Council bid to fix beloved town hall

LOIS CAIRNS
Last updated 05:00 20/10/2012

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The city council will have "a damn good go" at ensuring the Christchurch Town Hall is saved, Mayor Bob Parker says.

City councillors will next week receive a report on whether any part of the town hall can be saved and how much securing its future is likely to cost.

Christchurch's art community is worried the council may decide that repairing the building is too costly, but Parker has indicated there is strong support around the council table for its retention.

"We will have damn good go at ensuring the town hall stays in place," Parker said this week.

Support for saving the building is coming from around the world.

Barry Bergdoll, the chief curator of architecture and design at the Museum of Modern Art in New York, has written to the council pleading for it to keep the town hall .

"It is always easiest to realise earthquake standards by demolishing and starting anew, but with it goes not only a very significant piece of history in a case such as this but a great part of local identity," he said.

"I firmly believe the Christchurch Town Hall is of such architectural and cultural significance that every effort should be made to ensure its survival.

"It is perhaps one of only a few works of architecture in New Zealand that have had an influence on other buildings around the world, its acoustics much appreciated by famous international musicians.

"It is a vital part of the city's civic life moreover, and its loss would be a loss both psychologically locally and for architectural heritage worldwide."

University of Melbourne deputy dean and professor of architecture Paul Walker, in a letter of support, said the Christchurch Town Hall was internationally one of the most significant concert halls built in the past half-century.

"When so many other venues for the city's public life have been lost, it would be a great shame for the town hall to go, especially as it appears likely that it can be readily repaired," he said.

While the rebuilding of the city would give great opportunities for new design, it was important to honour and retain places that have been important to the city's sense of identity.

"The repair and reinstatement of the town hall would be a wonderful boost to the city's ongoing sense of recovery and confidence," he said.

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- The Press

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