Gallery upgrade labour of love

KELLY DENNETT
Last updated 05:00 03/12/2013
Lopdell

IN CHARGE: Site manager James Corric is enjoying his time in Titirangi.

Lopdell
SMALL TOUCHES: Winding stairs carry you to the top floor but there’s wheelchair access too.

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By mid next year James Corric's ‘baby' will be fully matured and just about ready for public visits.

While he says it's been a complex process it's also been a labour of love.

He's talking about the earthquake-strengthening project being undertaken at Lopdell House Gallery.

Mr Corric is the site manager for NZ Strong which has been carrying out the project for the past year.

The Titirangi Rd site has been home to the gallery, Upstairs Art Gallery and Titirangi Theatre but has been undergoing upgrades to bring it up to code.

A second six level building is also under construction to increase the amount of works the gallery can house including touring exhibitions from Wellington's Te Papa museum.

About 100 workers frequent the site most days and Mr Corric says it's been an interesting project.

The original design of the building has been preserved so while the exterior doesn't look like too much has changed, the inside is a different story.

Because of a hold up with piles at the beginning of the project the building was temporarily propped while the team took a top down approach.

Normally you start from the ground up but to keep to schedule this process was reversed, Mr Corric says.

Top floors are nearing completion with new carpets installed, a fresh lick of paint and mosaic tiles.

The top level of the original building offers sweeping views of the Manukau Harbour.

While the scale and size of the project was initially met with skepticism from some members of the community, Mr Corric believes his open door approach has won over some hearts.

Timber, floor boards, brick and clay have been given to community members and groups who saw it as an opportunity to recycle some of the original materials.

His team is aiming for mid-2014 for completion.

Lopdell House Gallery director Andrew Clifford says he drives past the site once a week and is excited to see the progress being made.

He's working on a schedule for next year's opening.

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