8 Mar 2023

Wellington convention centre a catalyst for more development in capital, mayor says

2:31 pm on 8 March 2023

A nearly $180 million convention centre will open its doors in Wellington this May.

The Tākina Convention and Exhibition Centre was projected to host half a million visitors in its first year of operation.

In June, the new space will host its first exhibition, a collection of creatures, activities and scenes from the Jurassic Park movie franchise, constructed from nearly six million LEGO bricks.

Mayor Tory Whanau said it was no coincidence that many Wellingtonians' first opportunity to experience the building would be at a family-focused event timed for the school holidays.

Tākina Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre

Tākina Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre will open in May. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

The centre represented the beginning of a changing dynamic for the often neglected strip between the capital's waterfront and party precinct, Courtenay Place, Whanau said.

"It will be a catalyst for a lot more development. We know we need a couple more hotels in this precinct, we know that we need to redo some of our hospitality scene here on Courtenay Place, and I think this is just the start of it," she said.

The building was the first convention and exhibition centre in the country to achieve five Green Star Design Certification.

A grey water system and smart lighting and energy systems would all help keep the large scale of the development within a reasonable energy footprint.

Project Director of Tākina Wellington Convention & Exhibition Centre, Danny Comb

Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Project director Danny McComb said the building's distinctive bronze coloured glass created a unique look while deflecting heat to control energy consumption.

"It's a metal mesh compressed between two glass panels, every panel will look slightly different as the light hits it," McComb said.

"Normally glass facades can be a little bit boring, this one's got a character, and that character's always changing."

The fish like glass exterior of the building had dramatic swooping lines.

Tākina Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre

The centre cost about $180 million. Photo: RNZ / Angus Dreaver

Lead architect Daryl Calder said the centre was designed to allow guests to step out of the building and straight into the beating heart of the capital.

"We're close to the public network, not that far from the airport, right next to the waterfront. People like to get out and stretch their legs at mid points of conventions, so having all those amenitites very close at hand is a key part," Calder said.

While the project had come in nearly $5.5m over budget, commercial development manager David Perks was not fazed by the overrun.

Commercial Development General Manager David Perks

Photo: RNZ // Angus Dreaver

He said, in the context of lockdowns and materials shortages over the past three years, opening the facility on time and close to budget was proof of how well the project had run.

"I think you'd be lucky to find a project in New Zealand that's been managed as well as this one," Perks said.

The Tākina Convention and Exhibition Centre would open 31 May, Jurrasic World by Brickman opens 3 June.

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