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“The reinvigorated teaching and research facility now has a united and strong identity with keys into our client’s aim to become one of the top ten engineering colleges in the Southern Hemisphere by 2023.”

Graeme Finlay

New ways of learning are transforming the design of university buildings as the traditional model of the lecturer standing in front of a tiered theatre is gradually replaced with more activity and group-based techniques. The universal adoption of laptops and handheld devices is just one of the reasons students and teachers are seeking flexible and collaborative spaces to learn in.

Warren and Mahoney was tasked with the redevelopment of the University of Canterbury’s College of Engineering, a collection of buildings constructed between the 1950s and 1990s which the University took the opportunity to redevelop following the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

The chief challenge was how to modernise the complex and link the existing buildings, which radiate into four wings, in order to create a new heart in the midst of the facility where lecturers, researchers and students could collaborate, communicate and socialise. “It was important that the regenerated college would be able to unite the community of engineers and improve the student experience,” says Graeme Finlay, Principal of Warren and Mahoney.

The brief was to create a state-of-the-art research and educational establishment within the confines of the existing buildings. These also needed repairing and earthquake strengthening to the higher standard required of an educational facility, a highly complex task.

The strategy adopted was to take a poorly used and run-down courtyard and transform it into a modern, inviting hub. This space, dubbed The Core, contains comfortable sofas, chairs and tables for collaborative working. There are cubicles for quiet study and private conversations, all furnished with splashes of vibrant purple, the College of Engineering’s signature colour. Drawing rooms, CAD suites, lecture theatres and meeting rooms are located around the perimeter of The Core.

The Core was opened on the first day of the 2017 academic year and College of Engineering Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Jan Evans-Freeman said that student and lecturers alike had “enthusiastically” embraced the concept. “It’s a well-used space seven days a week and a variety of functions and events are planned to maximise the benefits of the space starting early next year.” The college plans to use this hub to showcase student achievements, projects and research, and to host conferences out of term time.

The complex comprises four wings which connect directly to The Core. These are alternately dedicated to chemical and process engineering, electrical and computer, mechanical, and structural and civil engineering. Warren and Mahoney has reconfigured each of these wings to house bespoke and highly technical functions. “A key strategy is transparency of purpose and the wings are designed to showcase to the students the ground-breaking and inspirational work that goes on in these spaces,” says Finlay. A new structural engineering laboratory – one of the largest of its kind in Australasia that is able to simulate earthquakes and test full-size building structures – has also been created as a standalone building, but still part of the Engineering precinct.

Two of the redeveloped wings are already operational and two more are set to open by the end of the year. Finlay says it has been satisfying to deliver on this long-term, full-scale project. “The reinvigorated teaching and research facility now has a united and strong identity with keys into our client’s aim to become one of the top ten engineering colleges in the Southern Hemisphere by 2023.”

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Warren and Mahoney has announced the appointment of John Coop as Managing Director, taking over from Peter Marshall who has held the position since 2009.

The move will see Christchurch-based Principal Graeme Finlay replace John as Chairman of Warren and Mahoney Limited. Graeme currently holds the Deputy Chairman position.

This is the first time that Warren and Mahoney has appointed an Auckland-based Principal to lead the practice, and Peter Marshall says it’s a strong signal of the practice’s commitment to the region.  

“The Warren and Mahoney board has been actively reviewing the governance of the business and identifying leadership talent. We have a clear view on where we’re headed and a clear strategy on how to get there.

“John has the capability and capacity to take the practice forward, and his location in Auckland, with the leadership team close by, will strengthen the practice and prepare it for future growth.  

“It has been a privilege to have held this role for the past nine years over an exciting time of growth for the business and Warren and Mahoney brand,” said Peter Marshall.

John Coop has held the role of Warren and Mahoney Chairman since 2015, and has been a Principal and shareholder of the practice since 2001, and Regional Principal of the Auckland studio since 2011. His new role as Managing Director is effective as of 1 April 2018.

“We have a strong business and we are on a mission to be a New Zealand design practice active in the wider world. The more knowledge, experience and talent we can gather from afar, the more we can positively shape the New Zealand built environment.

“Peter Marshall has guided the practice superbly for over nine years, through the Christchurch earthquakes, a period of growth into Australia, and an increasingly complex construction sector. It is an exciting challenge to take on this role, and to continue this story,” said John Coop.

Graeme Finlay is currently Regional Principal of Warren and Mahoney’s Christchurch studio, Chairman of Warren and Mahoney Australia, and has been a Director of Warren and Mahoney Limited since 2006. He is a registered architect in New Zealand and Australia, and was involved in the establishment of the New Zealand Green Building Council.

