New $150m design for Wellington Movie Museum and Convention Centre
Architects tasked with designing a Wellington movie museum and conference centre have come back with a gold-plated alternative – but it will cost ratepayers an extra $15 million.
In June, the Wellington City Council approved $134.4m for land and construction of the new centre, including an 1100-seat conference centre and a museum run by Sir Peter Jackson and Sir Richard Taylor.
But on Wednesday the project will be back before council, with proponents seeking approval for a $150m project instead.
Studio Pacific Architecture has presented the council with two designs. One is a "base-line" option within the original budget, which the designers describe as a "simple, rational, modernist aesthetic" that could be a "building of anywhere".
Their preferred option, however, is said to draw on Wellington's maritime location, its dramatic weather patterns and Maori mythology as the head of Maui's fish: Te Upoko o te Ika.
For $15m extra, the building could be clad with a "shingle-like skin around the soft-flowing form", which would sell Wellington in the same way as the Opera House does for Sydney, or the Guggenheim Museum for Bilbao, the studio says.
The more expensive design has high-level support. Wellington Deputy Mayor Justin Lester said the extra $15m was within the parameters of the original proposal, so the council did not need to consult the public again.
He would endorse the new design, along with mayor Celia Wade-Brown and councillor Jo Coughlan, chairwoman of the economic development committee.
"It's going to be a one-of-a-kind experience and we need a one-of-a-kind building," Lester said. "It's going to be a Wellington statement building."
It was exciting for the city and an agreement would be formalised with Jackson and Taylor by the end of November, he said.
The top floor of the three-storey building will be the convention centre, with the bottom floors housing the movie museum. The space will be leased to a company owned by Jackson and Taylor.
Movie Museum Ltd (MML) will pay for the museum fitout, which will include Jackson's extensive collection of movie memorabilia.
MML project director George Hickton said the pair had seen both plans and were keen for the new sculpture design as the public face of the museum.
"It's evocative of what we are trying to create internally. It represents Wellington and the creativity that goes with film."
MML was working away on the internal concept design, he said.
"They don't do things by halves. The further we go, the better and more expensive it gets. The collection will be unique to Wellington."
It would be a few years before those plans would be revealed, he said.
"It's been a long time coming, and this is the best site we have seen in the past 10 years of planning."
Coughlan said the project was moving forward and the construction could start in January.
"It is going to be a world-class asset that belongs to the city, and I think it will be a game-changer for the capital."
A potentially world-class tourist attraction would be great for the local economy, increasing visitor numbers, jobs and investment, she said.
She was thrilled the convention centre would beat Auckland, Christchurch and Queenstown's centres out of the blocks.
The council predicts the combination of the museum and convention centre will contribute $38m to the local economy each year.
A Wellington Chamber of Commerce survey earlier this year showed a majority of support for the project.
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