The architects

A trans-Tasman partnership was appointed to design a remodelled Gallery building. This building opened on 3 September 2011 and is the one that you visit today.

Sydney-based FJMT (Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp), Auckland-based Archimedia and Auckland City Council worked together to develop a design for our new building – one of the largest projects of its kind in New Zealand.

FJMT has an international reputation for high-profile public building and urban design commissions. Their considerable expertise in integrating new extensions with heritage-sensitive buildings can be seen in their award-winning restoration of the heritage Mint in Macquarie Street, Sydney. Other major public projects they have been involved with include Australia’s Parliament House, the University of Sydney’s Scientia building, and the University of Auckland’s landmark Business School.

Archimedia is an award-winning New Zealand architecture practice, best known for its World of Wearable Art Museum in Nelson, Villa Maria Winery in Mangere and the Hyatt Residences tower in Princes Street, Auckland. The practice is particularly interested in identity as a generator for form and is strongly committed to consultation and sustainability. Archimedia also collaborated with FJMT on the University of Auckland Business School Complex.


Key support consultants to the architects

Michael Carver of SVM Group: Michael Carver is recognised internationally as an expert in gallery design and is consultant to a variety of the world’s most renowned arts institutions.

Bernard Makoare, Design Consultant: Bernard Makoare (Ngāti Whātua Heru Hāpai: Te Runanga o Ngāti Whātua) provided valuable cultural insight and interpretation to help determine key architectural and design elements that were incorporated into the new building and its immediate surrounds. He worked closely with the architectural team to shape and define key symbolic elements that respond to traditional Māori beliefs and the site’s sense of history and place. Makoare is a member of Haerewa, the Māori advisory board which works with the Gallery, a Ngāti Whātua representative on the Taumata-a-iwi at Auckland Museum, and is appointed to Puatatangi Committee of Toi Maori Creative New Zealand.

Jeremy Salmond of Salmond Reed Architects: Jeremy Salmond is a director of Salmond Reed Architects, which has recognised expertise in heritage matters. A leader in New Zealand heritage, Salmond assisted with the conservation and heritage issues associated with the Gallery's redevelopment, and was consultant to the former Auckland City Council in many heritage projects. The Auckland Art Gallery project team engaged Salmond Reed to develop the revised conservation plan and to work directly with Auckland City Council and the architect in detailing heritage aspects of the Gallery's redevelopment.

Gallery design overview

The $121 million development made Auckland home to New Zealand’s pre-eminent public art gallery. The design plan included earthquake-proofing and heritage restoration of the 1887 and 1916 components of the main building. These, combined with contemporary new additions, increased display space by 50 per cent. Glazed surfaces introduce controlled natural light and help to connect the inside art experience with the outside world. Enhancing the building’s entrance creates a sense of connection to our community, as do the landscaped areas linking the Gallery and Albert Park.

From a practical perspective, we are now able to meet stringent international lending requirements and can host much larger exhibitions showing varied kinds of art. There is also increased space for the display of artwork from our collection, which normally accounts for up to half of our exhibitions.


Design philosophy

Restoring and expanding Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki created a unique set of challenges for the architectural team. The fundamental challenge was to restore the wonderful heritage building while developing a complementary, flexible and contemporary design.


Relating new built elements with the landscape of Albert Park

The team looked at the existing character of the park and utilised this to create linkages between the building, the park and the surrounding streets. New landscaped terraces and paved platforms form a smooth pedestrian connection between Kitchener Street and Albert Park.

One of the most distinctive features of the new building is its roof design, which forms a series of fine ‘tree-like’ canopies that define and cover the Forecourt, North Atrium and gallery areas.

Between the terraces and the roof canopy of kauri wood, large windows allow a view from the Gallery's forecourt through the building to the park and beyond – inviting discovery and opening the Gallery to Albert Park and public spaces.


Enhancing the number of opportunities for activity

The Gallery experience is enhanced by a forecourt fronting Kitchener Street, a café on the northern side, an external amphitheatre in the adjacent park for public use, and sculpture terraces on the building’s northern and eastern edges. The North Terrace upgrade also incorporates a ceremonial entry to the Gallery.


Giving each heritage gallery a distinctive character

The culturally significant 1887 building was restored and seamlessly integrated into the new gallery complex. The fine cornices, ceiling profiles and architectural detailing are revealed. Modern lighting, display and air-conditioning systems are carefully integrated to create appropriate display and conservation conditions.

The historic 1916 Mackelvie Gallery is recreated as a major gallery space, complete with a natural daylight clerestory. It is now accessed directly from the North Atrium through a new floor that appears to be suspended.

The North Atrium, located in the heart of the new building, is a grand vertical space, filled with natural light and views into the park and surrounds. From the outside, major contemporary art installations and the vibrant activity of the Gallery are clearly visible, inviting us in.

A second atrium at the south end of the complex complements the North Atrium. It is filled with natural light which spills in over the greenery of the park. The roof profile of the original building remains.


New exhibition spaces expand the existing display area

The new gallery areas include a linear exhibition space that runs along the eastern side of the complex, and many large exhibition galleries between Kitchener Street and the Mackelvie Gallery. These contemporary spaces offer flexible display environments for works of art. At the top level of the complex, an expansive new exhibition space is created.