The Crossing was designed to please. The 24,700 square metre development is the focal point of Auckland’s Highbrook, a 40-hectare business park in the southeastern suburbs. Five buildings around a central plaza incorporate office, retail, accommodation, hospitality and leisure services for the thousands of people who work at the business park, and the 28,000 commuters who travel through the park each day.
“We wanted to make it so interesting that people driving past would feel the need to stop and have a look,” Goodman New Zealand general manager, development, Pete Dufaur said. Work to install infrastructure and parking facilities began at the end of 2011, with Dominion Constructors starting construction the following March. Three main buildings constructed on a central concrete plinth form the basis of the development, with the potential for two more to be constructed at a later date. The first, a two-level office block with retail units below, is already complete and most tenants have moved in. The second building, which sits opposite the office and retail block, is still under construction and will house a 60-room Quest hotel, a conference centre and a gym.
The third is a glass and steel two-level structure called ‘The Icon’, which will have a restaurant and bar on the ground floor, and offices with extensive parkland views on the level above. The main facade is due for completion at the end of April 2013. A covered walkway will lead from The Icon into the central plaza, with canopies made of clear fabric on a steel structure.
Construction was originally planned so all buildings in the overall development would be complete at the same time. “But the need to complete the office building in time for law firm Wynward Wood to move in last month put pressure on the construction time frame,” JCP project manager Lisa Bryan said. “The Icon has only been coming along in the last week or two,” she said.
“As well as the office on level one, there will be a small mezzanine office with the building. LED lights will surround the edge of the building so it can be seen from a wide surrounding area when lit at night.” The office building has precast panels erected onto its structure, with hexagonal metal sunshades. Most are on the northwestern corners, which get the most sun, and were designed to mimic the shapes of the surrounding headland.
CDA Architecture designed the hotel building, while Jasmax designed the other four buildings. A nine-storey tower between the office building and hotel is planned to complete the development, while space will allow for another three-storey building if required at a later date.
Dominion Constructors project manager Graeme Harvey said the project involved overcoming various challenges, something which required precise planning. “The Icon is a structurally glazed building with a steel frame. The challenge has been dealing with the specifications on structural steel caused by the weight of the glass facade,” Mr Harvey said. “Each section of window weighs between 350 and 400 kilograms, with some of the big ones weighing up to 600 kilograms.”
There were also issues with windows in the main hotel building, in which everything was in modules of 1.2 metres. “We’ve got raking sections in hexagonal shapes and needed to get the windows behind the 1.2 metre segments. When we put the windows in we had to make sure the precast was spot on. We started at the front atrium and worked anti-clockwise around the building with the window installation. It was crucial wherever we had a change in direction in a hexagonal shape that the windows lined up.”
Levels one and two had to be fitted up to the curtain wall, with windows on those levels fitted up to the curtain wall on the four external corners of the building. The precast installation took two and a half months. Mr Harvey said the project took a lot of planning; including ensuring the precast was precise for the windows.“We also had to have a special crane for the office building.
“A circular crane was set up on the podium between it and the hotel. It focused on the precast, with the structure and panels we had to put around the building. “One of the things we had to manage was getting that section finished so we could get the crane out in time to finish the structure for the concrete podium.” The Crossing is quickly coming to life, with one set of tenants already occupying a level of the office building, and the retail units below nearly full. “The amenity has been designed to provide everything the tenants of Highbrook might want on a day-to-day basis,” Mr Dufaur said.
Although a nine-level tower is being planned for The Crossing, it is difficult to predict tenant demand. But those that come along early in the process are more likely to have a say about how it will be completed. “Quest had a substantial say in how the hotel building would work, as did Waipuna, future tenants of the conference centre that is now under construction.”
Goodman New Zealand head of projects Peter Yendell said The Crossing was efficiently planned, with infrastructure and outside car parks put in first to enable easy access for builders. The company was also made aware early on in the development planning process that there was interest from a number of short-stay accommodation providers. “There were project teams coming out to businesses in the park and very few places to stay in this part of the world. We ended up opting for a 60-room hotel, which is being leased to Quest for 10 years.”
Mr Yendell is excited about the attention to detail on both the buildings themselves, and with the amenities being provided. “The plaza is intended as an attractive area for relaxation, with its canopied walkway, seating, shelter from the wind, landscaping, and an open fireplace, as well as a crossing place between buildings. And the planned nine-level building between the offices and hotel will make the plaza even more enclosed. The lighting at the top of The Icon will be a focal point for the whole park and nearby community – a beacon.”