Playing favourites #9: School of Architecture and Design
The next on my list is Victoria University's School of Architecture and Design at 139 Vivian St. Strangely, the School's own "About Us" page doesn't mention anything about its architectural history, beyond that it was converted from a cargo building. I know that it was originally an Air New Zealand building from the 1960s (I think that one of the artworks at Olive cafe uses the letters from the old sign), and from memory I think that the architects of the conversion were Craig Craig Moller, but I'm open to correction.
In any case, it was one of the most radical building conversions in Wellington, and it's hard to remember the dull grey original. It looks like a huge glass spike has been driven through the front elevation, and this brutal slicing of the host building, together with the acute angles of the glass and steel elements, give it just the slightest hint of deconstructivist architecture. This is softened by the smooth curves along the top, and brightened up by the bold red paint job, giving a nod to postmodernism. Inside, there are hints of High-Tech and remnants of the late Modernist original, making this a mini-essay in the architecture of the last 50 years.
It's far from perfect from an urbanist perspective, though. The entrance is tucked almost apologetically around the corner, whereas Cobblestone Park gets a dour stone wall as a backdrop rather than the active edge it deserves. I know that the park is supposed to be redesigned soon, and this would be a great opportunity to give the building a park entrance. Despite these niggles, it's still a bright and lively presence on Vivian St and a great example of how building conversions don't have to be timid and deferential to be successful.