$703m Convention Centre to be ‘world-first’, opening to streets on all sides


The new $703 million NZ International Convention Centre is said to be a world-first because unlike similar giants in other cities around the world, the huge new convention centre here will be open on all sides. John Coop, principal of Warren and Mahoney which was one of the architects, says: “This will be the first convention centre in the world with no back door – open on all four sides to the street and the city that surrounds its highly urban site, presenting an open face to all who approach.” But developer/owner SkyCity Entertainment Group says it will be much more than just open. It will enhance the rejuvenation of the CBD’s western edge, being a catalyst for more development in Victoria Quarter and Federal St. “Once up and running, it is expected to attract more than 33,000 new international visitors to New Zealand, generating $90 million of economic benefits to New Zealand annually and 800 jobs. The hotel development will create a further 150 jobs,” that business says.

With a total gross floor area of 85,000sq m, the centre is one of the biggest building projects undertaken in Auckland lately.


This will be this country’s largest purpose-built convention centre, able to host meetings for about 3000 people, or one-off events for 4000 in its grand exhibition floor. That new hall alone will be five times larger than the current largest exhibition hall in this country: the existing Convention Centre’s New Zealand Room, in the existing SkyCity property between Albert St and Federal St. That hall is column-free, with a soaring 9m stud, able to be configured into three individual halls, all accessed from the surrounding street network. Theatre and plenary spaces, areas for trade shows, banqueting facilities – this place is set to be a hub of activity, all with extensive city views and near the City Rail Link’s Aotea Station. The project is part of the estimated $6 billion five-year building boom which the national construction pipeline report says is now going on in Auckland.

Horizon Hotel

This new 300-room five-star elliptical-shaped glass-clad hotel is beside TVNZ at the seaward end of the site. SkyCity at one stage considered selling it, well before it was finished, but changed its mind and instead plans to sell the thousands of its underground car parks, maybe to Wilsons or Tournament although no deal is yet announced. The hotel will have an underground gym and porte-cochere or entrance way accessed off Nelson St. It will accommodate guests at conventions as well as other visitors. When this opens, SkyCity will have nearly 1000 beds at three hotels on its Auckland CBD sites.


A cut-through pedestrian link between Hobson St and Nelson St, to be lined with retail and dining outlets, flanked by the high dramatic walls of the new hotel and centre, expanding the public entertainment precinct, a nod to the popular Vulcan Lane.

Car Parks

SkyCity has 1960 parks below its Auckland casino/hotel site and another 1327 beneath the convention centre site, giving it control of 3287 spaces.


Two of the largest pieces of public art created in this country will be the centre’s exterior, including 2400sqm of glass and 13,500 terracotta tiles for all to see. Works by New Zealand artists Sara Hughes and Peata Larkin were specially commissioned to span 5760sq m once installed on the outside walls.

  • Sara Hughes has made a glass artwork to cover 2400sq m on the southern or Wellesley St wall. It is 105m long and 1.5m wide, varying in height from 1.2m to 3.6ml. Installation was under way last month. She has used 60 different colour tones, inspired by her upbringing in rural Northland near the Waipoua kauri forest so that the piece reflects the experience of walking through our bush and looking up through a canopy of trees to see the unique light and colour of the forest.
  • Larkin’s terracotta tile wall is 3360sq m: 105m long and about 31m tall, comprising 13,500 tiles. She says she wanted to create an art work “that described the multiple waterways and fertile soil Tāmaki Makaurau (and Aotearoa) possesses, as well as connect strongly and aesthetically to Sara Hughes’ glass work. I wanted to soften the long wall and achieved this by creating an undulated geometric pattern inspired by traditional Maori weaving; a subtle three dimensional presence that would visually change dependent on the angle it was viewed from.” The work will be installed this year at the cut-through dining/restaurant lane way at the TVNZ end of the site.

In the neighbourhood

The NZICC is not the only change in the area. SkyCity is pushing ahead with plans to expand Federal St’s food, drink and entertainment offerings with more outlets around the SkyCity Grand and The Depot, and next year open a new attraction with West Workshop to showcase the All Blacks Experience.


  • Anne Gibson
  • NZ Herald

Race for convention centre deadline

A_060713HOSSPLCONVENTION1_620x310SkyCity has unveiled an artist’s impression of the proposed Convention Centre, but no start has been been made on construction, and no consent applications have been lodged.

SkyCity’s international convention centre is facing a tough deadline with nothing built, no land cleared so it can be built and no consents applied for so building can start.

SkyCity and the Government have a September 2017 completion date for the centre and a three-year construction time.

The date is specified in the contract between the two parties, in which the casino company agreed to pay $402 million to build the convention centre in return for relaxing of gambling laws.

And even if it were met, long-term booking dates for conventions make it unlikely any will be booked before 2019.

Sticking points appear to be design wrangles between SkyCity and the Auckland Council. The council has objected to some aspects of the design, including the air bridge SkyCity wants to link the casino and convention centre.

Economic development minister Steven Joyce said the deadline was “challenging”.

“It all depends on the process it has to go through for the Resource Management Act consenting process. That depends a fair bit on the design and how it fits into the permitted envelope.”

He said the September 2017 date was still the goal.

Mr Joyce said there had been no change in SkyCity’s contribution or the Government’s concessions.

The contract with the Government shows the gambling concessions take effect when building starts. It also shows the casino company has a lot of room to move the 2017 deadline, with years of grace before it is in breach.

Auckland Council economic development manager Harvey Brookes said staff were working with SkyCity to “help ensure the facility meets Auckland Council’s design aspirations”.

He said no consent had been sought, and it was not possible to know whether it would have to be publicly notified until the application had been submitted.

Conventions and Incentives New Zealand chief executive Sue Sullivan said bookings for large conventions were made four to five years ahead.

There was “significant interest” in the SkyCity project, but bookings wouldn’t come until building started.

“No one will start talking about a venue until they have good, firm dates.

“When they get firm dates, and some have said when the first sod is turned, then they will be out.”

A year after signing the contract, SkyCity doesn’t have an executive with a permanent responsibility for the project. The “project director” who started last November has recently left. A SkyCity spokeswoman said a new director was being recruited.

She said the company hoped to put a resource consent application in before the end of the year.

“The date of project completion depends on when resource consent is approved. An opening date will become clearer once resource consent has been granted.”


NZ Herald

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