University of Auckland: School of Music Building, Condition Assessment

The University of Auckland’s School of Music building, designed by Hill Manning Mitchell Architects in 1986, has significant importance both as permanent home of the School of Music on the campus and as a structure of special architectural interest. In 2012 the building received a New Zealand Institute of Architects Enduring Architecture Award as an “inventive and joyful work of architecture that 30 years after its construction continues to communicate a sense of delight”.

The building, developed on a very tight budget, houses a music theatre, a recording studio, practice rooms, lecture rooms, offices and a library – all set on a small site by a busy road. It was designed to provide quiet separated spaces despite its proximity to the busy Symonds Street thoroughfare. Indeed its Symonds Street face is a large curved solid wall, originally shaded from pale to dark yellow, beyond which an inner courtyard only 20 metres from Symonds Street is quiet enough for the performance of outdoor concerts.

The building design involves complex roof forms including sections of glazing. Its textured concrete wall forms incorporate stepped and curved profiles and angled tops. All of these features increase the complexity of maintenance required and in 2013 the University sought Salmond Reed’s advice on methods for remedying some of the maintenance and repair problems they were experiencing.

Parts of the roof had been temporarily patched with inappropriate materials in the past and Salmond

Reed’s recommendation was that a remedial works programme should be initiated to make good the inappropriate past repairs, to carry out urgent new works and bring the roof coverings, including the glazing to skylights and canopies, up to a maintainable standard.

The recommendations were embodied in a Condition Assessment report that explained the recommended remedial actions and
prioritised them from low – medium – high, giving a detailed description of the complex shapes, slopes and materials all keyed to a marked up roof plan. Recommendations were also made about improving safe access to the roofs, to facilitate regular inspection and clearing of the internal and parapet gutters, and the box eaves gutters.

The study included an investigation of the causes and remedies to deal with staining to the various wall forms.
Some of the discolouration clearly stemmed from, and would be remedied by measures that dealt with the roof problems. The study emphasised the need for more regular maintenance and cleaning on a building of this complexity and recommended general cleaning, redecoration and the restoration of the original shaded paint scheme to the curved Symonds Street face.

Salmond Reed’s work, over a period of about a year, concluded with the preparation of detailed trade specifications, the calling of tenders and supervision of these remedial works on behalf of the University.

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