Wellington Scoop

Demolish and rebuild: new proposal for Municipal Office Building next to the Town Hall

This was the plan, till now, for the Municipal Office Building next to the Town Hall to become part of the Music School.

Wellington City Council staff are recommending that the Municipal Office Building next to the Town Hall should be demolished, and replaced. The building was to be part of the new National Music Centre.

Demolition is also being considered for the adjacent Civic Administration Building.

News from Wellington City Council
The Wellington City Council’s Strategy and Policy Committee will next Thursday consider the future of the Municipal Office Building (MOB) in Te Ngākau Civic Square. This is the planned home for a new National Music Centre (NMC).

“The National Music Centre is an exciting partnership between the Council, Victoria University of Wellington and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. It will hugely strengthen our reputation as the Creative Capital and bring more life to the heart of our city – Te Ngākau Civic Square,” says Mayor Andy Foster.

“The design work to strengthen and upgrade the building has been completed and the cost at $84 million means that it is uneconomic to strengthen the building without ongoing ratepayer funding. Because of the age and structure of the building the strengthening work would not deliver a highly resilient building which also may not be usable after an earthquake.

“Next week Councillors will be making some difficult decisions about the building’s future. Council officers’ preferred option has changed from strengthening it to demolishing it and building a new one.

“Under the planning rules the MOB is considered a significant building within the precinct. This would require a resource consent to demolish it and build a new structure. The planning laws set a high bar for demolitions to be approved, which may cause lengthy and costly delays.

“If adopted, $750,000 would be budgeted for in the 2021-2031 Long-term Plan for the consenting process for demolition. This would then be taken to the public for consultation.

civic admin building fate of

“We also recently settled the adjacent Civic Administration Building (CAB) insurance claim. CAB was significantly damaged in the Kaikoura earthquake. If both buildings were able to be demolished it would provide more scope as a community to reimagine Te Ngākau Civic Precinct.

“We need to consider the principles we want for the precinct’s future.

“As a starter it must be resilient. Buildings should be accessible and encourage activity in and around them. There may be opportunities to look at rooftop places and accommodate a variety of activities that attract a broad range of people to the precinct. It needs to be adaptable, beautiful, a place for events, music, entertainment, protests, celebrations, a place to enjoy and be proud of – a place for everyone, a place for life!”

“Wellingtonians want the heart of our city alive and beating again, and I know Councillors share my strong desire to make decisions quickly and get on with the job.

“While we make these decisions on MOB, CAB and the wider Te Ngākau civic precinct, the Town Hall seismic strengthening work is in full swing. It is a complex job, 462 piles are being drilled deep into the ground, new reinforced concrete floors being poured, 126 base isolators are being installed, and that’s just below or at ground level. We can all look forward to it reopening.”

Design work is also progressing for strengthening and modernising our much-loved Central Library.

You can read the paper in the agenda on the Council website: Strategy & Policy Committee – 10 December 2020, 9.30AM – Meetings – Wellington City Council

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  1. Conor Hill, 4. December 2020, 21:33

    The council was considering whether to subsidise VUW and the NZSO, by paying to house them? Is that about right? [via twitter]

  2. Hel, 4. December 2020, 21:49

    Conor, I actually read it the other way around that the Council were looking to avoid subsidising them.

  3. Toni, 5. December 2020, 21:04

    Whatever way it is read, the council should not expect Wellington ratepayers to subsidise VUW and/or our national orchestra (NZSO), particularly when they were discussing a 23% rate rise to accommodate the failing infrastructure and everything else going wrong in the city. If the council commits to subsidising these two entities, then they’d better expect a massive ratepayers’ revolt, as we have had enough.

  4. Keith Flinders, 6. December 2020, 11:28

    Perhaps if we petitioned the WCC to reduce the salaries of staff and councillors to the level that pensioners and beneficiaries survive on, then these expensive notions they keep coming out with might evaporate.

    With interest rates at an all time low, many of those reliant on returns from their investments put aside for retirement are most impacted by yet more costs to cover.

  5. Concerned Wellingtonian, 6. December 2020, 11:36

    Why shouldn’t they subsidise VUW and NZSO when they are subsidising a developer by paying for a proper road to Shelly Bay?

  6. Ruth, 6. December 2020, 14:00

    “The National Music Centre is an exciting partnership between the Council, Victoria University of Wellington and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.” For exciting read expensive. Nice to have if we have money to spare but we obviously don’t, going by the proposed rates increase. If I ran my home budget like this I’d be rightly criticised for wasting money and told to attend to the basics first.

  7. K, 7. December 2020, 10:37

    Are they seriously suggesting ANOTHER major new building project at a time when they are projecting a massive rate rise due to excess spending? These buildings are unoccupied at present, so the need for them to be rebuilt/repaired is highly debatable. How about we just demolish them and leave the space as a park – that way it can be enjoyed by the public now, and is still available as a future construction site for civic buildings in a long term scenario when the financial situation has improved and the neglected basics have been addressed (three waters work etc)

  8. Traveller, 7. December 2020, 10:40

    A bigger more open Civic Square park is a great idea. But what’ll happen to the homeless Music School, that is/was going to occupy the building?

  9. K, 7. December 2020, 11:01

    @traveller: Presumably the music school can continue operating wherever it has been for the last several years? (And they will be able to take advantage of the Town Hall once it’s finished, for performances.)

  10. Ms Green, 7. December 2020, 11:09

    Homeless my foot! Poor Victoria University, about to cut hundreds of staff! Vic University currently has tons of empty property, some of it new and some of it heritage. That was before the downturn in international students. It should look to enhancing its vital education role instead of being a property developer. It is not up to the ratepayers to fund its vagaries. I hope that any new home for the Music School can be housed in the best possible University property, if it is indeed homeless, which it is not.

  11. michael, 7. December 2020, 18:11

    What’s with WCC as they just don’t seem to get it! Their major responsibility is our failing infrastructure yet they are still carrying on about the VUW music school and the NZSO, neither of which is their responsibility. We cannot afford these nonessential notions, but the WCC seem incapable of acknowledging and accepting this.