$6 million to breathe new life into a 1920s building across the road from the Lighter Basin in the Wynyard Quarter, with fitout still to come?
That’s the price of doing exemplar, 5 green star, seismically upgraded refits, to demonstrate the quality Waterfront Auckland wants to see in the quarter between the Westhaven marina and the downtown waterfront.
Council-controlled Waterfront Auckland and architects Warren & Mahoney celebrated completion last week of the restoration of the unreinforced masonry Lysaght building, on the corner of Pakenham St West & Halsey St, which was built in 1927 and derives its name from the original occupant, the John Lysaght steel company.
The building was last used by a sailmaker, but its future will be as part of the Grid – the innovation precinct the council, waterfront agency, (Ateed) Auckland Tourism Events & Economic Development Ltd and the Ministry of Science & Innovation signed a memorandum of understanding on 4 years ago.
Waterfront Auckland project director Daniel Khong said the Lysaght building would be the first permanent part of the innovation precinct. Some 1980s buildings alongside it on Halsey St have been adjusted temporarily as part of the precinct.
It has 1800m² of floorspace on 2 levels, has a number of retained features and some which have had to be replaced. Timber pillars around the exterior have been replaced by concrete. Project architect Simon Dodd said some of the timber columns had been sent to iwi carvers to provide artwork for the tenancy fitout.
The window sills were 2.4m above floor level – fine when it was a warehouse, not so for office tenants – and the windows have been lowered by a metre.
On the north side, the building has been opened up above a new lane, which required cutting away of some of the neighbouring building which used to link to the Lysaght building. Occupants will be able to open sliding doors for natural ventilation, but without a deck. They will have a mesh screen for sun protection & safety. The 45m lane will be open at all times and is the start of the laneway network being introduced to break up large blocks through the whole quarter.
The old roof has been turned into a ceiling, and a new roof with insulation will be added on top.
The building was one of 5 deemed to have character value under the Wynyard Quarter provisions of the district plan, and work began early last year on its transformation into an innovation precinct working space. The upgrade has included full compliance with earthquake standards.
Warren & Mahoney’s design for the transformation included the addition of a mezzanine floor, a new moveable façade on the northern face and the liberal use of glass to ensure visibility of the building’s character details.
Project director Daniel Khong said it was great to be involved in breathing new life into the space: “From the rustic masonry to the worn beams in the building’s roof, the Lysaght building has immense charm and it’s great to be able to honour that with this refurbishment. The building is a key part of the fabric of the area with its prominent corner site, and it’s only appropriate it lives on as a thriving workspace for creative & innovative businesses.”
One of the council’s business arms, Ateed, holds the lease and has appointed Bizdojo to manage the premises. The internal fitout is set to begin next month and tenants are expected to move in by September, when the building becomes a cornerstone space for the Grid.
“This project has retained the character of the original industrial building while future-proofing its structure. Lysaght will be an exciting place to work for innovative, startup companies,” said Mr Dodd.
13 October 2011: Officialdom launches road to a business case for Wynyard innovation precinct
Attribution: Site visit, Waterfront Auckland and Warren & Mahoney releases.