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 THE WELLINGTON TOWN HALL

 

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Part of the Positively Wellington Venues
111 Wakefield Street, Wellington, New Zealand. P.O.Box 2199 Wellington.
Phone (04) 801 4231. Fax (04) 801-4277.
E-mail info@pwv.co.nz 
Website: www.pwv.co.nz

 

CURRENTLY CLOSED FOR EARTHQUAKE STRENGTHENING

 
Dynamic Cross Sections
Click images for larger and user-controllable views
Town Hall Home
Auditorium
Civic suite
Green Room
Ilott Theatre
Square Affair
West Court
West Gallery

In 1900 the Wellington City Council resolved to erect a Town hall and Architects were invited to send in competitive designs for a new town hall and municipal buildings to be sited on reclaimed land at the foot of Cuba street.
The competition was won by local Architect Joshua Charlesworth with a design in the classical Renaissance style, the construction being of load bearing ( non-reinforced ) brick walls laid in cement mortar and on concrete strip foundations. The brickwork of the walls was plastered, stucco-adorned and lined to simulate a stone building. Columns, cornices and other embellishments were moulded in concrete.
 
The Town Hall in about 1916 - cw the building in 2004 (below) from about the same vantage point.


The foundation stone was laid by the Duke of Cornwall and York in 1901 and the building was opened to public acclaim on 7 December 1904.
It was heralded a “well-planned, commodious and beautiful building” and “the experts and general public agreed in pronouncing the acoustic properties of the hall to be perfect” (Wellington Times). In 1906 the grand organ was assembled and installed. Wellington Town hall rated amongst the top ten of the world!
1922 saw the installation of the clock in the tower, however 10 years later both the clock and tower were removed as a precaution following the 1931 Napier earthquake. In following decades cornices, tall pediments, the portico, corinthian and ionic capitals were all removed to pre-empt further earthquake damage, the result being a somewhat plainer exterior than in the original design.

 

Assembling the organ in 1905-06
(click to enlarge)

The Town Hall in 2004 - The MFC is on the left, Civic Square on the right.

In the 1970s the construction of the Michael Fowler Centre next door put the future of the Town Hall in jeopardy. It did not meet the current seismic codes and would require extensive strengthening to be saved. In 1984 the council decided to preserve the building ( the quality of the concert chamber being a strong argument in its favour) and in 1989 voted for an integrated Civic Centre scheme.


On 31 December 1990 the doors of the Old town hall closed for ‘conservation and adaptation’ to begin. Mainzeal property and construction were contracted to strengthen, refurbish and redevelop the Wellington town hall using Works consultancy services for Architecture and heritage consultancy.
Seismic strengthening was a significant part of the project.

Demolition and restoration work revealed and reinstated original features which had been hidden under plaster work for many years. The main auditorium was fully renovated and restored, modernising the concert space including the installation of a hydraulic stage accessing the basement car park.
The new Ilott concert chamber was designed in the style of a traditional chamber music room.
The concert chamber seats 300 and the main auditorium 2000. The West Gallery and Williams and Adams gallery above were newly created spaces opening up the previously unused space between the town hall and Municipal building and providing entrances from the town hall onto the new Civic Square.

The town hall complex was reopened in time for the 1992 International Festival of the Arts.

(notes by Kirsty Chamberlain Dec 97)

 

 

Drawing Notes:

CAD drawings presented here are extracted from a 3D computer model of the Town Hall, created from on site laser measurements during 2004, and with reference to Works Consultancy Services paper plans of the building.
Thanks also to Mike Lamb of Lamb Design for access to various 2D CAD drawings of parts of the MFC and Town Hall.

Townhall Home | Auditorium | Civic Suite | Green Room | Ilott Theatre| Square Affair | West Court | West Gallery

 
   

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This page last updated Thursday, September 19, 2013