Letters of Note
a compilation of the letters received to date
Member of Public:
The Circus has arrived indefinitely
Downtown Mall Development
Member of Public:
A dazzling View
View from Above
Member of Public:
Member of Public:
NZ Transport Agency:
Zurich House Occupant:
Member of Public:
Obnoxious and Disrespectful
Member of Public:
Accept the Unfamiliar
Member of Public:
Critique and Advice
23 March 2014 Re: The circus has moved in indefinitely As much as I love to spend my Sunday’s writing about architecture your proposal for the Downtown Mall site is the brusquest carpetbagger witnessed to mankind. Buildings like this don’t have a place in the commercial centre of a city, let alone our entire country. It’s the architecture of playgrounds and theme parks, probably only those that aren’t even OSH regulated. It looks like my dog’s brains exploded when you ran him over, which you then proceeded to tie dye and peg up on my clothesline, forcing me to have to stare at them day in and out. Are you trying to invite the circus into town because it sure as hell looks like it? Carnies are the most sinister, useless, troublemakers in our society. You build a space where they feel at home, we won’t be able to get rid of them and before you know it they’ll have brainwashed our kids into running away with them and joining their “free spirited” lifestyle. Do you have kids? I highly doubt it, or you would have been far more concerned with what a design like this located in an extremely public site has the potential to expose our youth to. It looks like a fucking paedophile clown looming over the city. I shudder and my spine chills just thinking about having to pass in and out of its sinister stare daily. For god’s sake who on earth do you suggest would want to actually live in that constant hellhole. It would be like an inescapable, re occurring, nightmare. Like that bloody maze out of that stupid Harry Potter movie my kids are obsessed with. A sobering, horror to disarm you around every damned corner. You’ll have half the residents committing suicide after the first night. Your lack of experience is blatant. Please note I have also written to the developers suggesting they consult another architect with far better credentials in this area. If they take you off the job it’s probably for the greater good, if not you had better re consult the drawing board because I have warned you. Yours Sincerely XXXX
Re: Downtown Mall Development 14 March 2014 To whom it may concern, I have seen the proposal you make for our Downtown Shopping Centre site and to be frank it concerns me immensely. It looks like something my four year old could have painted at Kindergarten. In fact she would probably be delighted by you scheme, however you are not designing a child facility and your end users will be adults like yourself and myself. The scheme makes me nauseous, like riding a roller coaster after drinking yourself to inebriation the previous night. The two don’t gel, like Precinct Properties and your proposal, they never will. It appears you propose this elaborate structure to be different solely for difference sake. I don’t know when this has ever been considered a valid reason, in my mind it never will be. We are not in the sand pit any more; this is no place for trial and error especially where the shareholders like myself are concerned. I sincerely hope you are not intentionally designing with such controversy solely to increase the publicity of your firm. Precinct Properties has an outstanding reputation for providing quality space and service, which we want to maintain. Fancy frills and trendiness are not part of our modest service. We aim to create premier commercial buildings, with a high level of functionality to ensure our clients a high level of satisfaction with our service. We know what we do and we do it well, we have been and continue to be highly successful across the country so why would we alter what is already working so well for us. I think you need to re examine Precinct’s philosophy in order to thoroughly incorporate this into your design. The high level of embellishment throughout your proposal is also a great concern to me in terms of the budget. We are not willing to substitute the quality of the product in order to supplement your practice’s aesthetic flare. As outlined in the beginning the budget is limited, thus the money needs to be spent where it will have the greatest impact. On behalf of all of the shareholders at Precinct Properties I can confidently say that of utmost importance is to ensure we design and build spaces which clients will want to lease and are therefore one hundred percent full as often as possible. The two predominant factors in this, location aside, are the comfortability and price of the space. In order to obtain substantial profit whilst maintain affordability we need to complete this project within a modest budget. Creative differences aside I believe this project could better incorporate the nature of Precinct Properties and our clients. This would ensure a more wholesome end result. I would be happy to meet with you to further discuss my thoughts and suggestions on this matter. Regards, Precinct Investor
I arrive by train into the city each day. Walking down the stairs out of Britomart Train Station the view of the lifeless Queen Elizabeth Square and Downtown Mall in the backdrop is depressingly sombre. How can I begin my day positively when this sight greets me each morning? I am incredibly excited about the prospect of this energising architecture taking over Downtown. Just looking at the images makes me smile so I know that if this confronts me when I walk down those stairs I will be happily inspired for my day in the office. We should be designing more fun buildings like this to brighten the face of our city. It would make the place and people that much more joyful. The energy of this proposal is infectious and I have no doubt that it will contaminate the city.
