SUTER ART GALLERY REDEVELOPMENT
Scott Construction has recently handed over one of the most challenging projects in its history. The beloved Suter Art Gallery Te Aratoi o Whakatū on Bridge Street in Nelson is the oldest art gallery in New Zealand and has just undergone a $12 million refurbishment. We have just completed our work on the multi-million dollar project on schedule, in time for the gallery organisation to finish their work to complete the renovations.
Designed by architects Jerram Tocker & Barron with the galleries designed by Warren & Mahoney Architects, the renovation will see The Suter soon become a vibrant regional arts centre for the 21st century.
The project included the strengthening and restoration of the existing spaces such as the original heritage gallery and theatre, as well as building new spaces including a gallery, foyer, reception area, offices, education room, atmospheric controlled storage and café.
Refurbishing the old
In the original gallery, Scott Construction strengthened the foundations, restored the roof, and built replicas of the original 1970s doors with the help of heritage architect Ian Bowman.
The strengthening work was a demanding and fascinating. To prepare new foundations, the 17m by 11m timber floor had to be raised in one piece so the Scott Construction team could get beneath it. Using eight attachments to the roof, the floor was raised with manual hoists and then braced with steel at a height of three metres. This allowed the team to work underneath it, including all machinery, and prepare the strengthened foundation. To be efficient, we also utilised the raised floor as a platform to refurbish the inside of the roof.
Scott Construction Senior Quantity Surveyor, John Smithies says, “This was truly the most interesting part of the work we undertook. I think the restoration of the gallery interior has come out beautifully.”
The framing of the walls of the original and new galleries were a custom engineered design stretching seven metres high. John says, “Installing them was tricky because of the shape of the site and the limited access we had from Bridge Street. But, now that they’re in place, it’s hard to remember the difficulty we had because everything is so well integrated.”
The theatre now has upgraded seats and a new electrical system. The fire protection was also upgraded to the today’s standards and air conditioning was installed.
Building the new
“Make sure you look up,” John says about the foyer. “It has a number of acoustic panels of veneered timber that lay on different slopes and planes, it’s a gorgeous feature that welcomes you as you enter the building.”
Scott Construction project managed the new build work, including the foyer and all its features. Our subcontractors installed a state-of-the-art lighting system with hearing loops as well as complete Wi-fi. There are also seven columns, each with a sandblasted heke panel to represent local Iwi. The façade of the original gallery is also visible through the foyer’s high window, which is a historic nod to the former building. The box office doors are a special highlight. Made of perforated metal, they feature an image of Bishop Suter and his wife as a tribute.
The new café built by the Scott Construction team overlooks the eel pond, which SO AND SO says will be one of the city’s new hot spots to dine and relax: “It’s going to be very popular given its special location and outlook.”
Scott Construction also built a new gallery that is a smaller, contemplative space overlooking Queens Gardens, as well as a new workshop and an education room. Also, the collection storage area has been updated with maximum security and the fire protection has been upgraded to the highest rating.
Finally, new offices and a thoughtful administration area located upstairs house staff in a comfortable new setting.
The building’s exterior shouldn’t be overlooked. Two main features add to its durability and aesthetics. The entire structure is covered with a pre-weathered zinc material that is extremely hard-wearing. Stone cladding wraps the entrance on the café side of the building. These stones were installed in a modern clip style with the largest stone measuring an incredible 60cm x 1 metre.
Scott Construction contracted Nelmac to landscape the grounds. While the building team ensured throughout the process that it did not walk on the existing plants and trees to preserve them, Nelmac installed a boardwalk that links through from Queens Gardens amidst new additions to the exterior gardens.
Scott Construction General Manager Justin Candish says the final product is a significant achievement for his team. “This project really challenged us at times. Of course, we wanted to do our best because this is a special building with a special purpose right here in our home town. In the end, I think we did some of our best work on this project. I’m really, really proud of our team and all of our sub-contractors. It was an honour to go on this journey.”