Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Queens Wharf - another ad hoc Auckland accident?

Until yesterday, my understanding about what was happening down on Queens Wharf was pretty much as had been reported by NZ Herald on the 8th December:

"Queens Wharf is to be spruced up for the Rugby World Cup at a cost of about $10 million.

It is understood there is no political appetite or funding to proceed with a grand design for the wharf in the foreseeable future.

Last month, political leaders called a halt to the much-maligned design contest to turn Queens Wharf into a combined cruise ship terminal and "party central" venue for the 2011 Cup.

A joint entry from architects Jasmax and Architectus, featuring a ramp to the water at the end of Queens Wharf, was the winning design for the $47 million budget...."

The Herald even ran a picture of the winning design with that story. The winning entry was known as QW04.


I quite liked the variant of that design that was in the design competition. One of the reasons I liked it was because the Cool Shed was retained, and featured.


Anyway. I digress. Things have been moving along apace. Yesterday, an extraordinary meeting of ARC Council was called by ARC's Chairman.

It was all about Queens Wharf. I can't really go into detail here - because the item was in confidential. A slim majority of councillors were able to attend - almost half the ARC councillors had made other Xmas arrangements and were elsewhere.

So a bare quorum attended. I was not happy to be considering such an important matter with so little time to think about it, and with so few councillors there. And there was no real sense of urgency. A strong whiff of expediency or ad hockery (if that's a word) was in the air....

The Chairman of ARC has made no secret of his desire to get rid of the Queens Wharf sheds, and to build Auckland's primary cruise ship terminal there. Quite a few other councillors, not to mention a fair slice of Auckland's media and public are concerned by that proposal. That it will restrict the opportunities to provide for public waterfront amenity. Crowd Auckland's CBD waterfront with cruise ships and basically give over the cruise ship industry a fantastic slice of Auckland's central waterfront. Here's how ARC's Chairman describes what he wants in his November report to Council. This photo is part of his report:

"A lot of public and media attention has been given to Queens Wharf in recent weeks – especially with the decision taken by the government, Auckland City and ourselves
to ditch the cruise ship terminal design competition.

...My own comments on the standard of the designs is on the record and I am determined that we do not accept a second rate building on such a magnificent site. These opportunities come perhaps once in a lifetime and should not be squandered. If the job is worth doing its worth doing well....

As you might have guessed given the interest of the public I have been inundated with design ideas (especially gigantic waka and oversized rugby balls) which are at least more interesting than the standard boring post modern stodge offered up by the architectural experts. With all the controversy flying about the designs it is important not to lose sight of why we resolved to acquire Queens Wharf from POAL in the first place. That was for a new cruise ship terminal for Auckland and for public open space. One thing is for certain the wharf will be formally handed over to the ARC and the NZ government in April next year and we will be opening it up to the public.

In regard to cruise ships, the 2008/09 cruise ship season was the largest yet, with New Zealand receiving 118,976 passengers. As the country’s key hub port, Auckland received a significant proportion of the 2008/09 cruise ship passengers (112,870). Growth in passenger numbers is expected to steadily increase, helped by announcements such as the one P&O Cruises made in October that it is going to base its newest superliner – the 1800 passenger Pacific Pearl – in New Zealand. Analysis shows that each cruise ship passenger contributes between $200 and $300 to the Auckland economy... Research carried out for the Government in 2008 showed that a new cruise terminal on Queens Wharf could generate an additional $713 million in direct expenditure over the next 10 years.

Many have been surprised at the remarkable renaissance of passenger shipping in
recent years – which most travel experts had written-off long ago as superseded by
air travel. But given that Auckland, largely thanks to the magnificent Hauraki Gulf and Waitemata Harbour, has been presented with this opportunity it is important in terms of the overall economic development of the region that we seize it with both hands.... Our current facilities are outmoded and overloaded and there is no room to grow. We also need to match the standard of visitor facilities being provided by Australian Ports. If anyone doubts this I suggest they visit Princes Wharf when a cruise ship is alongside and see the long lines of jet-lagged passengers...."

You get the picture. ARC's Chairman is VERY enthusiastic about cruise ships and the cruise ship industry. He still wants BOTH sides of Queens Wharf to be available for cruise ships - that's why he likes the picture he has in his report with 3 cruise ships.

