Art galleries simultaneously reflect and shape our sense of identity. Historically, and currently, art galleries hold much significance to communities and are valued, respected and important parts of who we are. Unsurprisingly, then, the task of restoring and extending the iconic Auckland Art Gallery was no easy feat. There were numerous sensitivities to be accounted for in the management of this project, and almost as many stakeholders with keen involvement. Greenstone Group’s experience, meticulous planning and excellent relationship management skills ensured the successful delivery of this culturally significant development.
The three-year project at the Auckland Art Gallery involved restoring and extending the existing heritage art gallery building into an iconic international art facility. Greenstone Group expertly project managed this $90 million development, deftly executing a wide range of responsibilities. Personnel management was required in terms of client-consultant interfacing, stakeholder management and consultation with numerous groups including the Department of Conservation and Historic Places Trust, and managing consultants. Greenstone Group’s financial responsibilities included project budget control, invoice management, budget forecasting, cash flow analysis and overseeing the production of Quantity Surveyors’ cost reports. In terms of regulatory requirements, Greenstone Group had a plethora of responsibilities, including managing resource consent and Environment Court processes, assisting and advising on contract procurement processes, and contract administration. Finally, Greenstone Group’s experience also came to the fore with their design responsibilities, including design management and ensuring environmentally sustainable design management occurred.
In life, anything worth doing is complex and requires planning and grit. This project was no different. This culturally significant development required meticulous planning and superior management skills, both of which Greenstone Group expertly displayed, leading to the delivery of a world-class art facility to showcase much of the nation’s greatest work.
People are not robots. At times, we all allow opinions and subjectivities to interfere with decision making processes. There was a wide array of stakeholders involved in this project. As a result, Greenstone Group ensured early on in the project that processes were set up and implemented in order to manage the project and its stakeholders efficiently and effectively.
In addition to managing people, this high-profile public project involved the management of complex regulatory processes, high end design and technical requirements, all of which were complicated by the myriad different biases and subjectivities the various stakeholders held. The processes Greenstone Group had implemented to combat such a challenge were vital as in order to gain funding, cohesive support and agreement was required from all key stakeholders, including the Auckland City Council, local iwi, the arts community, the Historic Places Trust and central government. Greenstone Group’s superior communication and relationship management skills ensured full support was given by all of these groups, allowing the project to proceed.
Preparation is key for mitigating risks in such a complex project. The regulatory issues this development faced were complex and involved consultation with numerous stakeholders. As the project was considered to be somewhat controversial, it was planned from the project’s early stages to structure each decision and processes to align with the requirements of the Resource Management Act in order to be prepared for any potential challenges to the project through the Environment Court. Greenstone Group’s strategy here proved invaluable when an appeal was lodged and the Environment Court found in favour of the project on all counts.
Similarly, preparation was key to ensuring cohesiveness and connectivity between the restoration of the existing building and the new extension. Greenstone Group implemented an investigation process to evaluate the condition of the existing building and the practicalities of re-use or adaptation. The results of this investigation provided a valuable reference to guide the design during the scoping and documentation phases.
Greenstone Group continued to exhibit their experience managing robust systems and processes in regards to the technical requirements of the project. In today’s world the technical requirements for an art gallery are significant. The gallery is required to simultaneously make an architectural statement and meet high-end environmental and display requirements. Obviously, without thorough planning the budget for such considerations could easily be blown to pieces. Greenstone Group successfully managed the design to control costs and keep them within budget, while also ensuring the gallery’s complex requirements were met.
Of particular importance to an art gallery is the display environment. Greenstone Group successfully implemented a system of continual benchmarking against peer facilities and third-party engineers to achieve final signoff by required stakeholders. This ensured the delivery of an environment fit to display Aotearoa’s national treasures.
Public buildings of such national significance are expected to embody the most up-to-date concepts of sustainable design and construction. Again, Greenstone Group’s exceptional planning insured the implementation of design initiatives occurred to meet these requirements. Although sustainable rating tools are not yet available for gallery buildings, an independent peer review rated the building as meeting a 4-star equivalency on this front. Greenstone Group illustrated the value of their experience here with their ability to remain forward thinking while simultaneously protecting the heritage and history of this iconic space.
Greenstone Group’s contribution to the initiation, design and procurement phases of this major project contributed significantly to its overall success. Greenstone Group’s deft ability to simultaneously manage diverse groups of people, technical requirements and financial aspects of a project certainly came to the fore in this exciting development.
In an era where we are so often separated and isolated from other people, Greenstone Group have managed to expertly develop a space where a collective sense of identity is simultaneously mirrored and forged, strengthening who we are as a nation.
Since the development was completed in September 2011 the Gallery has received 16 architectural and four design-related awards including the 2013 World Building of the Year at the World Architecture Festival in Singapore.