Hustle, Bustle, And Beauty
New Zealand's Britomart Transport Center was designed primarily to restore vitality to public transportation in the Auckland area -- and, in the process, reduce automobile congestion and pollution. The city council also wanted to breathe new life into the downtown waterfront area. Finally, it needed to build New Zealand's first underground rail station because the Transport Center was near native Maori land that couldn't be disturbed. The solution was ingenious. An old, historic building, the Chief Post Office, which had been empty for a decade, was renovated.
It was refashioned to serve as an entry portal to a new, large "glass house" building that functions as a public space funneling people to what is the only underground diesel train station in the world. The architects employed the glass building as well as bright, light materials down inside the rail station to overcome the hesitancy of New Zealanders to venture underground for their transportation. They also borrowed motifs from Maori culture: native materials and designs were integrated into the Transport Center. Juror Douglas Gardner, former president of the Urban Development Group at Catellus Development Corp., said "the project was physically daunting and complex."
The architects, a young American and his New Zealand partners, "came up with solutions that achieved a number of important goals," says Gardner. Auckland held its own competition for the transportation project and Greg Boyden and Mario Madayag won. There was a substantial amount of public input from Auckland residents into the contest that eventually was reflected in the final design.