Library scoops awards

WINNER: The Birkenhead Library and Civic Centre has won two prizes at the 2010 Auckland Architecture Awards.WINNER: The Birkenhead Library and Civic Centre has won two prizes at the 2010 Auckland Architecture Awards.

THE Birkenhead Library and Civic Centre is among top winners in the 2010 Auckland Architecture Awards.

It won both the Public Architecture and Sustainable Architecture awards and was praised for the “control and manipulation of its natural light and air flow”.

Judges also praised the way the library has successfully reinvigorated community library use by offering a “warm expansive space that neither intimidates its users nor trivialises its function”.

“The role of libraries is changing and this really expresses the varied uses and different qualities of the modern library, including a drive-through book return,” architect and judging panel convener Daniel Marshall says.

The awards organised by the New Zealand Institute of Architects attracted a high number of entries, with 120 submissions.

Mr Marshall says the standard of entries shows that very high quality and exciting architect-designed buildings are being built across Auckland despite the economic recession.

“Through 10 years’ involvement in the awards, I have seen a considerable improvement in the quality of architecture in New Zealand,” Mr Marshall says.

“Part of the reason for that is economic and part is down to a wider understanding among clients of the importance of quality design.”

He says media and the internet also provide opportunities for wider and faster exposure to global ideas.

Mr Marshall was joined on the jury by Auckland architects Andrew Lister and Kate Rogan, University of Auckland School of Architecture and Planning head Sarah Treadwell and architectural photographer Patrick Reynolds.


Photo/s by: BEN WATSON
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Countdown to library launch

GETTING READY, above: The new Birkenhead library opens on December 17. An official opening will be held in February when work in Nell Fisher Reserve is finished.

Next week Birkenhead library users can at last set foot in a new $9 million library.

The library’s manager, Sharron Cleghorn, predicts people will love the building so much they won’t want to leave.

Mrs Cleghorn says it’s one of the few buildings that’s been constructed for the North Shore City Council that will be absorbed into the Auckland supercity next year.

Birkenhead’s old library in the heart of Highbury was demolished just over four years ago.

Major resource consent issues were the main cause of the lengthy delay before construction could begin.

On Friday at 5.30pm the temporary library closes and book lovers can look forward to visiting their new library from 10am on December 17.

A formal public opening ceremony is due to be held in February when landscaping in the surrounding Nell Fisher Reserve is finished.

The full cost of the project is about $9m, says Ms Cleghorn.

Construction costs accounted for $7.3m and a further $1.7m is being spent on fittings and books.

Visitors can look forward to enjoying stunning views across the Waitemata Harbour towards west Auckland, Auckland city and back to Devonport.

The new library reflects the fact that libraries are places of learning and recreational reading, says customer services team leader Megan Hayward.

Ms Hayward says the library has extensive studying space.

A community learning librarian will help provide programmes such as helping migrants with literacy skills.

Other features also include a drive-through dropoff point for library books, meeting space for small community groups and larger display space for the Birkenhead and Chelsea Sugar archives.

The North Shore Library Foundation is sponsoring three sculptures by Jeff Thompson that will be up in the reserve outside the library early next year.

Friends of Birkenhead Library and the foundation have also provided a commemorative book recognising library supporters over its 60-year history.

The new library’s opening and future supporters will also be acknowledged.


Photo/s by: BEN WATSON
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – The North Shore Times

Work starts on new library

UP AND AWAY: The first walls of the Birkenhead library are in place.UP AND AWAY: The first walls of the Birkenhead library are in place.

After a number of unanticipated delays, construction of the Birkenhead library is well under way.

Precast panels for the walls of the first floor have been lifted into place by crane, giving residents an insight into the dimensions of the long-awaited development.

Behind the scenes the library’s furniture has also been completed and technological details are being looked at.

The project is a week behind schedule after huge amounts of rock and rubble were found when excavating, causing developers to have to dig deeper, Birkenhead library project manager Sharron Cleghorn says.