“Having Graeme located in Christchurch with close ties to Australia will assist in balancing the geographic spread of our leadership,” said Marshall.

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King’s School, which soon approaches its centenary, has opened a new state-of-the-art multi-purpose learning environment as the school looks ahead to its next 100 years of educating boys.  

Located in the centre of the school, the Centennial Building has been designed to cater to the future needs of students and connect and strengthen the school’s community.

The opening of the new building is a personal highlight for King’s School Headmaster, Tony Sissons, who tasked architectural design practice Warren and Mahoney with the important job of designing a space that will need to support changing education trends and a technology future that is yet unknown.

“There were many planning discussions with Warren and Mahoney, and multiple requirements to consider, but core to the brief was the importance of human relationships within a school environment, particularly those between student and teacher.

“What we have in this building is a flexible environment that encourages collaboration with others, while at the same time providing more intimate spaces for individual and reflective learning. This is achieved without losing the strong personal relationship between each individual student and his teacher. It’s the best of both worlds,” says Sissons.

The new building adds an additional 5,000 sq. metres to the school’s existing footprint and consists of large light-filled classrooms, music studios and flexible discussion areas. It replaces the Hanna Block, which following a review by earthquake engineers was found to have serious structural problems.

Warren and Mahoney project lead and managing director, John Coop, says that the building had to connect the past and future of King’s School and that the end result replicates the real world of university facilities and contemporary workplaces.

“The space deliberately brings the activities of teaching and learning directly into the circulation pattern of the school so that movement and ambient activity are seen as positive additions to focus, rather than distractions.

“We’re really pleased with the end result, and to deliver the project on-budget with minimal disruption to the school’s activities,” says Coop.

The new Centennial Building allows a flow from individual classrooms into open flexible spaces, which can be used by students and staff from across the school. For the first time, all the school’s buildings are now well-connected by the use of bridges linking existing buildings to the new facility. The $30 million build took 20-months to complete, with most of the work being carried out during the school year.

Sissons says that the although the new building adds significant new spaces to the school, the King’s School Board is committed to not increasing its current roll, maintaining its staff: student ratio of 1:11.

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Charlotte Hughes-Hallett, Masters of Interior Design student at the Victoria University of Wellington, is the recipient of the 2017 Warren and Mahoney MIA scholarship.

Furthering our commitment to supporting the next generation of Interior Designers, the scholarship has been established to recognise talented individuals and to offer the opportunity to build closer ties with our firm and with the wider interior design industry. Charlotte is currently on a summer internship within our Wellington studio and has received a $2,000 grant towards her study.

Can you tell us about your background?

I was born in Australia and moved to New Zealand when I was 3. At the age of six I moved to Tokyo, Japan where I spent 12 years. Although it was normal and commonplace at the time, in hindsight, architectural innovation was always around me. Geographically growing up in Japan was incredibly valuable and I was fortunate enough to foster my passion and travel to numerous developing countries to volunteer in local communities, and in one instance help build a school. I returned to New Zealand and moved to Wellington at the age of 18 to start my tertiary education at Victoria University’s School of Architecture.

What drew you to study interior architecture as a profession?

Prior to choosing architecture I was tossing up between medicine and architecture. I guess I have always been fascinated with the human body, and more specifically the relationship between the human body and its environment. The concern that interior architecture has for the human body was alluring. Interior architecture designs at a scale that accommodates and thrives off the intimate sensorial operations of the human body.

Where do you find your inspiration and motivation?

Knowing that intentioned architecture can relate to and enhance the wellbeing of individuals. For the most part, our everyday activities are conducted within or adjacent to architecture. Architecture impacts everyone. In such light it inspires me to curate architectural experiences that engage with its inhabitants and generate unique, meaningful, and relevant experiences.

What made you apply for the Warren and Mahoney MIA scholarship?

One of the biggest factors that drew me to Warren and Mahoney was their multi-market experience/opportunities and their innovation. I knew that if I was given the opportunity to intern at Warren and Mahoney it would offer multidisciplinary collaborations, and challenge and further develop my artistry, creative dexterity and practical knowledge.

What are you enjoying most about this experience?

There is just so much to learn from the day-to-day experience at Warren and Mahoney. I am really enjoying being given the opportunity to work on several projects and being able to dabble in the various design phases. The office environment too is dynamic and everyone is incredibly helpful and tolerant of my constant questioning.

What did you know about Warren and Mahoney? Has this knowledge been reinforced since joining the team?

