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Warren and Mahoney opens new studio

Design firm Warren and Mahoney have moved into new Auckland offices. And surprise, surprise: the space is quite the architectural design wonder.

Auckland mayor Phil Goff officially opened the new studio on Monday evening. The studio, which has relocated to the Innovation Precinct of Wynyard Quarter, occupies two floors of the former Mason Bros building at 139 Pakenham Street West.

Goff commended the developers and architects on the spectacular regeneration of the heritage building, which he said represented the “past, present and future of Auckland.” He said that he often came down to the Wynyard Quarter as a child, when it was an industrial area, and not an exciting place to visit. However, he said that it was taking shape to become a “vital and vibrant heart of the city which will be an exciting place to work and live in.”

John Coop, regional principal of the studio and chairman of the board, says he’s pretty thrilled with the new location. “It’s an exciting time to be operating in an area that is a microcosm of the burgeoning architectural scene. With a thriving economy, visionary clients and the opportunities the Unitary Plan unlocks, architects have the chance, like never before, to shape the identity of Auckland.”

Warren and Mahoney crafted the initial reference design and master plan for the Innovation Precinct and designed the adaptive re-use of the 1920s warehouse, developed by Precinct Properties NZ. The maritime heritage of the two-storey character building, once an engineering and ship-building workshop, is still evident in the existing red brick as well as the distinctive saw-tooth roof.

The design practice also completed the workplace fit-out for the studio, which is designed as a showcase of “architecture in action.” Work stations are located along the glazed perimeter at street level, and collaborative work spills out into the atrium so that pedestrians have a visual connection to what goes on inside. The front door is a whole 20 metres wide.

Coop says that, while the studio is new, Warren and Mahoney has a 60-year history in Aotearoa. “In designing a future built environment, it is important to acknowledge the past.”

Currently, the practice is involved in landmark developments such as the New Zealand International Convention Centre and Commercial Bay. Principal Andrew Barclay, who has a 20-year career within the practice, is cognisant of the responsibility these projects entail. “They are both central to the city’s identity and so it is our architectural obligation to contribute to the public realm with sculptural form and humane scale.”

And the new studio also helps Warren and Mahoney further help create the “urban fabric” of Auckland. Says Coop: “The studio shares a common vision with mayor Phil Goff to create an urban fabric and lifestyle that matches the quality of our natural environment.”