Precinct Properties Level 12, PwC Tower, 188 Quay Street, Auckland, Auckland PO Box 5140, Wellesley Street Auckland 1141 Cc: The Architect
24 March 2014
Dear Mr Pritchard and fellow board members It has come to our attention that you intend to proceed in redeveloping what is currently the Downtown Shopping Mall at 11-17 Customs Street West. I am sure you are no doubt aware that at the council we have invested a lot of time and money into formulating the master plan, which we hope to fully implement over the next forty to fifty years. The experimental nature of the design, which has been proposed, makes me nervous and such strength in aesthetic flare has been criticised against the master plan in our offices. However I know that some members are excited by the youthful proposal. Nevertheless your engineering issues not the subject of this letter. Our biggest concern with your construction at this stage this the program you suggest occupies the building. It is our understanding that this is to be of residential function, likely in the form of apartments? Residential is the most private building typology and the site is one of the most prominent in the city with much of the public transport condensing here, which will be further increased with the implementation of the City Rail Link. Therefore it is of our opinion that the site needs to involve and interact with the public sphere in some manner. Please consider this as you continue to develop the design. I have attached images from the 2012 Masterplan for your reference.
Regards Auckland Council
March 21, 2014 Please forward this to your director
The company I represent leases an office space in the HSBC House, if you aren’t already aware we share the same site on which you propose your garish and tacky structure sit. We have only ever kept to ourselves so none of us can understand what we ever did to you to be inflicted with this ghastly view. It looks like an amateur science experiment went incredibly wrong and erupted technicolour gloop over half the city block. If you persist with this proposal the only solution for our office and many others in HSBC will be to board up our windows. I can’t bear the thought of confronting your dizzying messy each time I get up to go to the toilet let alone the poor soles whose offices are oriented to this view and will have the burden constantly inflicted upon them. I am absolutely positive that the productivity of all the offices in this building will dramatically decrease. Our conference room is located with a premiere view over the speculated development. I have no idea how I am supposed to conduct a serious meeting with board members, staff and clients with that fanfare going on outside. Prospective clients won’t consider our service with earnest if it looks like we have a mural of The Wiggles show painted on our wall. During the various presentations, which we hold in this room, it will be impossible to ensure the big picture concepts, never mind the particulars are acknowledged and absorbed. It will be lost in the distracted stares and daydreaming mind wanders to your epilepsy causing ADHD building. Please respect your neighbours! After all how would you feel if we vomited this outside your office window. I am damned sure you would start working from home due to the severe migraines this stomach churning mine field would cause.
Enraged and Resenting HSBC Occupant Precinct Properties Client
To whom it May Concern, As a member of the public who catches the ferry from Devonport each day the bolshy building you propose will be one of the first things I have to look at every morning. The thought of having to stare at this domineering and provoking seesaw of a structure as I sail into the city is enough to force me to start taking Sea-Legs daily. It has the appearance of a giant parasite waiting to infect the city. Its out of place as a cancerous tumour to the body. Your submission is oblivious the urban city fabric surrounding it. Itâ€™s a show off and obnoxious and belittling. None of these are attractive qualities in people so I cannot comprehend how they could become appealing within a building. Like in people we want something elegant and charming, which we can relate to. This building looks like its on LSD. And when I look at it, I feel like I am on and acid trip.
