8 August 2005
Central City Library redevelopment marks new chapter
The Central City Library is ready to start a new chapter in its future as it today reveals exciting new design concepts
intended to transform the library into a focal point in Auckland’s CBD.
The $2 million redevelopment project by Auckland City aims to attract more than one million visitors to the library a
Councillor Cathy Casey, chairperson of the Community Development and Equity Committee says: “The innovative plans for
the Central City Library will mean Aucklanders will have a world-class facility at their fingertips.”
The refurbishment will create a more welcoming look and feel for the library and will include a new combined café and
library entrance, revised shelving and collection layouts, and a casual news media zone.
The group manager of Auckland City Libraries, Allison Dobbie, says: “The Central City Library is already a very
well-patronised, essential service but we’d like to see it become an even stronger focal point.
"The three key drivers for the new design which were identified through customer feedback as the most important things
to address were to increase visibility, access and awareness of the library.
“The design includes the creation of a corner café within the library. This is also based on unanimous customer feedback
so we are hoping the café will lead people by their senses towards fresh coffee and good books.
“We’re taking bold steps with the redevelopment, but we’re looking forward to being able to offer our customers new and
improved services and more cutting edge technology,” she says.
The design has been a joint venture between GHD's architectural division (formerly council's City Design group) and
Athfield Architects Ltd. Ian Athfield and Louise Ryan of Athfield Architects have worked with Russell Hawken of GHD to
produce an imaginative and functional design.
The design architect, Ian Athfield, says redeveloping a major public landmark like the Central City Library is an
exciting and challenging project.
"The project team has been working to develop a design that complements other key projects included in the CBD upgrade
and urban design enhancement, such as the Art Gallery redevelopment and the Lorne Street streetscape.
“Libraries are a cornerstone in just about every community and Auckland’s Central City Library should be a key focus for
the city. This project aims to increase visibility and awareness of the library and draw people in through improved
street thresholds," says Mr Athfield.
The concept plans will go to the Urban Design Panel later this month for feedback.
From 10 August, Auckland City will be seeking expressions of interest for a contractor to carry out the physical works
for the first stage of the project. The work is expected to begin later this year.
The upgrade will mean that there will be limited access to sections of the library during the construction period
between late October 2005 and March 2006.
The redevelopment is a key project in Auckland’s CBD Into the future strategy to revitalise the CBD into one of the
world’s most vibrant and dynamic business and cultural centres.
The vision behind the
Central City Libraries redevelopment
The key objectives of the upgrade are to:
- create greater visibility and awareness of the building and improve the access in and out of the building
- make the building more open and inviting to customers so as to increase the total number of visits to the Central
- ensure the library and surrounding streetscape complement each other and enhance the sense of a cultural precinct
- to improve the threshold and active edges of the building by adding a café to the mix of offers
- rework some floor plans to make more efficient use of the space in a more attractive manner
- improve and provide direction within the current site and immediate environment, so that people can:
find the building and know where it is within the central city environment
- easily find their way around the building
- easily find what they are looking for; and
- enjoy the space and experience in a positive manner and so be encouraged to return.
Upgrade details – what will change?
Included in the plan is:
- a new entrance on the corner of Wellesley and Lorne Streets will be created, incorporating a café to be run by a
retail operator. This café would have internal access to the existing library. The café will highlight the northwestern
corner of the library building and will have the ability to be open beyond library opening times
- the existing entrance via Lorne Street (southwest) will be retained with some modifications to improve navigation
within the library
- the general layout and use of the space will be improved. Space, layout and displays will be enhanced.
The Central City Library was opened on its present site in 1971, with a second stage completed at the end of 1982.
From 1996, there was a major refurbishment of the building, in particular the opening up of the Heritage Floor.
The design architects behind the
Central City Library redevelopment
Athfield Architects Limited
The award-winning architectural firm Athfield Architects Ltd will oversee the redevelopment Auckland’s Central City
The Wellington-based firm is recognised for its skills and excellence in the design, development and refurbishment of
high-profile public buildings, including libraries.
The partnership won numerous awards for its redevelopment of Wellington’s Civic Centre and Public Library, including the
1993 New Zealand Institute of Architects’ National Award.
The firm also won the 1997 New Zealand Institute of Architects National Award for its redevelopment of the Palmerston
North City Library.
More recently, it was recognised for its work with Architectus on Christchurch’s Jade Stadium for which it won the 2003
New Zealand Institute of Architects’ Supreme Award.
The jury presenting that award commented: “Extremely clever thinking and design has overcome a very complex set of
requirements to deliver a world-class facility to the home of Canterbury rugby. This Athfield / Architectus design is a
simple, direct and yet very effective response.”
Athfield Architects was established in 1968 by Ian Athfield, one of the country’s most widely respected architects.
Under his guidance the practise has continually demonstrated a commitment to architectural solutions that make the most
of the surrounding natural environment, while at the same time producing innovative buildings.
In the past 30 years the firm has accumulated more than 60 awards for its work.
Athfield Architects has carried out a considerable amount of preliminary work and research to develop a design for the
Auckland Central City Library. It has canvassed the needs of Auckland City, user groups and other stakeholders to ensure
the design meets the interests of all involved.
Ian Charles Athfield
Dip Arch, DLit, FNZIA, CNZOM
Ian Athfield is recognised as one of the most influential architects in New Zealand.
He is a recipient of the New Zealand Institute of Architects’ highest honour, the Gold Medal, which he received in 2004
for his outstanding contribution to architecture.
