ASB Theatre Aotea Centre
Upgrading the ASB Theatre auditorium had been planned for some time, with the funding for the $11.9 million refurbishment written into the former Auckland City Council’s Long Term Council Community Plan. To maximise a restricted programme window, the project was split into two stages.
Stage 1 entailed refurbishing the auditorium’s Stalls (lower level) during the Theatre’s quieter summer season from November 2011 to March 2012.
Significant work was undertaken to enhance the acoustic response for a range of performance types by replacing flooring, interior wall linings and ceilings with sound reflective materials. Marshall Day was engaged as the overall acoustic consultant and a sound system by Meyer Sound was installed: designed to significantly enhance the natural acoustics, ensuring that loud and soft vocals and instruments are heard consistently across the entire audience.
The concrete beneath the auditorium floor was removed and the pitch adjusted to enable greater visibility throughout the audience. The concrete was then replaced and covered in parquetry. New seating and energy efficient lighting were installed, as were new diffusers, which connect to the existing HVAC system.
In addition to a truncated programme, the project presented other challenges. Significant design changes six weeks prior to work commencing on site required the seating layout to be revised. The challenge was handled seamlessly through the skills of the consultants and their proactive response to both requests and other minor design changes. Construction firm Hawkins was appointed six weeks prior to work commencing on site, which allowed them to undertake exploratory and preliminary works to minimise potential delays and be highly proactive in their programming.
Site access when working on three faces – walls, ceilings and floor – concurrently also required some lateral thinking. For example, the existing concrete floor had to be propped, cut out in sections and then excised. Meanwhile, 25m scaffolding was erected, and the new floor was being built around the scaffolding supports.
RDT Pacific was chosen for the project due to its previous experience with clients The Edge and The Auckland Council, and its proven track record in managing complex or unusual projects (with Project Manager Ivan Ravlich having previously worked on the Civic Theatre canopy during its renovation). Senior Quantity Surveyor Khai Toong ‘KT’ Tan managed the project’s cost planning. Andrew James, Head of Facilities and Assets at THE EDGE, noted, “There were two RDT Pacific staff dedicated to the refurbishment, ensuring the many different facets of the project were carefully managed and kept on track.”
Stage 1 was completed on time and on budget, with the team ‘pulling out all the stops’ to meet the deadline. Stage 2 was undertaken from December 2012 until February 2013, and entailed new seating, flooring, in addition to ceiling and wall linings to the Circle (middle level). Andrew James was highly satisfied with RDT Pacific’s planning, which enabled adherence to the project timeline.
With its airy, contemporary refurbishment and world-class sound system, The ASB Theatre can now realise its full potential as New Zealand’s premier lyric venue.