Formerly known as West Plaza, 1 Albert Street is one of Auckland’s most emblematic buildings. Completed in 1972, the building’s striking features once earned it the title of the ‘Crown Jewel of Auckland’. Ignite was approached to redevelop the podium and lower levels of the building with the aim of bringing it in-line with contemporary workplace requirements. Working alongside the original architect, Neville Price, Ignite stripped back the layers added in the 1980s and 1990s to create a design solution that celebrates the true simplicity of the building.
Ignite’s intent was to create a design that is highly sympathetic to Neville Price’s original vision. The team treated their additions as ‘light touches’, designed to complement the building’s elegant curves and distinct materiality.
“If we can celebrate the bones of a building and find appropriate ways to add value through adaptation, then it’s beneficial for both the project and the environment.”
The first design response relocates the main entrance from Albert Street to Fanshawe Street, establishing a prominent entrance lobby at the lower ground level, which reinstates the continuous podium line of the original design vision.
Retail spaces flank the main lobby to the east and west, enhancing the connection to the street for all building users. The rounded glass corners and shopfront openings speak to the curvilinear form of the building, while the white concrete finish is in keeping with the original materiality.
Pedestrians can enter from both Albert and Fanshawe Streets, which improves the natural wayfinding into the building, while the introduction of a hospitality space on the corner attracts more foot traffic along Fanshawe Street and fosters a sense of street vibrancy. To the west, the exterior spiral staircase has been retained, which gently ascends from Fanshawe Street to the upper podium level.
The design team reimagined how pedestrians access the podium by forming a glass ‘pod’ enclosure over a set of lobby escalators, all while navigating the geometry and height restraints of the canopy scoops. The design treatment of the scoops—which have come to be recognised as a defining feature of 1 Albert Street—respects and emphasises their distinctive shape and lightness of form.
Above the podium is Alberts, a flexible and modern co-working space spread across two levels. Maximising the building’s narrow floorplate, Ignite delivered the base-build refurbishment with interiors by Acme & Co.