by Lindsay Shelton
A visiting Canadian academic last month decided to offer a cash reward to a New Zealander who came up with the best idea to promote an incremental change that could make a difference. His choice: he sent his cheque to Richard Reid, the Auckland architect who has developed the second option to solve traffic problems at the Basin Reserve without a flyover.
Richard Reid’s alternative plan for the Basin has been known about for some time, but not by the public. Though he presented it to Wellington city councillors earlier this year (six months after they voted against the flyover), there’s strangely been no acknowledgement of it in any public forum. Its existence didn’t become public knowledge till last week when Paul Bruce persuaded his fellow regional councillors to reverse their decision to support the flyover plan. In his persuasive speech, he mentioned the existence of the Aucklander’s alternative.
The visiting Canadian, Gordon Price who heads the City Programme at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, wanted to support a New Zealand project already underway … with some small gesture of sustainability, and offering an alternative to what he called “motordom excesses.” He describes his decision on his website. He says he decided to give his cash to Richard Reid after the architect told him:
I would like to use the money to pay for the printing and binding of colour drawings to illustrate an alternative design which my practice has prepared for a motorway project in Wellington.
Our alternative design avoids the need to build a flyover and will therefore protect the city’s historic urban structure, keeping vehicle movement on the ground and integrated with the city where it belongs.
Our alternative design offers a whole lot of other benefits as well, including enhanced public space and protected heritage features, and will save the country NZ$100 million if the flyover is not built. Hence, the money will not only go towards a good cause, it will help return huge dividends socially, economically and environmentally.
Richard Reid, who worked with leading architects in Sydney and London before returning home 15 years ago, provides more information on the website of his Auckland architectural practice:
We have a couple of news features on the [Basin Reserve] project on our website here and here. (We are keeping the details of our design confidential at this stage.)
This is the fifth nationally important transport infrastructure project we have developed an alternative design for, with the previous four adopted and implemented almost in their entirety by the New Zealand Transport Agency and the former Auckland City Council. You can see these projects on our website at: www.richardreid.co.nz (look under Projects – Infrastructure).
I met Richard Reid when he was in Wellington earlier this week. He’s passionate about the plans which he has prepared for the Basin Reserve, and he’s confident that they would solve any of the problems identified by the Transport Agency which is so stubbornly sticking to its 1950s flyover concept. I’m expecting that he’ll very soon be able to outline his plans to regional councillors, to help them reassess what needs to be done at the Basin.
The vision of his company is summarised in a way which seems as if it had been written about the issues at the Basin Reserve.
The holistic design of our cities requires both a critical and creative approach. Sometimes the way relatively small details are resolved can change how a city grows and prospers. Lateral thinking and unforeseen visions can transform the image that a city has of itself. Successful cities recognise these moments as opportunities to invest in a better future. Our practice is dedicated to creating these outcomes.
Wellingtonians should be demanding such outcomes for the Basin Reserve.