About the Town Hall strengthening project
Wellington Town Hall is set for strengthening and upgrades in one of the most complex construction projects in New Zealand for years.
Wellington Town Hall from Civic Square
The Grade 1 listed building is more than a century old. It was closed to the public in 2013 because it was earthquake prone. By law it must be either demolished or strengthening must be underway by the end of 2019. Demolition is not an option because of its heritage status.
When it re-opens it will be a world-class musical and recording venue with improved rehearsal and performance space. It will be a base for civic and community events and part of a centre of musical excellence for New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (NZSO) and Victoria University of Wellington’s New Zealand School of Music Te Kōkī.
The estimated costs of the work is $112.4 million plus a contingency allowance.
Construction work on the strengthening of the Town Hall will start in March/April 2019.
Nayor Love was appointed the preferred tenderer for the town hall strengthening after a competitive tender. We intend to formally appoint them as the main construction contractor in March 2019.
The Council approved an increase in funding for the Town Hall strengthening project in February 2019 ($112.4 million plus contingency).
Council agenda including paper on Welllington Town Hall strengthening (11.5MB PDF)
The plan of work
The town hall sits on ageing, unreinforced concrete piles on reclaimed land making the structure unreliable in an earthquake. The building, one of the city’s most important from a heritage viewpoint, will be undergo major strengthening and a comprehensive re-fit.
- Several shared spaces will be available.
- The 2200-capacity auditorium will be strengthened and any structural work ‘hidden’ to protect the world-class acoustics, traditional atmosphere and heritage features.
- The adjoining tiered theatre will have a flat floor installed; it will be a support space for shows in the auditorium and a standalone space for smaller performances.
- The debating chamber will be altered to provide extra seating for performances and practice sessions and the gallery will be refurbished to allow for more people and better acoustics.
- A new practice and performance space will be located above the Mayoral suite.
- A brand new recording space and film scoring stage will be installed in the basement. It will provide the capability for a hireable ‘one-stop’ post-production facility, the first of its kinds in New Zealand. The facility will allow the NZSO to build on recent success in this area, including its Grammy nomination for Best Orchestral Performance for Symphony Humen 1839 and the soundtracks for The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug and The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.
- Tenant spaces will be re-fitted for use by Victoria University of Wellington and NZSO for studying, creating and rehearsing music.
- The Town Hall will be retro-fitted with base isolators (flexible pads that reduce shaking during an earthquake) and new foundations on reclaimed land. Much of the ground work will be below sea level – a significant engineering feat and one of the most complex projects in New Zealand in recent years.
- The pipe organ, which has been removed and refurbished, will be reinstalled.
Alternative venues while the town hall is closed
For information about alternative venues while the Town Hall is upgraded, call our Contact Centre on 04 499 4444.
Project Manager, Build Wellington
Phone: 04 495 7823