A tour of the new library and civic centre, Te Whare Whakatere, was an opportunity to show off the district's new asset, with construction on track to open later this year.
It looks big and it is.
The current library is around 900msq and the new library space - the majority of the bottom floor and half the first floor, totals 2500msq — just under three times the size.
A highlight is the large “performance space”, a room with terraced seating, bathed in natural light as it backs onto the rear courtyard, which will have a playground area.
Project manager Logic Group director, Shaun Pont, described it as a “flexible space” that can host performances, events, public meetings, or utilising the large LED screen.
The first floor also has several bookable meeting rooms of varying sizes, and another feature is the maker space, “an arts and crafts” space equipped with things like sewing machines and 3D printers, Pont said.
There is also an espresso bar, sound room and the architectural feature of the historic Pioneer Hall that has been absorbed into the complex and converted into a children’s library.
The Civil Defence emergency operations centre is a separate wing at the rear of the building, and is something Mayor Neil Brown said “they hope not to have to use too often”.
The space will also be available for community use.
On level two is the council chamber, Hine Paaka, and some offices with most of the council stationed up on level 2.
Chief executive, Hamish Riach, wouldn’t be drawn into confirming anything around an opening date yet, “but hope to be able to announce an opening date next month”.
“We’re still on track to move in before the end of the year.
“The building is being completed from the top down, which makes an easier exit for the contractors, so the ground floor is the busiest and most congested at this point.”
Most days there are around 150 contractors on site as they work towards completing the complex three-storey build, Pont said.
Planning is underway for an official public opening which will occur after the council and library have moved into the new complex, Riach said.
“We are actually moving two workspaces into one, so it is a big job.”
The council administration building and the library will be tackled as two separate moving projects, Riach said.
The library will close for around three weeks during the transition from the old building to the new.
In the administration building, no services to the public will change.
Progress is also being made in the Baring Square redevelopment.
With the hoardings outside the new civic building now moved, contractors have been able to bring heavy machinery onto the site, Riach said.
“The next couple of weeks will see good progress preparing grassed areas and installing hard features, like seats.”
The Boer War Memorial is planned to be relocated on Friday to a stone mason’s workshop for special restoration, before moving to Baring Square West alongside the other war memorials.
By Jonathan Leask