I have had to push very hard to get the idea of public space provision on Queens Wharf to be included at the same level in ARC's thinking - as the cruise ship terminal. It's there, as you can see in the Chairman's report, but I think public space and public amenity continues to be vulnerable to the pressure for Queens Wharf to be Auckland's PRIMARY cruise ship terminal.

But I digress again. This picture shows the Diamond Princess docked at Princes Wharf. She's 925 feet long. Close to the maximum length cruise ship that can dock at Princes Wharf. You can see how she towers over the Hilton Hotel, and imagine the views of those living in the Princes Wharf apartments. I sometimes wonder whether reverse sensitivity issues are driving the cruise ship industry onto Queens Wharf....


So - what can I tell you about the confidential meeting? Well. It seems that the powers that be are interested in doing rather more than the $10 million Party Central do-up that the NZ Herald reported a few weeks ago.

Behind the scenes a lot of work has been going on to titivate and tart up the design competition winning entry (described above), so that it meets the expectations of those same powers that be who would quite like to get the whole thing done in time for Rugby World Cup. The detail of all of that was provided at the meeting. Of course there are conversations to be had, and deals to be done, and funding to be found and finalised, and other design details to be worked through, and nothing was actually finalised.

But it's a worry. Not quite in the spirit of due process.

A strong whiff of ad hockery. Another classic Auckland moment. Reminiscent of Mallard's stadium Auckland moment. Is this the only way Auckland can do anything? And if we seriously believe Auckland governance needs to be changed to get good decisions, do we really think it appropriate to allow the existing dying regime - or even a fragment of it - to decide anything as precious as the waterfront?

I won't say any more about that meeting. But I am happy to share some of the concerns I had, and some of the research I carried out before the meeting. First of all I am aware that the Design Competition Panel prepared a final report. This recommends that QW04 is the winning entry. My understanding is that the main reason it won is that it scraps Shed 10, to ensure that the cruise ship terminal part of its design can deliver the rigid requirements of the design competition brief. The brief is onerous. It talks about the need for 8000 square metres of cruise ship building space. It talks about other building requirements to meet the needs of the cruise ship industry. It turns out that there is no way these specified needs can, or could, be met by any adaptive re-use of Shed 10. That is a principle reason why QW04 won.

In other words, the price of the cruise ship terminal, is Shed 10. The Design Panel basically found that you can't have both. And clearly the security and other needs of the cruise ship terminal will always rule when it comes to public space and provision as well. And if the ARC Chairman has his way, both sides of Queens Wharf will be sacrificed to cruise ship heaven. To P&O et al.

Question: where do cruise ships to Sydney dock? Do they tie up by the Opera House - ie slap bang in the middle of downtown CBD?

Answer: No they don't. Here's one place. Nice location by the bridge. But not in the heart of the CBD. And take a look at the buildings used for the ship. Beautiful use when the ship's not there.

Question: Where are they planning to put the Wellington Cruise Ship terminal? In the heart of Wellington's downtown waterfront CBD?

Answer: No. The plan is to put it between Te Papa and the Freyberg Pool. Well away from Wellington's downtown waterfront.


It is plain stupid to shove ships into and almost onto Auckland's downtown CBD waterfront. This space needs to be reserved for promenading and public amenity and public fun.

And here's the other thing I spoke about at the confidential meeting. Remember when Queen Mary 2 came to Auckland? Fantastic wasn't it. Everybody wanted to see her. Here she is. Parked at a container terminal. She was too big for Princes Wharf. And she's too big for Queens Wharf. So. Even if the powers that be spend a whole heap of money building the titivated cruise ship terminal on Queens Wharf, the Queen Mary will still have to park at Auckland's container terminal. How World Class is that?

Queen Mary 2 is 1132 feet long. That's almost 200 feet longer than the Diamond Princess photographed at Princes Wharf above. When I asked the question about this, at the confidential meeting, I was advised that Queens Wharf needs to be strengthened to take a ship as heavy as Queen Mary 2, and lengthened as well. I was also advised that the contract with Ports of Auckland does allow for lengthening, but that the cost for lengthening has not be budgeted for.