Severely Disgruntled Rate Payer
20 March, 2014
Dear Developer I am absolutely thrilled at the prospect of this flirtatious and flamboyant construction containing residential apartments. I believe it has the ability revolutionise the sterile stacked boxes of this building typology. I will be the first in the cue to sign the lease for one of these places and move my young family in! It will provide everything the suburb does. Parks and communal spaces, front doors and back porches, exuberantly packaged into the comparatively fun size of a city block. The innovation of creating something, which this city has not yet seen, will be inspirational to our youth, encouraging them to expand their imagination and pursue their dreams. Once the city master plan has been carried out Auckland CBD will be a much more pedestrian friendly and youthful place thus living in the city will be a much more viable option for families. The diversity of the community, which has the potential to occupy this space further, excites me. Being inner city it will attract University students, young professionals and maybe even a hip retired couple. The potential offered through these generations interacting is immense. Stimulating intergenerational relationships is a great opportunity for all parties as we all have something to be taught and learn off one another. There is power in education and it would inspire education in a less formal manner. I dearly hope that your developed design will live up to and even further exceed my expectations. I am excited to observe its progression. Yours Sincerely An Excited Prospective Occupant
New Zealand Transport Agency Level 11, HSBC House 1 Queen Street Private Bag 106602 Auckland 1143 New Zealand
Dear Architect We received copies of your proposal for 11-17 Customs Street West this week. The New Zealand Transport Agency would like to make a submission regarding the development of this site. Our roads which circuit this site receive some of the heaviest traffic in the city, for both private vehicles and buses. The projections beyond the site in the scheme are of great concern in terms of how our roads can function. Any structure protruding beyond the site must be at a substantial height so as not to impinge on the flow of traffic or obscure any visibility. Special consideration must be given to the buses; their trajectory around corners of city blocks and inability to see the back of the vehicle must be accounted for. Albert Street is and will continue to be a major transitional point on their routes. We understand that in the future there is the possibility that the number of diving lanes on Customs Street and Quay Street may be reduced to allow for greater pedestrian areas. This would allow greater flexibility in the construction of any cantilevers however until the road development has been undertaken you must not obtrude on any of the current roads in the vicinity. Our second concern with the development of the Downtown Mall is how access to the site will be gained during the construction process. What road closures will be required and when. These need to be kept severely minimal due to the busy nature of these roads. We will enforce that when ever possible these occur during the night to ensure they cause the least possible disruption to traffic. Further more the bus stops on Albert Street must not be affected during construction.
Regards Adrienne Young-Cooper New Zealand Transport Agency
21 March 2014
To whom it May Concern I am a client of Precinct Properties, leasing a large office space in Zurich house. It has come to my attention that you have made a proposal for the site of the Downtown Mall, which shares the same city block as Zurich House. The fact that it looks like it has taken a double dose of speed and hit the town on a Saturday night is beside the point. The appearance of the design is not my problem, itâ€™s Precinctâ€™s. I am however surprised they even considered your scheme and donâ€™t imagine your stylistic adornment will progress many more of the design phases. My experience where the developers are concerned is that they are tighter than a camels arse in a sandstorm where money is concerned. So best of luck with that one! The immediate concern to me is the construction period for which I can assume we will be talking years and not months. This has the potential to provide a great level of disruption to my business in terms of access and especially the noise that will be generated. You are kidding yourselves if you attempted to claim it will be minimal because we both know especially in the first few months of demolition and the major initial construction they have the ability to be cacophonous. It is not rocket science that this will have an immense effect on the productivity of staff. I expect to see measures put in place to minimise sound travel or I will be pursuing this matter further. The second concern of your proposal is of the long-term consequences your building poses on the indoor environment at Zurich House. Our office is situated on the fourth floor thus being on the lower levels our sunlight is already reduced so it is of great concern to me is how your finished building will affect the daylight we receive. It is essential to us that the new establishment does not hinder the daylight we receive or cast a booming black shadow in our direction. This would certainly impede our work environment. I am sure that Precinct Properties want to maintain us and the other businesses at Zurich House as clients therefore I am sure they will support my argument. I suggest you consider this matter and modify any impingements within your design now so it does not become as issue for the court at a later date.
Regards Zurich House Leaseholder
Obnoxious and Disrespectful March 20, 2014 Dear Architect, I am writing in regard to your proposal for 11-19 Customs Street West, it is an eye sore and completely undermines our city. Some of our cities most beautifully kept heritage buildings are located on three of the four sides of the city block in which you propose this building sits. We should be focusing the attention to the Ferry Building, Britomart Station and DFS Galleria building and thus your construction needs to be understated and in keeping with the current city fabric. If you go ahead and construct something at obnoxious as a McDonalds playground it will dominate the area and obliterate the cities skyline. This site is the face of our city, it is one of the first sites that many of our visitors will see as they arrive by train, ferry or bus. And for our overseas travellers the main Airbus stop is just outside at Shed 10. Do we really want their first impression of our city to be one of bolshy arrogance? What would this say about New Zealanders? As a population we are known for our affability and modesty. Would it not make sense for our built environment to also project these qualities, especially on a site with such prominence? I seriously advise that you rethink the effect your audacious proposal would have on the city and the opinions of those who visit us! We actually want them to come back! Regards, A Highly Concerned Citizen
23 March 2014
To all of those whom are opposed to the development of the Downtown Mall, at the junction of Customs and Albert Street you need to seriously re-evaluate your priorities for the place which you consider to be your home. This weird concoction is wonderfully courageous. Its bold provoking statement has the ability to put Auckland on the world wide architectural radar. The controversy of the whimsy will have it being published in international journals. Everyone will know about it. Other leading cities of the world all have renowned buildings but Auckland doesnâ€™t. We need this building! We need to be creating architecture of the future and not imitating and building budget versions of the past. Technology has moved beyond classical ordinance and the boredom Miesian glass curtain wall. Auckland needs to be pushing the boundaries and paving the way into the future for New Zealand. As a nation we have a terrible habit of hiding in our comfort zones, how will we ever compete internationally with this attitude. The numerous negative responses I have seen in the media to this proposal astound me. Itâ€™s exciting and refreshing and the public need to open their minds and accept the unfamiliar.