A land slip at the edge of the reserve also contributed to the unexpected seven-day delay because the ground had to be stabilised before it could hold a crane, Ms Cleghorn says.

Council community services and parks committee chairman Tony Holman is disappointed that the project has not been brought back up to schedule.

“We’ve had a very long stretch of fine, dry weather,” he says.

“I really do hope that it can be made up.”

He was surprised that such delays were not accounted for in planning as the project has already long been in the pipeline.

“It’s quite ironic really, we’ve been without if for all this time and I think it will be ready in time to hand over to the new Auckland city,” he says.

But he still maintains that the library and social services complex will do well to meet the needs of the community.

Ms Cleghorn says there are always unexpected incidents associated with projects of this size but the complex is still expected to be complete by late December or early 2010.

But these delays are nothing compared with what the project has gone through in the past.

There have been lengthy delays since demolition of the old library began in 2005, with independent commissioners initially declining resource consent for the new library to be built on Nell Fisher Reserve.


Photo/s by: BEN WATSON
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Library delay could cost $2.2m

The new Birkenhead library could cost more than $9 million due to delays.

The library building and Civic Centre look set to be built on Nell Fisher Reserve by late 2009, with initial designs boasting 250 square metres of more floorspace than the old Birkenhead library.

North Shore City Council community services and parks committee members were surprised to hear the initial estimated building costs have increased to $9.5m. The original budget set in 2004-05 was $7.3m.

Committee chairman Tony Holman says the increased cost is a concern.

“Construction costs have gone up so much since the original plan, but we’ll have to find the extra money,” says Mr Holman.

“The additional cost won’t be carried by ratepayers though. We are looking at re-allocating funds from other projects.”

But councillor Margaret Miles says the full council hasn’t discussed this.

“That wasn’t discussed at the meeting. I understand some councillors are campaigning for lower rates but this is something the whole council has to look at.

“There has to be a discussion with the whole council,” she says.

She says if funds are re-allocated then other projects will be deferred or won’t happen, so there is still the potential that the increase will affect rates.

A governance and advisory group has been set up to monitor the project and make recommendations to the community services and parks committee.

The group consists of Mr Holman, councillors Joy Brett, Grant Gillon, Ann Hartley, Chris Darby, community services general manager Lorretta Burnett and two Birkenhead/Northcote Community Board members.

Mr Holman says the group is needed to make sure there are no more unnecessary problems or delays.

“If we get things wrong again I would hate to think of the consequences.”

The project has already been an embarrassment to the council.

It suffered long delays because the old library was demolished in 2005 before resource consent was secured to build the new library.

Hearing commissioners then turned down the consent application and the council was forced to reapply.

Further delays were caused when the owners of the Rawene Chambers building, opposite Nell Fisher Reserve, lodged an appeal in the Environment Court.

That court finally gave the project the go-ahead earlier this year.


Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Library gets go-ahead

A welcome “pre-Christmas present” has gone to Birkenhead residents having to put up with a long wait for a local library.

Building consent has just been granted for a new Birkenhead library, paving the way for construction to start in early 2009.

All those who have been working on and waiting for the library are delighted, says Northcote councillor Tony Holman.

“There has been much frustration in the past about the delays for this library, but today brings a very nice pre-Christmas present,” he says.

The old Birkenhead library was demolished in 2005 to make way for a bigger and more modern building.

But before building could start on the new library, independent commissioners denied it resource consent.

Council was forced to reapply, but that was appealed to the Environment Court by owners of the neighbouring Rawene Chambers building.

About $1.3 million of council money has been spent getting consents for the building and defending legal appeals.

A temporary library has been established at Birkenhead Leisure Centre during the three years of delays.

Mr Holman says the new council has made putting a new library in Birkenhead one of its top priorities.

“We’re well aware that many people have found it difficult to use the interim library and we’re conscious of the economic effects on Highbury town centre.

“We hope that the new library will help provide new enthusiasm for the use of the library and rejuvenate the centre,” he says.

