The Wellington Central Library is finally approved for construction – three years after it was closed

The central staircase on the ground floor. Photo / Included

After five months of work, Wellington’s main library has been gutted and is finally ready for construction.

The existing internal structure of Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui is now vacant ahead of the start of construction in September.

At Te Matapihi, all major components were removed, including interior walls, ducts, ceiling panels, carpet tiles and even the escalators.

The central staircase on the ground floor.  Photo / Included
The central staircase on the ground floor. Photo / Included

The library was closed due to being classified as earthquake prone in March 2019 and is not scheduled to reopen until 2026.

City councilors have agreed to strengthen the building with base insulators, which is expected to cost $187.4 million.

Paul Perniskie, Te Matapihi Project Manager, said he was pleased with the “careful and professional operation” carried out by Ceres New Zealand over the past five months.

The second floor.  photo / delivered
The second floor. photo / delivered

Opened in 1991, the library is listed as a Category 1 historic site – the first from the 1990s. It is considered significant for its architecture by Ian Athfield.

Ceres New Zealand’s Chirag Sehgal said the operation was delicate and intense as the flood loads were not significant to support such large machines.

The ground floor.  photo / delivered
The ground floor. photo / delivered

“We also adhered to a strict waste minimization plan – much of the material we removed was reused.”

The new design for the library is lighter and brighter as it has an extra light well to bring the sun in.

Wellington City Council has released artistic impressions of the preliminary design of Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui, the Central Library.  Image / Included
Wellington City Council has released artistic impressions of the preliminary design of Te Matapihi ki te Ao Nui, the Central Library. Image / Included

The design also includes new entrances from the City-to-Sea ramp and another on the corner of Harris Street. The main entrance on Victoria Street will remain.

The design team included Athfield Architects, who originally designed the building; Aurecon, RCP, RLB, Tihei, Art of Fact and Māpuna.

LT McGuiness has been selected to undertake construction and plans to prepare for the start of earthworks early next year pending the resource permitting process.

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