The reasons why the convention centre plans must be improved

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Wellington architectural critic Maximus is calling for improvements to the plan for a Hilton Hotel and Convention Centre opposite Te Papa.

He writes that it’s a good proposal for Wellington, and should be encouraged to go ahead, but with some strong urban design amendments.

In a submission to the city council he states:

This scheme is a potential killer of street life and needs to be adapted to improve its fit into the city. Convention Centres and large hotels can be, and often are, bland and deadly dull interventions into the cityscape, and as currently proposed this has the potential to be the same. Architecturally the convention centre at ground floor is bland and monotonous along the street edge to the front, and we know nothing about the extent towards the rear. What we do know however is that the site exists in an area that could link together many parts of the downtown Te Aro area.

There’s more

The Council’s much-vaunted desire to build a system of small scale Laneways through the city, as evidenced by the work put into the Opera House Lane, could be adapted and enhanced by this project, adding to the vibrancy and permeability of the city. Or it could ignore its own advice, and build a bland, blank, monument to corporate functions with little or no interaction with the city. We, the people of Wellington, need to ensure that it is the former, and not the later.

Read Maximus’s article (and his readers’ comments) in full here.
Read also
The council states its case for supporting a convention centre
Laneway planned as part of new 300-bed hotel in Auckland



  1. Elaine Hampton, 12. August 2014, 17:09

    A lot of smoke and mirrors here.
    Where is the business case, sound evidence we need another large hotel? If the business case was sound, would speculators want public money and to share profits?

  2. Nora, 12. August 2014, 17:30

    There is another large hotel being completed in Bolton Street, opposite the current Bolton and within walking distance of Parliament, Government departments, High and Environment Courts, Cathedral, Stadium and Universities. I understand it will have a 5 star rating.

  3. Hel, 12. August 2014, 22:18

    Took the time to look at the Council website and was pleasantly surprised to see a pretty comprehensive business case. Might be in a minority but I actually think it looks fine and is a major upgrade on the graffiti plagued car park that is there now.

  4. Maximus, 12. August 2014, 23:33

    Elaine – the business case is for the Convention Centre, not the Hotel. It is available on the Council’s website. Makes interesting reading – I suggest you read it.

  5. Ian Apperley, 13. August 2014, 7:26

    It’s another case of consultation with the evidence behind it being “just trust us”.

    The Council cites a number of reports but releases none of them.

    If they were being up front and transparent in this process, then they would release those publicly so that interested members of the community could judge for themselves.

    One can dream, right?

  6. Rosamund, 13. August 2014, 13:18

    I sought and received the full business case and legal opinion using LGOIMA. Sadly much linking and financial information was blacked out.

    My submission in opposition is centred simply on my not supporting the funding of a private developer in alliance with a hotel chain. The publicity for this project ignores this fundamental truth. We the people of Wellington are going to fund this project over the next 20 years in the guise of a fee to lease of approx. $3.5m per year.

  7. Esjay, 13. August 2014, 17:11

    Well said Rosamund. What is there in the Business Case or the proposal which states that Wellington will be the only Convention Centre over and above all others in the country?

  8. Michael Gibson, 13. August 2014, 19:41

    Blimey, Rosamund, well done!
    I mentioned the fact that they had a legal opinion when I spoke in “Public Participation” on a report on the Convention Centre which was being considered by the Council. As usual, they were very anxious to keep the contents quiet. I wonder why? Emboldened by your success, I will now ask again for a copy.


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