Wellington Town Hall’s Future

Debate around the future of Wellington’s earthquake-prone historic town hall is rearing its head again after Wellington City Council CEO Kevin Lavery asked councillors to seriously consider whether it’s worth upgrading:

As Mr Lavery briefed councillors yesterday on plans to strengthen the 109-year-old building at a cost of $43.7m, he said the project was “an awful lot of money for zero return”, when what the city really needed was a purpose-built convention centre.

“Is it [the town hall] important enough to justify the amount of spend?”

Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said the town hall “wasn’t saved in the 1970s for me to swing a wrecking ball now”.

Short answer, yes.

Wellington lost most of its historic buildings in the 1970s and ’80s to gaudy modern monstrosities because of attitudes like this. It’s disingenuous to claim there is “zero return” for any upgrade to the town hall. As the mayor says it has huge cultural and heritage value and its acoustics and status as a music venue were world-class.

Nevertheless the usual suspects have no objections to seeing it go:

Property Council president Ian Cassels called the town hall a “white elephant”, and said it was unacceptable “to throw $43 million” at it for “a third time in its relatively short lifespan”.

Shock horror! No surprises that the same man that wants to demolish Erskine College wants to see the town hall flattened.

Wellington Historic Places chairman John Daniels backed the mayor, saying the town hall was a vital piece of the city’s heritage, a lovely Edwardian building and a keystone of the civic centre.

Any suggestion that it be demolished would be a terrible idea, and building a new convention centre would probably cost a lot more than the council was spending now.

“It’s a city landmark and you don’t get rid of those lightly.”

Absolutely. Kevin Lavery has proposed some sensible initiatives, but leveling the Town Hall as a budget saving measure and replacing it with a convention centre is just ridiculous.




2 responses to “Wellington Town Hall’s Future

  1. Reblogged this on Concise Comment and commented:
    Interesting questions. Is the town hall really world class in terms of musical acoustics? Also do we know how many staff will need to be accommodated by 2018?

  2. I’m not an acoustic engineer, but the Town Hall’s acoustics are apparently very good for classical music. And (too my untrained ears) all the other music events I have attended there have sounded great, with a great atmosphere. Are you talking about Council staff? I’d assume most council staff are accommodated in the large neighboring building, rather than the actual Town Hall space/venue which houses the mayor’s office and council chamber etc so any reduction would impact that space the most.

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