The 2004 NZIA jury said Athfield had produced a “consistently high-quality body of work” which has had a “profound
influence on the built environment of this country”.
Athfield has won a host of awards throughout his career, including winning an International Design Competition for
Housing in Manila, Philippines in 1976.
His services to architecture were recognised in 1996 when he was made a Companion to the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Athfield has been the subject of many books, articles and films and has significant expertise in the realm of public
He has also been involved in teaching with Victoria University and has been a keynote speaker at various international
Some of Athfield’s major projects include: the Wellington Civic Centre and Public Library, Canterbury University’s
Commerce Building, the refurbishment of Wellington’s State building and the redevelopment of Christchurch Polytechnic
Institute of Technology.
Louise Jayne Hikihiki Ryan
Ryan graduated from Victoria University of Wellington with first class honours in 2000. In 1999 she participated in the
Pennsylvania State University (USA) Sede di Roma Architecture programme in Rome, Italy.
Ryan is of Maori descent and has a specific interest in buildings for the cultural and visual arts.
She has worked on a range of projects throughout New Zealand including the Atiawa Waka House and Cultural Centre at
Waiwhetu Marae in Lower Hutt; Wellington’s Mervyn Kemp library; Victoria University Gateways and Pathways project and
Waitangi Park. She is currently also involved in extending the Lincoln University library.
Key Athfield Architects Ltd projects
Jade Stadium, Christchurch
Athfield Architects, Architectus and Ellerbe Becket
This complex project involved designing a world-class facility to be the home of Canterbury rugby. Athfield Architects
overcame a complicated set of requirements and logistical issues to develop what’s been called an elegant yet robust
stadium. The design offers an attractive public space at street level while also meeting the needs of thousands of
patrons. This design won the 2003 NZIA Supreme Award.
Scotts College Preparatory School, Wellington
Athfield Architects Ltd
This major refurbishment project was awarded the 2004 NZIA Resene Wellington Local Award for Architecture. The NZIA jury
commented on the strong composition of the design, along with the crisp detailing and robust construction. It considered
the project to be “a very functional, yet stimulating environment”. This design also received the NZIA Resene Colour
Award for 2004.
Wellington Civic Centre and Public Library, Wellington
This bold design incorporated old and new buildings with open space. Ian Athfield undertook a tour of libraries in the
United States and Scandinavia before developing his plan for the Wellington Public Library. The design features open
planning, hi-tech interiors and extensive use of glass and water. The resulting building was awarded the 1993 NZIA
National Award and the 1992 Carter Holt Harvey Environmental Award.
Adam Art Gallery, Victoria University of Wellington, Wellington
The design of the country’s first university art gallery is unusual and offers a very different exhibition space to an
ordinary gallery. The building’s geometry is unique because the design had to fit with the surrounding campus buildings
and incorporate the existing Culliford staircase. Athfield Architects won a 1999 NZIA Regional Award for this project.
Palmerston City Library, Palmerston North
The NZIA awarded this library design its 1997 National Award. This building incorporates historic and modern design
elements in a way that seeks to challenge perceptions about public library architecture. The philosophy behind this
building was to create ‘a living room for the city’ and it offers a range of spaces to cater for the varying needs of
Canterbury Museum, Christchurch
Athfield Architects have been commissioned to redevelop the historic Canterbury Museum building. The project will
feature a new full-height atrium, but at the same time it will ensure that the original historic building is preserved
and remains a key feature of this facility.
GHD is an international professional services company. Its people deliver innovative solutions by combining technical
expertise and experience with an understanding of their clients’ objectives and aspirations.
GHD serves the global markets of infrastructure, mining & industry, defence, property & buildings and the environment. The company has enjoyed corporate stability and sustained growth, built upon a
reputation for professional, reliable and ethical service for more than 75 years. GHD has a strong presence in New
Zealand with over 350 personnel in twelve offices throughout the country.
Globally GHD employs architects with experience in almost every building type including residential, retail, resort,
commercial and corporate office development, aerospace, telecommunications, religious, industrial, transport,
educational and defence projects. The company provides an integrated design approach that encompasses a broad base of
design disciplines. This is achieved by drawing from an internal team of professionals to fully inform the design
The built environment presents some of the most complex challenges to today’s society and to the design professionals
who shape it. Projects can no longer be addressed in simple terms, as the community demands performance in every aspect
of the development cycle.
GHD is committed to delivering innovative projects that integrate social, cultural, economic and political values into
sustainable design solutions.
BArch, Registered Architect, Dip Corporate Management, Life Fellow NZ Institute of Architects
Russell is a senior manager with GHD responsible for the management of a group comprising architects, structural
engineers, building/mechanical engineers and surveyors.
Russell has 30 years experience as an architect. He was a founding Director of Architects New Zealand, a company that
has carried out significant architecture projects including many in the public arena.
Prior to this Russell was the Architectural Manager for Works Consultancy. This position involved overseas work
requiring specialisation in justice projects (corrections & courts), project planning expertise and knowledge of contracts/contractual arrangements.
Russell has a wide range of experience in the design of varied building types both in New Zealand and overseas. He also
has considerable experience in contract management as Architect to the Contract / Contract Supervisor.
Russell has been a multi-disciplinary team leader of various large projects since 1980 including Napier Government
Centre (NZ$20M), Auckland High Court (NZ$40M) and Auckland District Court (NZ$50M). He was Team Leader for the AIDAB
(Australian International Development Assistance Bureau) prison master-planning project in PNG.