Last time I looked the resource consent process for lengthening Auckland's wharves had not suddenly become any easier. I checked the internet to see what the trend was for cruise ships. Queen Mary 2 was - for a short time - the longest cruise ship in the world. However I learned that Royal Carribean - a major competitor for P&O - has completed, or almost completed, two cruise ships that are bigger than Queen Mary 2. One's called Oasis of the Seas (1187 feet), the other's called Genesis (1180 feet). And apparently larger cruise ship vessels are on the horizon.

How world class would Auckland look if ships like these, and Queen Mary 2, had to dock at a container wharf?

Remember the big container ship debate? Auckland was going to lose out on the world shipping stage if it didn't dredge Rangitoto Channel and expand Ferguson Terminal. These monty container ships needed water depth and berth length. So we spent the money.

Why not take a whole of waterfront perspective in planning for cruise ships AND public space. No need to cram everything onto Queens Wharf. Take a bigger look.

What is happening is not a positive reflection on Auckland planning. I say, let's stop this waterfront ad hockery. By all means spend $10 million - or even $20 million - on Party Central on Queens Wharf. But don't rush something ill-thought-out onto Queens Wharf. It's too precious.

POSTSCRIPT (dated 15th January 2010). You will have noted the discussion in NZ Herald over the past few days. Orsman's front page reveal all was triggered by this blog. The subsequent debate has engaged the attention of the PM who has blocked proposals for a major and hasty redevelopment. Interestingly, Cooper and Company have come up with a "redevelop 30 metres of land behind the red fence and keep Quay Street as it is". Which has a degree of popularity about it. I think it's another short term fix. Quay Street's use has to change otherwise Auckland CBD will be separated from its waterfront by a traffic artery/sewer.

2 comments:

Patrick @ Chelsea said...

Gosh, your argument makes perfect sense. Yes why spend all that money on a grand terminal that is already becoming dated due to its inherent size limitations.

I too would prefer a promenade poking out into the Harbour, maybe along the lines of Sydney's Rocks or San Francisco's pier 49.

juliaroberts said...

Earning money online never been this easy and transparent. You would find great tips on how to make that dream amount every month. So go ahead and click here for more details and open floodgates to your online income. All the best.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Queens Wharf - another ad hoc Auckland accident?

Until yesterday, my understanding about what was happening down on Queens Wharf was pretty much as had been reported by NZ Herald on the 8th December:

"Queens Wharf is to be spruced up for the Rugby World Cup at a cost of about $10 million.

It is understood there is no political appetite or funding to proceed with a grand design for the wharf in the foreseeable future.

Last month, political leaders called a halt to the much-maligned design contest to turn Queens Wharf into a combined cruise ship terminal and "party central" venue for the 2011 Cup.

A joint entry from architects Jasmax and Architectus, featuring a ramp to the water at the end of Queens Wharf, was the winning design for the $47 million budget...."

The Herald even ran a picture of the winning design with that story. The winning entry was known as QW04.


I quite liked the variant of that design that was in the design competition. One of the reasons I liked it was because the Cool Shed was retained, and featured.


Anyway. I digress. Things have been moving along apace. Yesterday, an extraordinary meeting of ARC Council was called by ARC's Chairman.

It was all about Queens Wharf. I can't really go into detail here - because the item was in confidential. A slim majority of councillors were able to attend - almost half the ARC councillors had made other Xmas arrangements and were elsewhere.

So a bare quorum attended. I was not happy to be considering such an important matter with so little time to think about it, and with so few councillors there. And there was no real sense of urgency. A strong whiff of expediency or ad hockery (if that's a word) was in the air....

The Chairman of ARC has made no secret of his desire to get rid of the Queens Wharf sheds, and to build Auckland's primary cruise ship terminal there. Quite a few other councillors, not to mention a fair slice of Auckland's media and public are concerned by that proposal. That it will restrict the opportunities to provide for public waterfront amenity. Crowd Auckland's CBD waterfront with cruise ships and basically give over the cruise ship industry a fantastic slice of Auckland's central waterfront. Here's how ARC's Chairman describes what he wants in his November report to Council. This photo is part of his report:

"A lot of public and media attention has been given to Queens Wharf in recent weeks – especially with the decision taken by the government, Auckland City and ourselves
to ditch the cruise ship terminal design competition.

