Wellington Scoop

VUW and NZSO sign deal for music centre to occupy part of new building on MFC carpark

carpark building
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News from VUW
Te Herenga Waka — Victoria University of Wellington and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) have reached another milestone in their development of the national music centre, with leasing of space in the new Michael Fowler Centre carpark development.

On Monday the University’s Council agreed to commit to a 25-year lease of levels one and two, and part of the ground floor, in the new building. The NZSO Board earlier confirmed its commitment to co-locating the space and will sub-lease level two from the University.

This new commitment between the University, NZSO and site developers Willis Bond means the national music centre will now occupy space in both the Michael Fowler Centre carpark development and the Wellington Town Hall, forming a hub of vibrant community engagement supporting greater access to music and the arts for the creative capital.

The Michael Fowler Centre carpark development was committed to by the Wellington City Council in September when it agreed to a 175-year ground lease with Willis Bond. The proposed GreenStar building will be multi-level and provides public spaces that increase connectivity between Te Ngākau Civic Precinct, the waterfront and the north end of Cuba St.

The University’s New Zealand School of Music — Te Kōkī (NZSM) will occupy part of the ground floor, where there will be a public-facing space to celebrate music. On level one, modern offices and state-of-the-art teaching spaces will be used by NZSM academic and administrative staff. There will also be spaces for collaboration between the NZSM and NZSO.

The NZSO will occupy part of level two as its administrative base, where it will also have sound-proofed practice rooms and ensemble rooms for its musicians.

Professor Jennifer Windsor, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Humanities, Social Sciences and Education, says: “Being located in this creative precinct will help us to add vibrancy to our city centre and bring us closer to community partners.

“We are delighted that the NZSM will share a dynamic and purpose-built space with our partners the NZSO. This will offer exciting opportunities for high-end learning and professional development for our students, as well as easy access to state-of-the-art teaching, rehearsal, research, and performance spaces.”

The national music centre is a collaboration between the University, NZSO and the Wellington City Council.

“The NZSO is excited to be part of the national music centre project. As a concept of national significance, it will be the NZSO’s first real home and will cement Wellington’s place as Aotearoa New Zealand’s arts, culture and heritage lighthouse,” says NZSO Chief Executive Peter Biggs.

“We see our partnership with Wellington City Council and the NZSM as an important collaboration enabling us to reach more of our young people, more of our communities and more of the world from a world-class facility.”

The new development will begin in late 2022. The NZSM anticipates it will open its teaching spaces to students in Trimester 1, 2026 and the NZSO will occupy the space from January 2026. The Wellington Town Hall remains on track to open in 2024.


  1. greenwelly, 8. December 2021, 9:41

    “The Wellington Town Hall remains on track to open in 2024.” The Track was/is 2023 … 2024 was a “may”, but good to get it out in the open now:
    Project manager Bede Crestani said the project may run into early 2024, rather than late 2023, but was still on track to be completed within budget.

  2. K, 9. December 2021, 11:29

    Can someone explain what is going on in that photo with the pedestrian boulevard cutting through Jervois Quay? Is that just a fantasy or will the traffic lights be removed and pedestrians will have right of way over 3 lanes of vehicle traffic?

  3. Traveller, 9. December 2021, 12:29

    You can ask the same question about Cable Street between Te Papa and the new Convention Centre. They’re separated by three lanes of traffic, with no plans for a pedestrian-only piazza. Probably: more traffic lights…

  4. Ms Green, 9. December 2021, 13:48

    It seems that picture has moved the new Willis Bond building to show green space when actually the building sits on top of most of it.
    Will the Jervois Quay crossing take the place of the proposed-to-be-demolished City to Sea bridge? Or will there be two Jervois Quay crossings as shown in Council maps?

  5. Jim, 9. December 2021, 15:17

    Ms Green – The little bit of green space on that site is likely to be retained, as it is on the portion of the site that is not buildable – the tip at the corner of Jervois and Wakefield. The rest of the site is a carpark. Going by the image we will be getting more green space between the new building and MF Centre.
    The crossing shown in the render is in place of the existing pedestrian crossing – obviously some liberties have been taken to make that prettier than it is.