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Plans make a work of art of Auckland’s art gallery

5 July 2005

Plans make a work of art out of Auckland’s art gallery

Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tamaki is set to join the ranks of major art museums on the world stage with the launch of its plan for a multi-million dollar restoration and expansion.

The much-anticipated plan for the $90 million development, released this morning, is set to secure Auckland’s place as home to New Zealand’s pre-eminent public art gallery.

The plan includes earthquake-proofing and heritage restoration of the 1887 and 1916 components of the main building combined with contemporary new additions that will see display space increased by fifty per cent.

The development will enable the gallery to better meet stringent international lending requirements, host bigger exhibitions of more varied kinds and display more of its 13,000 strong collection more often.

The Mayor of Auckland City, Dick Hubbard, says the heritage restoration and expansion of the Auckland Art Gallery will put New Zealand on the international map.

“We have embarked on an ambitious project to take what we love most about the gallery and future-proof it for the community it serves, while also creating a place that inspires all New Zealanders,” says Mr Hubbard.

“This is a new home of truly international quality for a collection of national importance. The council is committed to the project and has confirmed its commitment by way of financial support to the tune of $25 million,” he says.

The plan details an extension of the gallery to the north and east, with a major new entrance facing Khartoum Place to make the building more open to its city setting and more integrated with Albert Park.

“In four years time the public will experience New Zealand’s finest art collection in an entirely different way. While extending and adapting our existing spaces, we also wanted to seize the opportunity to reinvent their uses.

“This project is not just about creating more dynamic and flexible spaces for art, it is about programming those spaces in ways that will ultimately expand the audience for art,” says gallery director, Chris Saines.

“We want to make the gallery friendlier to families, more relevant to young people and more inviting to the community. With this in mind, we wanted a design that made the gallery feel as transparent and inviting as possible.

“While we are yet to determine the final layout of the display and exhibition spaces, the public can expect to see more of the best of our historical collections and considerably more of our contemporary holdings when the building reopens in 2009.

“We owe a huge debt of thanks to the project’s lead architect Richard Francis-Jones and the Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp + Archimedia team for producing such an imaginative and functional design,” says Mr Saines.

Richard Francis-Jones from says the project team has been working hard to develop a design that respects the current iconic gallery building and reflects its adjacency to Albert Park.

"The newly developed Auckland Art Gallery will be an exciting, vibrant and welcoming 'place of art' created at the intersection of Albert Park and the central city, providing a unique urban focus and diverse cultural experience," says Mr Francis-Jones.

"It has developed from a concept which relates as much to the organic natural forms of the landscape as it does from architectural order and character of the important heritage buildings. The new building is characterised through a series of fine ‘tree-like’ canopies that define and cover the entry forecourt, atrium and gallery areas. These light-profiled forms ‘hover’ over the stone walls and terraces creating a memorable image closely related to the beautiful overhanging canopy of pohutukawa trees,” he says.

The Urban Design Panel has offered support to this important public project and has given the design team feedback on the preliminary design to assist with the design process going forward.

Construction is expected to commence late 2006.


The vision behind the Auckland Art Gallery development

Fast facts

Included in the plan is:
earthquake-proofing and heritage restoration of the 1887 and 1916 components of the main building
a distinctive roof design inspired by the surrounding landscape
fifty per cent more display space for collections and temporary exhibitions
views from the entry through the building to the park, offering more transparency
a bold new gallery main entrance fronting Kitchener Street
development of an informal exterior amphitheatre on the park side
a landscaped pedestrian link between Kitchener Street and Albert Park
a ceremonial entrance to the building on the northern side
a covered service entrance for the safe movement of artworks and behind-the-scenes deliveries
an expanded gallery shop and café
a bigger and more accessible gallery library
more space dedicated to education programmes
purpose-designed after-hours function facilities.

Background information
Restoring and expanding Auckland Art Gallery Toi o T?maki created a unique set of challenges for the architectural team. The fundamental challenge has been to restore the wonderful heritage building while developing a complementary, flexible and contemporary design.

