Today, Christchurch City Council voted to fully restore the Christchurch Town Hall after the Canterbury Earthquakes. More on the vote can be found at The Press.
For us, it is a bit more personal. The Christchurch Town Hall was the last project that founder Lyall Holmes designed before his death in 1970. In 1967, he added a partner to the practice, Brian Wood. Brian worked with him on this project and saw it through to completion on Lyall’s premature death.
Already renowned by this time for his work with concrete, his famous friendship with Sir Miles Warren and contribution to the Brutalist Modern movement, Lyall Holmes solved some interesting engineering problems to ensure the Town Hall could be built as envisaged by Warren & Mahoney.
Some of these included “planning the concrete roof with a 110 foot clear span; the floating roof of the Limes Room and most novel of all, the positioning and fastening of the asymmetrical reflector panels to meet the precise definition of the acoustic expert. Positioning the wires to support the hanging panels over the stage was an even more delicate operation, finally solved with the aid of schoolboy geometry – much to the amazement of cynical onlookers.” (Source: A Dream Come True – The Christchurch Town Hall; W.J.A. Brittenden).
The Christchurch Town Hall was an important milestone for Holmes, arguably marking the time when New Zealand at last produced a public building of international significance, of its own style and making.
We were working with Warren & Mahoney on the Town Hall’s first major upgrade when the earthquakes struck and have stuck with it through the frequent assessments and reassessments of that period. We are honoured to be part of the team to set things right for the Town Hall.