...My own comments on the standard of the designs is on the record and I am determined that we do not accept a second rate building on such a magnificent site. These opportunities come perhaps once in a lifetime and should not be squandered. If the job is worth doing its worth doing well....

As you might have guessed given the interest of the public I have been inundated with design ideas (especially gigantic waka and oversized rugby balls) which are at least more interesting than the standard boring post modern stodge offered up by the architectural experts. With all the controversy flying about the designs it is important not to lose sight of why we resolved to acquire Queens Wharf from POAL in the first place. That was for a new cruise ship terminal for Auckland and for public open space. One thing is for certain the wharf will be formally handed over to the ARC and the NZ government in April next year and we will be opening it up to the public.

In regard to cruise ships, the 2008/09 cruise ship season was the largest yet, with New Zealand receiving 118,976 passengers. As the country’s key hub port, Auckland received a significant proportion of the 2008/09 cruise ship passengers (112,870). Growth in passenger numbers is expected to steadily increase, helped by announcements such as the one P&O Cruises made in October that it is going to base its newest superliner – the 1800 passenger Pacific Pearl – in New Zealand. Analysis shows that each cruise ship passenger contributes between $200 and $300 to the Auckland economy... Research carried out for the Government in 2008 showed that a new cruise terminal on Queens Wharf could generate an additional $713 million in direct expenditure over the next 10 years.

Many have been surprised at the remarkable renaissance of passenger shipping in
recent years – which most travel experts had written-off long ago as superseded by
air travel. But given that Auckland, largely thanks to the magnificent Hauraki Gulf and Waitemata Harbour, has been presented with this opportunity it is important in terms of the overall economic development of the region that we seize it with both hands.... Our current facilities are outmoded and overloaded and there is no room to grow. We also need to match the standard of visitor facilities being provided by Australian Ports. If anyone doubts this I suggest they visit Princes Wharf when a cruise ship is alongside and see the long lines of jet-lagged passengers...."

You get the picture. ARC's Chairman is VERY enthusiastic about cruise ships and the cruise ship industry. He still wants BOTH sides of Queens Wharf to be available for cruise ships - that's why he likes the picture he has in his report with 3 cruise ships.

I have had to push very hard to get the idea of public space provision on Queens Wharf to be included at the same level in ARC's thinking - as the cruise ship terminal. It's there, as you can see in the Chairman's report, but I think public space and public amenity continues to be vulnerable to the pressure for Queens Wharf to be Auckland's PRIMARY cruise ship terminal.

But I digress again. This picture shows the Diamond Princess docked at Princes Wharf. She's 925 feet long. Close to the maximum length cruise ship that can dock at Princes Wharf. You can see how she towers over the Hilton Hotel, and imagine the views of those living in the Princes Wharf apartments. I sometimes wonder whether reverse sensitivity issues are driving the cruise ship industry onto Queens Wharf....


So - what can I tell you about the confidential meeting? Well. It seems that the powers that be are interested in doing rather more than the $10 million Party Central do-up that the NZ Herald reported a few weeks ago.

Behind the scenes a lot of work has been going on to titivate and tart up the design competition winning entry (described above), so that it meets the expectations of those same powers that be who would quite like to get the whole thing done in time for Rugby World Cup. The detail of all of that was provided at the meeting. Of course there are conversations to be had, and deals to be done, and funding to be found and finalised, and other design details to be worked through, and nothing was actually finalised.

But it's a worry. Not quite in the spirit of due process.

A strong whiff of ad hockery. Another classic Auckland moment. Reminiscent of Mallard's stadium Auckland moment. Is this the only way Auckland can do anything? And if we seriously believe Auckland governance needs to be changed to get good decisions, do we really think it appropriate to allow the existing dying regime - or even a fragment of it - to decide anything as precious as the waterfront?

I won't say any more about that meeting. But I am happy to share some of the concerns I had, and some of the research I carried out before the meeting. First of all I am aware that the Design Competition Panel prepared a final report. This recommends that QW04 is the winning entry. My understanding is that the main reason it won is that it scraps Shed 10, to ensure that the cruise ship terminal part of its design can deliver the rigid requirements of the design competition brief. The brief is onerous. It talks about the need for 8000 square metres of cruise ship building space. It talks about other building requirements to meet the needs of the cruise ship industry. It turns out that there is no way these specified needs can, or could, be met by any adaptive re-use of Shed 10. That is a principle reason why QW04 won.

