Published 13 May 2008
Votes by 2500 people have placed the Auckland War Memorial Museum at the top of a list of 30 buildings & places as the best in Auckland, and the Newton Comfort Inn & Suites on Newton Rd as the worst.
The quickfire survey was run over a fortnight by Ignite Architects Ltd (Jeremy Whelan). Ignite commissioned the survey to find out what the public really think about Auckland’s landscape and open discussion about issues relating to the development of the city.
Mr Whelan said of the winner: “People often respond to the familiar. Buildings that are truly authentic & memorable often stand out. People see historical buildings generally as permanent, durable, having a quality element & a strong sense of place.”
Commenting on recent city residential developments, Mr Whelan said: “The public have noticed the trend in the poor quality of hotel, residential & apartment buildings that have appeared within the city environment.
“Some are issues of poor urban design and others, such as the Hobson St precinct, are simply poor design, with repetitive monolithic buildings that offer little amenity to the user and do not contribute to the public realm.”
The Newton Rd building’s general manager, Trish Miles, said: "Every cloud has a silver lining. I’ve been hoping for a year now to have it painted. I’ve got a photo on my desktop showing everyone what the new paintjob could look like. This sort of publicity is just what I need to persuade the powers that be to get the building painted sooner rather than later. But to me the building is like a person. It’s lovely on the inside, so you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.”
Mr Whelan said Ignite would continue to analyse the trends that come from this survey, to better inform its own work: “The results will be used to build up a database of best & worst buildings over time, start to record Auckland’s history and how it changes over time.
“We are committed to the survey. We may also look to include other main cities in New Zealand. Ignite Architects wish the survey to be an annual event and a public forum to debate architecture in our city.”
The survey had some quirks – the bright green Comfort Inn, for example, made it up to 25th on the best list. No 30 on the best list was the Downtown shopping centre, which was rated No 5 on the worst list. Second-worst was the Auckland City Council’s civic administration building, which was rated 23rd on the best list.
The Sky Tower was 6th on the best list, but also 10th on the worst list.
Comments from Mr Whelan:
Another feature which people often acknowledge is those buildings which create a strong sense of place. Often many modern commercial buildings lack the visual elements that create a strong quality feelComposite cladding materials do not give permanence when viewed against stonework in buildingsThe Auckland Museum & the Auckland Ferry Building are buildings featuring permanent materials. It is interesting that West Plaza, although more modern, is well liked, also due to the permanence of the materials and the way they are used in the composition of the buildings. Due to their prominent locations within the city, a good building will reveal different things about itself when viewed from different distancesStrong, iconic & permanent-feeling buildings are what the public value over modern, slick, curtain-walled glazed buildings. This is emphasised by Chancery, West Plaza, Metropolis, Sky Tower & Cumulus in Parnell, being the 3rd, 4th, 5th, 6th & 7th-best buildings.
Website: Best & worst
2 May 2008: 1000 vote in 2 days on Auckland’s best & worst
28 April 2008: Best & worst in Auckland – what’s your view?
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Attribution: Ignite release, story written by Bob Dey for this website.