Former State Insurance Building, 143–149 Lambton Quay (1940)

The former State Insurance building soon after its completion.
A close-up of the former State Insurance building soon after its completion

At the end of the 1930s the Government commissioned a new building for State Insurance on this awkward corner site. The Auckland firm of Gummer and Ford, came up with a brilliant solution — a wavy facade wrapped around the corner. Together with the extensive use of glass it was an utterly novel piece of design for New Zealand and the best- known local example of the new architecture becoming vogue in Europe. To emphasise its innovative design, the building included new features such as fast lifts, fluorescent lighting and fire protection. 

State Insurance was established in 1903 by the Liberal Government, to provide competition for large monopolist or overseas-dominated insurance companies. State Insurance was sold to Norwich Insurance in 1990. The controversial multi-storey rooftop addition and embedded Classical columns (carrying the former owner’s name in bronze letters) were completed in 1999.

Image reference: Alexander Turnbull Library F18109 1/1