Apparently this is the first stage with an apartment building to be developed at the rear of the site, presumably demolishing the fairly modern pinkish building there now; but going from what the Bison has shown us above, lets hope not!And why is it single storey? Why not 3-4 or more? seems like a pretty weird development.
Auckland City has just invested $70 million in upgrading its art gallery.
One major approach to new building is through the narrow gutted Khartoum Place - never a cheerful piece of urban design and one made less cheerful by a water feature that attracts more rubbish than inspired passers-by.
The whole is dominated by a tiled mural commemorating the centenary of women's suffrage in New Zealand.
The work is not great. It is barely adequate for the great cause it commemorates. Its aesthetic can best been described as 1980's cut and paste graphic design. But it has its powerful supporters who have taken to describing it in terms of some sacred and inviable monument. Successive mayors have latched on to their defense as an easy and popular cause.
The current mayor, Len Brown, has joined their ranks adding its protection to his list of 100 things he is going to achieve. (It seems odd to claim credit for something that will require no thought and nil effort on his part.)
While the mural remains in its current site, a grand urban design opportunity is lost.
To open up the stairway and remove the water feature will radically improve the whole area both physically and visually.
Defenders of the mural say it cannot be moved.
Expert opinion says it can.
After all if Transit New Zealand can move an entire heritage hotel, the Rob Roy, without disturbing a brick, it should not be beyond the wit or skill of Auckland City to move a few hundred ceramic tiles.
There is a simple resolution.
Khartoum Place commemorates the lifting of a siege in Sudan in 1885. A British Imperial adventure which not only had nothing at all to do with us, but when invited to contribute troops, we staunchly refused to do so.
Rename the place Kate Sheppard Place or Suffrage Place.
Rebuild the stairs to open up the entrance to the gallery.
Re-site the mural.
Commission a major sculpture by a woman sculpture, and we have more than a few up to that job, which will commemorate Suffrage and the brave women who fought for it in a way the greatness of what they did deserves.
Surely this would be a win for the Suffrage Movement, Urban Design, the rate and tax payers who have contributed $70 million on a grand new gallery, and public art.
This would seem to be just the kind of inclusive resolution we were promised by the mayor when he campaigned for his job and the mandate the population gave him.
Just doing nothing is a wimpish way to add to a list of 100 achievements.
Talk around Mayor Brown and do something major for this blighted part of town.
The owners of La Zeppa restaurant, the new Snapdragon in the Viaduct and The Matterhorn and Foxglove in Wellington are developing plans to open two new restaurants, which will have access from Fort Lane. The Queen's Theatre space will become a bar/bistro and the former Roxy Theatre will be a full service restaurant. Both spaces will have new mezzanine floors.
Another significant aspect of the development is a new pedestrian lane extending from Queen St through to Fort Lane, which is also getting a makeover under the Auckland City Council's new shared space programme - an urban design concept that aims to combine rather than separate the functions of a street.
The Fort Lane shared space design includes improved street lighting on building facades to create a safer environment, the removal of "street furniture", neon art work running along the lane and new paving.
The new lane from Queen St runs at ground level through the existing building, ramping down to a wider lane space at the Fort St end where it will be lit by "light chimneys" - voids descending through three levels from the top floor Boatshed room. The building also has a substantial basement area which, when it is waterproofed from the harbour's rising tides, will have access from the new Imperial Lane and Fort Lane.
What's unusual about the development is that, although the buildings have heritage protection on their Queen St frontage, it doesn't extend to the rear of the buildings which push through to Fort Lane. If it had wanted to, Phillimore could have demolished the rear site and put up a high-rise to match the glass and concrete ugliness that defines Auckland's CBD.