Playing favourites #3: First Church of Christ Scientist
The First Church of Christ Scientist in upper Willis St is one of Ian Athfield's most enigmatic creations. Even if you don't like it, you'll have to admit that it's one of the most extraordinary buildings in town. Perhaps more than any other public building, it exemplarises Ath's apparently incompatible pairing of Mies and Gaudi: crisp glass volumes enveloped by organic forms, colourful glazed ceramics and impossible columns. New Zealand has few (if any) examples of the short-lived fashion for blobby buildings, so perhaps this will have to stand as an example of blobitecture avant la lettre.
On a larger scale this would have been a show-stopping, gobsmacking icon building. As it is, it's an elusive little gem of spatial metaphors, whimsical detail, domestic intimacy and resonant strangeness. It's a glowing white Rorschach test, like Hamlet's cloud "very like a whale". Every time I walk past, I'm astonished anew by the very fact of its existence.