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Auckland Art Gallery wins NZ Architecture Medal

May 30, 2012

The Auckland Art Gallery, designed by FJMT and Archimedia, is presented with the New Zealand Institute of Architects’ 2012 Architecture Medal.

The Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki has been presented with New Zealand’s top architecture prize, the New Zealand Architecture Medal.

Designed by Sydney-based firm FJMT in collaboration with Auckland-based practice Archimedia, the Auckland Art Gallery was announced as this year’s recipient at the New Zealand Institute of Architects’ (NZIA) 2012 architecture awards evening, held in Wellington on 25 May.

Jurors said of the winning project: “The architects have held their nerve to realise a civic building that Auckland needed, and needed to be very good.” The panel lauded the building’s relationship with the neighbouring Albert Park, as well as its integration into the surrounding streets – delivering key civic spaces within the city that “invite the public into the Art Gallery”.

The new extension doubles the floor space of the gallery, and delivers “moments of drama,” said the jury, including a striking kauri timber canopy that mimics the tree canopy of Albert Park.

In addition to praising FJMT and Archimedia’s design, the jury also commended the team’s perseverance through a “lengthy and much-scrutinised construction process,” which involved the restoration of the original 1888 building as well as the addition of the new extension.

Twenty projects were selected as recipients of NZIA architecture awards in April. Jurors then nominated four finalists from among the twenty recipients, before deciding on the Auckland Art Gallery as this year’s winner.

The three other finalists in contention for the top award were Harris Butt Architecture’s Knoll Ridge Café on Mt Ruapehu, Herbst Architects’ residential project Under Pohutukawa, and Babbage Consultants’ Remarkables Primary School in Queenstown.

Hugh Tennent, a Wellington-based architect and this year’s jury convenor, said of the winning project: “There were high hopes for this building, and big challenges to overcome. The architects had to work with an existing heritage building and a sensitive site on the edge of Albert Park, as well provide all the spaces and amenities required by a twenty-first century art gallery. On all fronts, the architects have risen to the occasion.”

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