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Ontrack Social Hall

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The Social Hall building is part of the railway precinct in Wellington, designed by renowned architect Gray Young and built in 1936. The building is listed as a Category 2 NZHPT Heritage building. The owners, Ontrack, briefed CCM to strengthen and refurbish the two storied building to a high quality, character boutique office space whilst retaining all the important historic features.

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The Social Hall is located immediately behind the main Railway Station and adjacent to Waterloo Quay; a very busy arterial route into the CBD. The original main entry off Waterloo Quay was in a most unsuitable location as it faced directly onto heavy traffic and cold winds. The ground floor garaging area was rudimentary, but with some interesting features and a wonderful deco style staircase to a hall above. The hall had generous volume, but at 1.5 metres above the floor, the window sills were unsuitable for the modern office environment proposed.

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The timber vehicle garage doors were replaced with a long fully glazed wall which incorporates a new main entrance that naturally focuses on the railway station and is protected from the wind. Crisp simple detailing to the new elements complements the heritage character of the building, enhances visual interest with the pedestrian areas and provides a good working environment for the new office space within. Upstairs, a new raised floor was constructed 500mm above the existing, reducing the window sill height and creating a wonderful light-filled office space. The raised floor also provides a void for reticulation of building services on both levels, allowing the original ceilings to stay clear of ducts and cable trays.All seismic strengthening work was hidden, and the authenticity of the original design was maintained. The 2009 NZIA Award citation reads… “A series of modern interventions sit sympathetically against the existing structure. This has allowed the old Hall to retain its grandeur through elegant and rigorous contemporary detailing.”