Bogunovich in the Herald last week pleading for the acres of car parking to remain, claiming (wrongly, as above) that the building was designed to stand alone; and hoping the hideous Mayoral Drive would remain as it is – a grand boulevard ideal for viewing the city by car. The man’s a disgrace to his profession.

    2. That was my main concern with giving heritage protection to the building – the critical outcome of the site was addressing the dreadful interface with Mayoral drive and Aotea Square so good to see a solution which attempts to rectify this. I’d be interested to know what kind of demand for (and type of) retail there will be in those units fronting Mayoral Drive and Greys Ave.

  3. You can remove the parking if you also remove the obsession with the CBD being the only central hub and all roads (pardon the pun) must lead to it. Witness the mass exodus at the end of each workday. Time for the devolution of good things to the suburbs.

    1. Why does removing car parking necessitate removing jobs? Surely fewer people driving means less congested roads for you?

    2. The city centre is one of the few parts of the city where you can see a reasonable amount of people walking down the street after 6pm. Or in the middle of the day, for that matter. So by that measure, it’s one of the most successful parts of the city, and not just for employment.

  4. I hope the Bledisloe Building and Central Police Station get listed as Category A as well. They are perfect for architecture students to visit as examples of the ugliest buildings in Auckland.

    1. Police tried to alter underlying UP development controls of the CPS site but Council didn’t want a bar of it – they wanted its form to stay exactly as is.

  5. For me this can’t be built quick enough. The refurb of the Aotea centre is also needed quickly. Aotea square should be so much better than it is. A world class space.

    Great to see more progress in making the city walkable with safe laneways and activation on mayoral drive.

  6. It’s a fairly low-rise development.
    Looking at the plan, is the underpass to the Rendezvous going to be incorporated into the new “Hotel Lobby”? The view in the video from Mayoral drive looks like the entrance will be buried?
    Pedestrian laneways for fine weather only, looks like a lack of awnings. The underpass and some of the other covered walkways in the area are quite useful when its raining.

  7. A bolder refactoring of this area would see the removal of that scar: Mayoral Drive. Extend the grid of Albert, Eliott, Federal to interest with an extended Cook that runs through to the Queen/Rutland/Wakefield intersection.

    Remove Mayoral Drive between Wakefield and Wellesly. Reconnect Lorne St to St Paul. And reconnect Rutland to Wellesley. Reduce the size and straighten Mayoral Drive between Queen and Wakefield. Remove Mayoral Drive between Vincent and Queen. Potentially replace with a smaller, straight street aligned 90deg to Greys Ave.

    1. A story I heard years ago:

      Telecom got told they would have to strengthen the Mayoral Drive Exchange to handle a potential car bomb on Mayoral Drive taking out half NZ’s communications. The cost was going $20-30 million (from memory). Some bright spark (pun intended) had the idea of offering the council that much to close to Mayoral drive in front of the building instead. The council were uninterested in the idea.

    1. The modernist heritage features of course. Note that “heritage” isn’t necessarily the same as “historic” and certainly doesn’t simply mean “old”.

      As Aucklands first skyscraper and first civic building in the modernist style it clearly has heritage for the city.

  8. What’s happening with those designs that popped up a while ago for the Basement carpark and surrounds? I seem to recall there was a creek flowing through there and some new buildings?

    1. I can’t be certain but looking at the plans I think it will still there between the new motel lobby and the new retail.

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