The brief required the team to connect the gallery with its surrounding environment and to combine heritage restoration with some exciting contemporary design solutions.

A key objective of the design was to relate built elements with the existing trees and landscape of Albert Park. The team looked at the existing character of the park and utilised this to create effective linkages with the building, the park and the surrounding streets. To this end, new landscaped terraces and paved platforms have been included to form a smooth pedestrian connection between Kitchener Street and Albert Park.

The experience and quality of the connections will be enhanced by the number of opportunities for activity - a new gallery forecourt fronting Kitchener Street, a café on the northern side, development of an informal external amphitheatre in the adjacent park for public use, and the potential for a sculpture terrace on the eastern edge of the building. The northern terrace upgrade also incorporates a ceremonial entry to the gallery.

One of the most distinctive features of the new building is the roof design. The team felt strongly that the natural forms of the landscape should influence the built design. With this in mind, they have developed a geometric pattern that strongly resembles the membrane of a leaf, melded into a series of fine “tree-like” canopies that define and cover the entry forecourt, atrium and gallery areas. This creates a memorable image closely related to the beautiful canopy of overhanging pohutukawa trees and gives the gallery a truly unique identity.

Between the terraces and the roof canopy are transparent glazed surfaces – from the entry forecourt through the gallery to the park and beyond – inviting discovery and opening the gallery to Albert Park and public spaces.

The culturally significant 1887 building will be restored and seamlessly integrated into the new gallery complex. The fine cornices, ceiling profiles and architectural detailing will be revealed and displayed, giving each heritage gallery a distinctive character. Modern lighting, display and air-conditioning systems will be carefully integrated to create appropriate display and conservation conditions.

The historic 1916 East Gallery, currently used for workshops and art storage, will be recreated as a major new gallery space, complete with a natural daylight celestory. It will open directly from a northern atrium through a new floor that will appear to be suspended. The new built elements will complement the classical sequence of rooms of the heritage buildings, as new flexible gallery spaces on three levels between the Kitchener Wing and the East Gallery.

The most dramatic space within the gallery is the northern atrium, located in the heart of the new building. It is a grand vertical space, filled with natural light and views into the park and surrounds. The northern atrium opens vertically right through each level of the gallery, and appears from the outside as a glazed display case, making visible major art installations and the vibrant activity of the gallery.

A second atrium will be created at the south end of the complex to complement the northern atrium and to open up the original north-east face of the Wellesley Gallery. It will be filled with natural light from the east over the greenery of the park. The roof profile of the original building will remain.

Along with these atriums, many new exhibition spaces will be created to expand the existing display area by approximately fifty per cent. The new gallery areas include the Park Gallery, a linear exhibition space that runs along the eastern side of the complex, and many large and flexible exhibition galleries between Kitchener Street and the East Gallery. These contemporary display spaces offer flexible display environments for works of art. At the top level of the complex, a new exhibition space will take advantage of the natural light to create a natural day lit gallery when required.

The new additions reflect the scale, proportions and detail of the architecture of the existing gallery, complementing the proud turn-of-the-century architecture of the original gallery.

The combination of these elements give a sense of welcome and lightness to the gallery building, nestling within the park under an exciting roof design that echoes the natural forms of the surrounding trees. The result is a powerful and memorable image.

Raising the funds – the Auckland Art Gallery Foundation

The Auckland Art Gallery Toi o T?maki 2009 development project is estimated to cost $90 million. The gallery’s owner, the Auckland City Council, has agreed to contingent funding of $25 million towards the development over the next five years.

This leaves $65 million to be raised to complete the project - an unprecedented fundraising target for a New Zealand cultural institution. The Auckland Art Gallery Foundation was established to achieve this fundraising target.

In order to meet the ambitious fundraising objectives, the Foundation plans to lead a major capital campaign to support the project.

The Foundation is a separate entity sitting outside Auckland City and the gallery’s operational and governance structures. This enables greater independence for the Foundation in its fundraising work, notwithstanding that all of its work is for the sole benefit of the gallery’s development programme.