Whether it be interior, building, or master planning/urban design, Warren and Mahoney strive for quality design and to curate creative and relevant experiences that embody their clients’ requirements. This has been reinforced since joining the team. This ethos is reverberated at every dimension.

What are your career and life ambitions?

In 2-3 years I want to enrol again in part-time studies and study migration patterns and economic developmentThe biological body to architecture has a long-entrenched history. It is a standard that is necessary and should be sustainable and equitable. However, in the wake of rapid population growth, it is not readily assessable to everyone. Architecture has the power and agency to generate resilient, inclusive communities. I see myself working with organisations in developing countries to work with communities to develop innovative building solutions and processes.

What has surprised you most about working in an architectural practice?

How readily accessible material samples are. If they aren’t in the material library already, you can reach out to suppliers and have a little package awaiting you the next day. It’s amazing! I am a little obsessed with materials, especially textiles.

What are you hoping to learn / take away from your time here?

I am a greenhorn in the field of architectural practice. I mean there’s so much involved in getting something built, I am still wrapping my head around everyone’s ability to keep on top of emails, computer drafting, client meetings, site visits, coordination meetings etc. So, from this experience I fundamentally want to gain a holistic understanding of how a firm works and establish positive connections.

What are your expectations of the industry and what do you think should change / improve or evolve?

Current analyses, materials and construction technologies are pushing architecture to new heights, both figuratively and literally. Integrated technologies are frequent in contemporary environments. As great as this evolution is I hope that our sensorial needs aren’t left unmet. In our digital world, design needs to connect with people. More than ever in this modern age, designers need to embrace what makes up human experience.

If you could live anywhere, where would it be and what would your home look like?

At this moment, if I could live anywhere it would be Budapest, Hungary. Budapest is thriving, full of surprises and enthusiasm. I was there last October and fell in love with its diversity and design sphere. I would live in the historic downtown area just off the Danube river. My apartment would have basic bones. White walls, concrete floors, and exposed pipes. Adorned with a burgeoning art collection and layered rugs to add colour and life. Not to mention white orchids everywhere!

What advice would you give to someone starting their education in interior architecture?

Firstly, create freely. Be willing to take risks and deviate from the norm. And make sure you love it. Frustration is an everyday emotion when studying architecture but if you love it you’ll persevere. Like any career prospect you should see it as a lifestyle, not just a prospective occupation.

Secondly, I know at University you are living on budget, but I can’t undermine the benefits of travelling. Nothing compares to experiencing architecture in person and witnessing architecture from different cultures.

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“We are very pleased to welcome Richard to our board. He has extensive experience across key sectors such as tourism, transport and infrastructure and urban design and with organisations that are fast evolving and dynamic.”

John Coop

Warren and Mahoney Limited has announced the appointment of Richard Leggat as an independent director to the practice’s board of directors effective January 2018. The announcement represents an increase in the size of the board from seven to eight directors, with Richard Leggat joining Anne Blackburn as its second independent director. 

Warren and Mahoney’s Chair, John Coop says that as the international architectural design practice continues to grow, it’s important to bolster the diversity of perspectives that help govern the business.

“We are very pleased to welcome Richard to our board. He has extensive experience across key sectors such as tourism, transport and infrastructure and urban design and with organisations that are fast evolving and dynamic.”

“We have benefitted from Anne’s independent perspective for several years, and now in addition look forward to Richard’s expertise and insight as we continue to evolve,” said Coop.

Founded in 1955, the practice today employs almost 300 staff across seven integrated studios: Auckland, Tauranga, Wellington, Christchurch, Queenstown, Sydney and Melbourne.

Richard Leggat has been a full time director for the past six years with positions on a number of government and sporting organisations including Tourism New Zealand, Education New Zealand, NZ Post, Panuku Development Auckland, Chair of the NZ Cycle Trail, Director of Cycling and Director of Snow Sports NZ.

“Richard’s directorships have reach and presence across New Zealand, giving him insight into key national issues, as well as an understanding of the priorities and objectives of central and local government,” says Coop.

Born and raised in Christchurch, Richard says he grew up surrounded by Warren and Mahoney projects, and is looking forward to deeper involvement with the business as it is today.  

“Warren and Mahoney is a successful business with a great heritage. My experience with Panuku has shown me the importance of the built environment, how it affects people, and enhances the community and people’s lives.                                                      

“I look forward to using the insights I’ve learned from different sectors to help Warren and Mahoney make good decisions that lead to celebrated outcomes that staff are proud of and the community benefits from,” says Leggat.