The Old Arts Building sits at the heart of the Universities heritage sector. It originally contained male and female student common rooms, linked to the Clock Tower by cloisters. It served until 1968 when the building became administration and the internal form was obscured by partitioning, new cut in windows and it lost the social purpose. For the University, maintaining a suitable supply of lecture theaters was critical to the delivery of academic services. In 2014 it was decided to create four new 50 seat seminar rooms in B119 and reinstate communal student spaces. The project was an opportunity to reverse inappropriate changes of the past, thus enabling a key heritage building to meet future obligations to students and contribute to the Universities overall productivity.
Being Category A listed historic building placed certain constraints upon the redevelopment of B119. In undertaking this project it was critical for the University to balance the heritage aspects with issues of long-term student safety and the overarching requirements to provide a financially sound investment. The University need to achieve an NBS of 67% which meant a full seismic strengthening of the Old Arts Building. Comprehensive but discrete seismic structural strengthening works had to be undertaken throughout the fabric of the building by sourcing specialist contractors. Resource consent was needed for the earthworks, ground contamination and Built Heritage & Archaeological matters, as the building and site surrounds were listed both in the Auckland Unitary Plan and by Heritage New Zealand (HNZ). Our team added value through close consultation with HNZ and Council Heritage officers which was key to the success in obtaining the consent.
With a historic restoration of this nature a range of unexpected issues can arise during construction. The project team reduced this risk significantly by carrying out early trials in several parts of the building well before construction was established on site. This proved highly valuable with minimal additional costs and variants needed throughout the project and meant the budget could be managed successfully.
The conversion of B119 from outdated and relatively unproductive office space into contemporary student and lecture spaces has returned monetary and non-monetary value to the University. It has ensured B119 regained its original status as a key point of difference for the University. While the projects primary driver was to increase supply of academic services, the commitment to retaining the heritage of the building resulted in a historically important building being beautifully reinstated and it now provides a significant presence and resource for students. It is a central hub for daily student life and has enabled students to connect with and develop an appreciation of the outstanding heritage architecture of the Old Arts Building. The project came in significantly under budget and in advance of projected completion leading to a very positive financial and academic result for the University.