I’m not sure the old ‘modern’ wing of the Auckland Art Gallery had to go – I’ve enjoyed visiting it since I was a kid – as Tony Watkins says it was “without doubt the best architecture ever designed by the Auckland City Council” – and I’m not really sure that ratepayers really need to be hit with a bill for $90 million (plus cock-ups) for its replacement, but Sydney-based FJMT Architects and Auckland-based Archimedia have come up with a pretty good replacement. (Although it’s a bit short of quality images to show you.)
I’ve always thought that a new gallery on that site would pretty much design itself – opening up the street and the gallery to the park above, and this pretty much does that. Pretty much. I like the idea of the “tree forms” opening up the look and bringing light and park down to the street and into the gallery, but unfortunately they’ve been considerably “toned down” since the original design. So it’s less striking than it should be, and there’s little relationship to the remaining gallery building, but at least there’s none of the masturbation usually associated with new galleries.