The chairman of the Foundation John Judge, who is chief executive of Ernst & Young, leads a group of nine trustees, comprising prominent Aucklanders who are both business and philanthropic leaders in their own right.

There are currently nine Foundation trustees, including key stakeholders drawn from the gallery’s major collection and trust partner bodies, as well as from its patrons and corporate sponsor groups. Between them, they share an extraordinary level of long-term commitment to the gallery.

For the most part, Foundation trustees have ties that span well over a decade of active participation in the Gallery’s community of supporters and, in their own right, they represent many more constituencies of business and philanthropic interest.

The Trustees are:
John Judge (Chairperson) – Chief Executive, Ernst & Young NZ
Don Clark – Chair, Edmiston Trust
Dr Robin Congreve – Patrons of the Gallery, Trustee ACAT, donor
Rob Gardiner O.N.Z.M. – Chair, Chartwell Trust, major donor
Jenny Gibbs C.N.Z.M. – Chair, ACAT, Patrons of the Gallery, major donor
His Worship, Mayor of Auckland city, Dick Hubbard
Dayle Mace – Chair, Patrons of the Gallery, donor
Scott Perkins – Managing Director, Deutsche Bank Australasia, sustaining sponsor
John Wigglesworth – Chair Mackelvie Trust, member Art Gallery Enterprise Board.

To make a gift or for further information, please contact:
Elizabeth Hauraki, Auckland Art Gallery Foundation, fundraising manager
ph: (09) 307 7700
fax: (09) 302 1096
email: liz.hauraki@aucklandcity.govt.nz

The architects behind the Auckland Art Gallery development

Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp + Archimedia
Sydney-based FJMT (Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp) and Auckland-based Archimedia have worked with Auckland City to develop the design for the Auckland Art Gallery development.

This award-winning trans-Tasman architectural partnership has an international reputation for its work on high-profile public buildings and has assembled a team that has brought excellence and innovation to the restoration and development project, drawing on both local and international expertise.

FJMT was recently awarded two of the highest architectural awards for their work on The Mint, in Sydney. FJMT received the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) 2005 Sulman Award and the RAIA's highest conservation award, the 2005 Greenway Award.

A project very rarely receives this double honour and the RAIA jury described the "metamorphosis of the 1850s Mint from a cluster of ruinous and neglected shells to a superb ensemble of restored, adapted and invented forms and spaces" and went on to say that it is "a gift to Sydney".

In addition, The Mint project was also awarded the National Trust's top award for Adaptive Re-use and the National Trust Energy Australia Award for Energy Management.

FJMT (Francis–Jones Morehen Thorp)
Richard Francis-Jones
BSc.Arch B.Arch Ms.Arch RAIA
Richard Francis-Jones is the principal designer at Sydney-based FJMT Architects. He has led the team through the critical brief analysis and definition phase as well as the consultation and subsequent design stages of the Auckland Art Gallery project.

Francis-Jones’ architectural expertise extends from urban planning and architectural design to heritage assessment, interior design and environmental sustainability. He is perhaps best known for his commitment to the design of the public domain through his role in FJMT’s many landmark public commissions.

Most notably, he was responsible for the Scientia building at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. Scientia was awarded Australia’s highest Architectural and Urban Design honours, including the Sir Zelman Cowan Award, the Sir John Sulman Award for Architectural Excellence and The Lloyd Rees Award for Excellence in Civic Design.

Francis-Jones has designed many significant projects that involve buildings of high public usage and include elements of heritage significance. His previous projects illustrate his commitment to the complex issues associated with the restoration of heritage buildings and the integration of new built forms.

His approach is always consistent. He works to enhance and adapt heritage buildings in combination with the considered placement and juxtaposition of contemporary architectural forms. This produces a cohesive development that combines the best of heritage conservation with architectural excellence.

Neil Martin, Design Director
Neil Martin has a distinguished international career in architecture and urban design, with 15 years experience in the UK, Australia and New Zealand. He gained his Masters in Architecture and Urban Design from Columbia University, New York.