In other words, the price of the cruise ship terminal, is Shed 10. The Design Panel basically found that you can't have both. And clearly the security and other needs of the cruise ship terminal will always rule when it comes to public space and provision as well. And if the ARC Chairman has his way, both sides of Queens Wharf will be sacrificed to cruise ship heaven. To P&O et al.

Question: where do cruise ships to Sydney dock? Do they tie up by the Opera House - ie slap bang in the middle of downtown CBD?

Answer: No they don't. Here's one place. Nice location by the bridge. But not in the heart of the CBD. And take a look at the buildings used for the ship. Beautiful use when the ship's not there.

Question: Where are they planning to put the Wellington Cruise Ship terminal? In the heart of Wellington's downtown waterfront CBD?

Answer: No. The plan is to put it between Te Papa and the Freyberg Pool. Well away from Wellington's downtown waterfront.


It is plain stupid to shove ships into and almost onto Auckland's downtown CBD waterfront. This space needs to be reserved for promenading and public amenity and public fun.

And here's the other thing I spoke about at the confidential meeting. Remember when Queen Mary 2 came to Auckland? Fantastic wasn't it. Everybody wanted to see her. Here she is. Parked at a container terminal. She was too big for Princes Wharf. And she's too big for Queens Wharf. So. Even if the powers that be spend a whole heap of money building the titivated cruise ship terminal on Queens Wharf, the Queen Mary will still have to park at Auckland's container terminal. How World Class is that?

Queen Mary 2 is 1132 feet long. That's almost 200 feet longer than the Diamond Princess photographed at Princes Wharf above. When I asked the question about this, at the confidential meeting, I was advised that Queens Wharf needs to be strengthened to take a ship as heavy as Queen Mary 2, and lengthened as well. I was also advised that the contract with Ports of Auckland does allow for lengthening, but that the cost for lengthening has not be budgeted for.

Last time I looked the resource consent process for lengthening Auckland's wharves had not suddenly become any easier. I checked the internet to see what the trend was for cruise ships. Queen Mary 2 was - for a short time - the longest cruise ship in the world. However I learned that Royal Carribean - a major competitor for P&O - has completed, or almost completed, two cruise ships that are bigger than Queen Mary 2. One's called Oasis of the Seas (1187 feet), the other's called Genesis (1180 feet). And apparently larger cruise ship vessels are on the horizon.

How world class would Auckland look if ships like these, and Queen Mary 2, had to dock at a container wharf?

Remember the big container ship debate? Auckland was going to lose out on the world shipping stage if it didn't dredge Rangitoto Channel and expand Ferguson Terminal. These monty container ships needed water depth and berth length. So we spent the money.

Why not take a whole of waterfront perspective in planning for cruise ships AND public space. No need to cram everything onto Queens Wharf. Take a bigger look.

What is happening is not a positive reflection on Auckland planning. I say, let's stop this waterfront ad hockery. By all means spend $10 million - or even $20 million - on Party Central on Queens Wharf. But don't rush something ill-thought-out onto Queens Wharf. It's too precious.

POSTSCRIPT (dated 15th January 2010). You will have noted the discussion in NZ Herald over the past few days. Orsman's front page reveal all was triggered by this blog. The subsequent debate has engaged the attention of the PM who has blocked proposals for a major and hasty redevelopment. Interestingly, Cooper and Company have come up with a "redevelop 30 metres of land behind the red fence and keep Quay Street as it is". Which has a degree of popularity about it. I think it's another short term fix. Quay Street's use has to change otherwise Auckland CBD will be separated from its waterfront by a traffic artery/sewer.

2 comments:

Patrick @ Chelsea said...

Gosh, your argument makes perfect sense. Yes why spend all that money on a grand terminal that is already becoming dated due to its inherent size limitations.

I too would prefer a promenade poking out into the Harbour, maybe along the lines of Sydney's Rocks or San Francisco's pier 49.

juliaroberts said...

Earning money online never been this easy and transparent. You would find great tips on how to make that dream amount every month. So go ahead and click here for more details and open floodgates to your online income. All the best.