Progress Update: The Civic Administration Building

Image: courtesy Buildmedia and Jasmax

Image: courtesy Buildmedia and Jasmax

Since Love and Co won the tender for the iconic former Greys Avenue, Auckland Council Civic Administration Building in September last year we have been working hard to secure the necessary resource consent approvals.  As of last week we are very pleased to say that we have now gotten stage one approved!

Stage one of this development directly addresses the restoration, alteration and conversion of the historic “CAB” (the new name given to the building) to a residential building. It is great to finally get to this point after significant and comprehensive pre-application discussions with Auckland Council, Heritage New Zealand, and the Auckland Urban Design Panel.

The level of consultation and conversation that goes on around the development of this notable building is so great because of its rich history. After construction was completed on this building in 1966, the Civic Administration Building was New Zealand’s first and only “skyscraper”. Designed by a Hungarian emigrant, Tibor Karl (TK) Donner, who was appointed Chief Architect of the Auckland City Council from 1946 to 1967, the CAB used the most innovative building techniques of its time.

In fact some of the construction methods were so technically advanced that Donner and the structural engineer, Vern Coleman, went to North America and Europe to research other buildings and construction sites using the proposed methods.

While the CAB was the first skyscraper in New Zealand, it was certainly not the first in the world. Steel had to be imported; welders were specifically trained to work on the construction.  On a more personal level, Donner himself was so committed to his craft that he added features like grinding down old whiskey bottles to add to the decorative aggregate to give them a unique reflective quality that largely endures to this day. The Civic Administration Building is truly a testament to early New Zealand modernism.

CAB 1965

1965 – The construction of the Civic Administration Building at 1 Greys Avenue, Auckland Central.


Senior Lecturer for the School of Architecture at Victoria University, Robin Skinner, has said about the CAB;

The desire for modernism did not spring from a desire for a better world; rather, it represents a desire to belong to a better world”.

The building has plenty of unique features including the curvy Le Corbusier-inspired entrance canopy and the precast terrazzo treads and iron balustrades of the open staircase.

Several parts of the building now have heritage status but to many the CAB is disliked. The somewhat totalitarian and repetitive facades could be considered dull, and its lonely location in the back corner of Aotea Square certainly doesn’t inspire many to go near it. However, this is all about to change.

Image: courtesy Buildmedia and Jasmax

Image: courtesy Buildmedia and Jasmax

It’s possible since the announcement of its development that the CAB has found a soft spot in many of our hearts, perhaps this is to with the development and restoration being funded privately (it won’t cost any rate payers). In any case, we at Mt Hobson Group are very excited to see this lonely and slightly neglected corner of the city redeveloped, reconnected and brought back to life!

The CAB Stage one RC covers the asbestos removal/decontamination of the building, any necessary seismic upgrades and the conversion to residential apartments. This will involve full decontamination of the building as well as its upgrade to more than 100% of New Building Standard in terms of seismic strength.

The approval of the Stage one consent is a significant milestone in the development project with the next steps being stakeholder engagement on a series of resource consents for the remainder of the site including a range of food and beverage activities, a hotel, offices and apartments.

The CAB housed the Auckland Council and the various administrative functions for over 40 years.  Adaptive reuse, allowing for another use will ensure that the legacy of the modernistic period of architecture remains with us for at least another 40 years.

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