Key Milestones and Updates in Q’s Construction

See Q's journey from breaking the ground to the final coat of paint...

10th December 2009  /  Construction Begins

Q management and supporters, including well-known performers Bruce Hopkins, Peter Elliott and Jennifer Ward-Lealand, gathered for the official ceremony to mark the start of construction. Auckland Mayor John Banks broke the ground and officially launched the building phase at a ceremony which took place at the back of 305 Queen Street, where Rangatira now stands. “This project has been more than 10 years in the making,” said Mr Banks. “It is really very rewarding to see it come to fruition. The new theatre will complement the other facilities in the area that contribute so much to enlivening the cultural life of our wonderful city."

The ASB Community Trust is one of Q’s major supporters, along with the Lottery Grants Board and our foundation partner Auckland City Council, and ASB’s CEO Jennifer Gill also attended the ceremony. “ASB Community Trust supports projects that foster access, engagement and experience in the arts and cultural opportunities for all of our region’s citizens. This new modern facility will be a creative hub which will fill a long-term gap in Auckland’s arts infrastructure, enhancing opportunities to experience national and international performing arts,” said Ms Gill.

It was announced at the ceremony that Naylor Love have been contracted as Q’s construction company. Chairman of Q, Andrew Caisley commented, “Naylor Love will begin work on site today and from here on in the project will gain momentum at a dramatic rate. We are budgeting on a two year construction time horizon and so there is much exciting work ahead of us as we pull together the business and the community that will make Q a success from the day the doors open.”

17th April 2010  /  The Crane Goes Up

The Clearwater crane for Q was delivered and assembled onsite. Pictured above the crane arm (white) is seen being hoisted into place by the blue assembly crane.

27th May 2010  /  First Concrete Poured

Naylor Love poured the first section of the base concrete slab for the theatre.

21 June 2010  /  A Moment With The Architects

Q’s architects Pip Cheshire and Simon Mclean of Cheshire Architects tell us a bit more about the project.

How long have you been involved with Q?

P:I started doing site analysis about 8 or 9 years ago then built up momentum from there through consultation, brief writing & then designing. 

S:I took over the role of project architect in late 2008 & have been engrossed in it since.

What is most enjoyable about the project?
P: There cannot be anything much better than doing a very complex project for people who are as committed to their art & craft as we are about ours.  There are great overlaps between our fields of endeavour in terms of the creation of place & the manipulation of audience/user experience & emotion though I do envy the lack of waterproofing required of a stage set.

S:The Q team & through them the wider industry are great clients. The energy contributed by them challenges & inspires me to give everything I can back to the project.

What is most challenging about it?

P: There are a million challenges: fitting theatre geometry into the old building & odd site, the proximity of the Town Hall, the heritage tree, the heritage river, the budget, the need to ensure the users, the actors, designers & Q know & approve what we are doing & so on, but underlying it all is the knowledge that all of these million challenges have to add up to a superb theatre & a great place, a lot more than just a compilation of good decisions.

S:Any theatre is a complex project & giving each of the issues the attention it deserves is a constant challenge.

20 July 2010  /  Seven Months In

Q has officially been under construction for 7 months and 10 days (or 222 days). Progress is going well and our opening period will be in the latter half of 2011. Work is now progressing above ground, with most of the ground level concrete panels that mark the footprint of the auditorium laid. The floor level of the auditorium is also going into place and concrete in the bar/cafe area is being laid.

Q has made its presence known with vibrant pink banners along Queen Street and Lower Grey’s Avenue and just this month continued to raise the profile with a big yellow Q being installed on the construction crane. With all that is happening on site we have begun a series of tours that will continue to take place for the remainder of the construction period and allow us to show our donors, supporters, friends, advocates and future users just what a fantastic facility Q is shaping up to be for Auckland.

26 October 2010  /  Historic Storytelling Through Architecture and Design

While a theatre of Q's scale and functionality is new to Auckland, restoration and respect for local heritage is integral to the venue’s design. The foyer, cafe/bar and studio will be housed in an 85 year old building constructed originally for the No Deposit Piano Company. At the rear of the main auditorium, facing onto Lower Greys Avenue, passersby will get a glimpse of the backstage activity through an old garage entry portal dating back to 1928 which was conserved by Q during demolition of the former Town Hall Parking station.

"The theatre expertly complements the rich texture and heritage of the Aotea precinct,’"says George Farrant, Auckland City Chief Heritage Advisor, "The new theatre will in all respects be a happy addition to the established historic, visual, and performance identity of the area."

Cheshire Architects, who are responsible for the theatre’s design, have seen it as a priority to pay tribute to the work of W.A Holman and L.V Moses and Grierson Aimer and Draffin who were the original architectural companies behind the No Deposit Piano Building and the Town Hall Parking Station respectively. “The reuse of the No Deposit Piano Building and garage portal within the Q complex brings together two critical aspects of Auckland’s culture and identity: the performing arts and the physical manifestation of the city’s heritage. The synergy between use and building will benefit both with the future of two fine pieces of architecture assured while providing a great identity for a major new city venue.” says Director, Pip Cheshire.

Susanne Ritzenhoff, Q’s General Manager reflects that, "At its heart, theatre is about telling stories. When people walk through Q’s doors they will be met with a sense of the city’s historic roots colliding with its new journey and cultural evolution. Honouring the heritage of this space is so much a part of Q beginning to tell the stories of our city."

10 December 2010  /  Auditorium Roof is Completed

Q is celebrating a major construction milestone with the completion of the new auditorium roof that makes the building watertight.It is one year since the first sod was turned for the complex project which involves the refurbishment of an 85-year-old building on 305 Queen St, Auckland and the construction of a new auditorium on Lower Greys Avenue.

“We are absolutely delighted with progress,” says Q General Manager Susanne Ritzenhoff. “We can really see the auditorium taking shape now and building is on schedule with the theatre’s first show set to open in September 2011.” Original brickwork, ceiling mouldings and beautiful old windows have been retained, and in restoring the old building, the construction company Naylor Love has unearthed hidden treasures including an old safe door which will feature in Q Theatre’s box office area, and a hidden staircase with old tiles.

Ms Ritzenhoff says some additional fundraising will be undertaken during the next 12 months to make up the shortfall in funds, caused in part by unanticipated soil contamination, and ensure the new theatre will be equipped to the standard that has always been intended.

11 April 2011  /  Morning Tea in the Cafe

With six months until Q opens, some of New Zealand’s favourite actors put on morning tea in the construction site to thank the builders who have been working on the job.Shortland Street’s’ Faye Smythe, Outrageous Fortune’s, Wesley Dowdell, Eve Gordon from The Almighty Johnsons and Paul Gittins (The End of the Golden Weather) helped serve delicious pastries and quality espresso to more than 40 builders who are working to complete the new performing arts facility by September 2011.

For many of the actors, it was also their first look inside the theatre. “The building is going to be incredible when it is complete,” says actor Wesley Dowdell, who will be one of the first to tread the boards at Q. “Even now, when it is just a shell, the space feels amazing. At the morning tea I learnt the extent and complexity of the work that has gone into constructing Q and it was great to have the opportunity to thank the construction team in person at the future Q café.”

When Q’s café does eventually open to the public it is envisioned as a space where audience members, performing artists and anyone walking past can come day or night. The cafe will welcome visitors who want to spend hours relaxing at a table or accommodate those needing a quick bite before a show. “In many ways the morning tea epitomised what Q is all about,” says Q’s new director Carla Theunissen. “It’s more than just a venue where you see a show; it’s where audiences and performers can connect, perhaps over a great cup of coffee in the café.”

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