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Supreme Court Building Design Unveiled

Supreme Court Building Design Unveiled

The design of the new Supreme Court building is unveiled.


Minister for Courts Rick Barker today unveiled the design for the new Supreme Court building.

"This is a building of great significance to New Zealand as it will serve our country for at least 100 years. The design incorporates the old and the new. Once constructed the Supreme Court will be an architectural legacy," Rick Barker said.

"The Supreme Court building will be a significant addition to Wellington's and New Zealand's public buildings and will be a heritage site for the future. Buildings such as the old Government building and Parliament buildings help develop a strong sense of national identity, and so too will the new Supreme Court building," said Rick Barker.

The design concept provides for a new two level building on Lambton Quay, between Whitmore and Ballance Street that harmoniously connects with the old High Court building.

"The Justice Park site will be utilised to host the new building, we always planned to use this land for development purposes. I am pleased that it will still be associated with justice through its use by the Supreme Court.

"A large proportion of the construction project will include the restoration and enhancement of the old High Court building. The old High Court building hasn't been used since 1993, so it will be good to see the old building back in use again and once again associated with Justice.

"It was decided that the new Supreme Court building should reflect the era in which it was built. The overall design concept is a modern interpretation of the old High Court building and incorporates an external bronze screen with a free-standing courtroom as the central focus of the building with the courtroom being visible from the outside.

"Once completed the building will have an educational role. As is the case with Parliament, tours will be available so the public can be better informed about the New Zealand legal system and its history," said Rick Barker.

The new building will be surrounded by landscaped areas for outdoor seating use by members of the public and visitors to the Court. There will also be outdoor seating around the old High Court building.

"The building has been designed in accordance with sustainable design policies and with low energy use in mind. A lot of the technology incorporated into the design is leading edge. It will utilise displacement ventilation and solar heating and may also utilise ground source energy exchange," said Rick Barker.

There has been extensive consultation on the development of the design concept which has included the Supreme Court Judiciary, Historic Places Trust, Ministry for Culture and Heritage, Ministry for the Environment and the Wellington City Council.

The designers of the new Supreme Court building is architectural firm Warren and Mahoney. Director, Roy Wilson, said the design brief required that the Supreme Court building was befitting of the highest Court in the land.

"The concept of the free-standing, visible courtroom will act as a metaphor for promoting 'justice to be transparent and open'. Similarly judges will preside in the court space at eye-level with legal colleagues and the public to encourage an atmosphere of inclusiveness. The new building will be surrounded by a bronze screen depicting the strength, durability and stature of the Pohutukawa and Rata tree. The building environment will have a uniquely New Zealand atmosphere," said Mr Wilson.

Rick Barker says that the Historic Places Trust and a leading Conservation Architect, who was commissioned by the Ministry of Justice to assess the design concept in relation to its effects on the old High Court building, have expressed support for the design concept.

"The Historic Places Trust have been extensively involved in the development of the design and have said they support the project and also concur with the Conservation Architect's assessment that on balance, and considering all aspects of the proposed upgrading using recognised criteria, there is a very positive heritage benefit in the planned work, " said Rick Barker.

The cost of the proposed design concept includes restoration of the old High Court building (estimated at $25.3 million) and construction of a new Supreme Court building (estimated at $39.8 million).

"Almost half of the cost of the project is the cost of restoring the old High Court building.

"The indications from the Wellington City Council are that the Resource Consent is likely to be notified. This will give the public an opportunity to make submissions on the application, "said Rick Barker.

The Supreme Court is currently using a temporary courtroom and registry in the lower ground floor of the Wellington High Court. If the project gets Resource Consent, the aim is to begin construction in May 2007. It is expected construction will be completed by early/mid 2009.


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