Dear Lisa, Your proposal for the Downtown Mall came to my attention this week. A proposal like that takes balls so hats off to you in that respect. You are very fortunate the city is rapidly modernising and developing in terms of its design views so there is more chance than ever your proposal will succeed in being constructed. I was heavily involved last year with the development of the Unitary Plan and have spent quite a bit of time reviewing the City Centre Master Plan. There are a couple of key aspects which at this stage I think you have failed to respond to, and going forward you may want to conduct further research, to ensure you address them in an articulated and refined manner. The City Centre Master Plan is an incredibly elegant proposal implementing massive improvements to the entire structure of the city, with a high concentration of them occurring in the immediate vicinity of your site. The big emphasis being on reconnecting the city with its waterfront. A couple of actions I know they have planned are to reduce the number of traffic lanes from six down to three at both Customs Street and Quay Street in order to create open Pedestrian Boulevards. These spaces will be littered with seats and planting in the forms of low growing gardens and established trees. They also hope to physically break down the barriers preventing you from touching the water, establishing a more tactile, interactive relationship. In order for your building to be successful it will need to address the elegance of the master plan. This will ensure that the architecture is timeless and that in twenty years time or fifty or one hundred when the councils scheme has been much more entirely executed across the wider city that your building is still relevant. Donâ€™t design for now; you must design for the future. The second aspect that requires attention is how you deal with the lower levels of your building and the rest of the site. These levels have the most direct relationship with the extensive infrastructure developments the council has projected. How can you involve these in your construction and development of the site. If you can do this successfully then this entire process will be much more seamless because the council will be working with instead of against you. A final piece of advice is that you want to have a reason or reasons to support your potent aesthetic. To be pretty or different is not good enough, especially where the clientâ€™s chequebook is concerned. If you have a logical, thorough process backed up with research you can romanticise your client and the public. A couple of things that might help are to consider that is it reclaimed land along side the relationship to the water the council also seeks. The site was also a gathering place for the entire city and wider country. When what is now the Britomart Station was the General Post Office, before households had television or radio this is the place where everyone would come to hear the news. They stood there and watched their loved ones leaving for war and they stood in the same spot to hear the announcement that the war was over and welcome those that survived back. It is the front of our city so it needs to open up and welcome you in the same way that your mother does into her arms when you arrive home for Christmas. I have attached some images which you may find useful All the best, A Friend
statement We have read and considered the submissions we received for the development of the Downtown Mall site at 11-17 Customs Street West, Auckland. A meeting will be held at the University of Auckland School of Architecture and Planning on the 28 March, 2014 at 1:00pm to discuss any further issues. Attached are copies of images relating to the design development, to date, for your reference. We will be reviewing these at the meeting on Friday.
Thoroughfare: to Viaduct Pedestrian Bridge: demolish - obstructs ocean view down Albert Street
HSBC House: demolish - casts shadow over square - blocks view from site - barrier bewteen water - prominent unattractive on skyline
Continuation of Tyler Street to Viaduct
Create an event with Queen Street threshold
Thoroughfare: public transport - Albert Street
Queen Elizabeth Square: Terraced Garden and walkway possibly contined beneath construction
Build a relationship with Quay Street and harbour edge beyond
the veranda The veranda: a roofed porch. Aucklandâ€™s Front door, a newsstand and a threshold. A place to congregate and converse and ascertain
Above: Section through Veranda Below: Light shaft examples