Design director of the New Zealand firm ARCHIMEDIA, Martin has an excellent understanding of contemporary issues in architectural design and practice, working most recently with FJMT on the new School of Business complex for The University of Auckland.

Martin augmented the design expertise of the team with his experience in design and construction for several major institutional and civic projects. Other recent projects include the Wearable Arts/Classic Car Museum in Nelson and the Hyatt Residences project in Auckland.

A key area of Martin’s expertise is brief development and client consultation; analysing and refining the various inputs of the stakeholder groups within an organisation. Throughout the project, he has worked closely with gallery staff to draw on their expertise.

Martin’s considerable rapport with FJMT has added considerable value during the design and implementation phases and has facilitated the incorporation of the latest international thought with respect to gallery design to be accommodated, whilst enabling the project to progress in accordance with the agreed programme and cost criteria.


The Mint, Macquarie Street, Sydney
New Head Office for the Historic Houses Trust of NSW
One of Sydney’s most sensitive heritage areas, this project involved considered insertion of contemporary architectural forms within the heritage remnants of The Mint’s coining factory.

Key aspects of the design included: provision of a new public multi-purpose theatrette and reception area; a library resource centre and a repository accommodating the National Trust’s vast collection of books, material and artefacts. It also included office accommodation and a showcase for The Mint’s extensive collection and the revitalisation of a little known part of Sydney.

FJMT was recently awarded the Royal Australian Institute of Architects (RAIA) 2005 Sulman Award for their work on The Mint and the RAIA's highest conservation award, the 2005 Greenway Award. In addition, the project recently won the National Trust's top award for Adaptive Re-use and the National Trust Energy Australia Award for Energy Management.

The Willoughby City Civic Place, Sydney
FJMT have been commissioned to design a new civic centre for the city of Willoughby including a theatre, concert hall, library and gallery/exhibition spaces.

ANA Hotel, The Rocks, Sydney
FJMT (formerly MGT)
The Rocks precinct incorporates the restoration and adaptive reuse of existing historic houses and the creation of a central public square. The hotel was designed in a highly complex existing environment and within stringent building controls.

Munn Street Bond Store, Millers Point
This major reconstruction of an historic 1870s sandstone bond store was undertaken in strict accordance with Heritage Council guidelines. The building was considered unique within the remaining maritime buildings from Sydney’s colonial past.

Parliament House, Canberra
FJMT (formerly MGT)
The design was required to resolve symbolic, ceremonial, functional and public access issues on a site that was the focal point of the Master Plan for the City. Included within the Parliament complex are significant public art galleries: the Parliament Portrait Gallery, the Parliament Collection and the Temporary Exhibition Halls.

Scientia, University of NSW
The Scientia project involved a major regeneration of the upper campus, which includes the creation of the new University Square precinct, pedestrian mall, hard and soft landscaped terraces, lighting and reconfiguration of roads and access ways. The centrepiece of the project is the Scientia building.

Creative Industries Precinct
Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane
The $A50million Creative Industries project represents an innovative merger of a series of separate faculties, combining Film and Television, Journalism, Dance, Theatre and Performing Arts, Multimedia and Fashion, into an integrated ‘off campus’ partnership with private industry and the wider community.

Museum of Contemporary Art + Sydney Harbour Moving Image Centre
FJMT Architects created an international award-winning design for this project.

Wearable Arts/Classic Car Museum
This project involved the conversion of a disused car assembly plant to house an internationally established annual event and trust – the New Zealand Wearable Arts Museum. A master-plan approach was taken where the project was viewed as a tourist destination. To the Wearable Arts Gallery and Art Department were added a collection of seventy classic cars, facilities for the display of art and a café.

School of Business complex, The University of Auckland
The new $90 million Business School, currently under construction, is planned as a consolidation of the school’s widely dispersed activities into a single identity, strengthening ties with both staff and students, as well as with private industry and the broader community.

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