The new library will house the Birkenhead/Northcote Community Board meeting rooms, the Citizens Advice Bureau, Plunket and the area’s community coordinator.


Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

New chapter for library

A new library is on the way for Birkenhead after years of delays.
REVISED DESIGN: Models of how Birkenhead library could look once it is completed in November 2009.

A new library is on the way for Birkenhead after years of delays.

Resource consent has been granted for a library at Nell Fisher Reserve, paving the way for it to be built starting in late November.

That ends three years of frustration for Birkenhead residents.

They have been without a library since June 2005, when North Shore City Council demolished the
area’s old library before it had consent to build a new one.

A month later, independent commissioners turned down its plans for a $6.5 million replacement library.

The council then attempted to rezone the reserve to pave the way for a library.

That was appealed in the Environment Court by Abraham Holdings, further delaying the set up of a new library.

North Shore mayor Andrew Williams says he knows being without a central library building has been difficult for residents.

Birkenhead lost a part of its heart and soul with the loss of its library and civic services, he says.

“I was very concerned at the ongoing delays in putting the matter right and I am pleased that the centre can now move to its next step.

“The 2662 square metre library and community facilities building will be an icon.”

Community services and parks committee chairman Tony Holman commends library workers for their patient wait in temporary accomodation.

Plunket, Citizens Advice Bureau and the area’s community coordinator were all moved when the old library was torn down.

An interim library building away from the Highbury town centre has not been well-used by residents.

“We’re well aware that many people have found it difficult to use the interim library and we’re conscious of the economic effects on Highbury town centre. We hope that the new library will help provide new enthusiasm for the use of the library and rejuvenate the Highbury town centre,” says Mr Holman.

Councillor Ann Hartley has called the decision to tear down the old library without consent for a new one a “$1 million mistake”.

She is pleased to see the library get consent but says that doesn’t excuse the delays and “incompetency” of council officers.

“Put it this way, I won’t be giving anyone a bonus. It’s the minimum output one would expect.”

The new library will be built to Green Star NZ status which evaluates building projects against eight environmental impact categories.


Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – North Shore Times

Birkenhead library gets green light

TUMBLING DOWN: Demolition work on Birkenhead library in July 2005. Library users are unlikely to see a new library until late 2009. The Environment Court has given the go-ahead for a new Birkenhead library on Nell Fisher Reserve but it is not expected to open until late 2009.

Abraham Holdings, which owns the Rawene Chambers building, opposite the reserve, lodged the Environment Court appeal.

The appeal challenged an independent commissioners’ decision to approve the rezoning of reserve land so a library could be built.

North Shore City Council library services manager Geoff Chamberlain is pleased the appeal has now been heard and a judgement in favour of the council announced.

“There has been a library on Nell Fisher Reserve for more than 50 years and it’s the ideal place for it.

“The new purpose-built library will provide a vital community focal point in Birkenhead’s civic centre and it’s a facility that will be hugely popular with the local community,” says Mr Chamberlain.

The Birkenhead library project has suffered long delays. Demoliton of the old library had already started in 2005 when independent commissioners declined the resource consent for the project.

The library, Plunket and the Citizens Advice Bureau have been working from cramped temporary premises.

Birkenhead library and civic centre project manager Sharron Cleghorn says the council is now working with its architects to redesign the building.

Ms Cleghorn says preliminary work indicates the council should be able to build within the new zoning requirements.

The council is keen to keep the planning process as straight-forward as possible, particularly after the delays, she says.

The appeal decision restricts the building’s height at the back corner to 9 metres rather than 11 metres to protect views from a neighbouring building, she says.

A total of $6.5 million is provided in the council’s 2006-16 city plan for the capital costs of the new building and these will be revisited after detailed design work.

The building is also planned to house a Citizens Advice Bureau, Highbury Plunket and the Birkenhead area office.


Photo/s by: MIKE KNOTT
Reprinted with permission: Auckland Now – The North Shore Times