The ugly duckling moves on
Number 9 Princes Street started life as one of the city’s finest hotels: The Grand, which opened in 1889 and saw dignitaries and film stars, debutantes and the well-heeled pass through its elegant front doors. Eventually, time took its toll: the city moved on and in time, the building became offices. In the 1980s, it was demolished but for its elegant façade, and a multi-level concrete tower rose up behind it.
By 2016 – when its last tenant, Fonterra, moved out – the building was again dated, its spaces superseded by office space elsewhere in the city. But where some would see a dated office tower, Gary Groves of Sanctuary Group saw an opportunity to reuse the core of a building that was far from its use-by date. Built by Fletchers from solid concrete, the tower is rated at 310 per cent of the seismic building code. Each floor has a three-metre stud, and there’s a generous underground
carpark – features that made it perfect for adaptive reuse into apartments. Converting the building makes intuitive sense: preserving resources to create something special in the city’s most established heritage precinct. Thanks to an iconic exoskeleton, the building will be shrouded in a new metal skin, providing generous outdoor space for each of the apartments. On the inside, the building will be completely gutted, the last vestiges of a 1980s office space have been removed, to be replaced by oak floors, custom cabinetry and vein-cut travertine marble. Downstairs, meanwhile, there’s a concierge, residents’ library and café, built around one of the most gracious lobbies in Auckland, which will restore the heart of the Grand Hotel to its former – though updated – glory. By the time its residents move in, the building – designed by renowned architecture practice Jasmax – will be of a standard that Auckland has not seen before.