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Heritage icon set to revive city glamour

Heritage icon set to revive city glamour
Notable for its stripped back classical style, the Public Trust Office building was praised in its day for delivering a sense of dignity and security.

Saved from demolition, the former Christchurch Public Trust Office building on Oxford Terrace is set to revive Jazz Age glamour in the city as a multi-million dollar restoration nears completion.

Designed by renowned Christchurch architect Cecil Wood, the 1925 building was badly damaged in the Canterbury earthquakes and was in danger of demolition until Box 112 stepped up to restore it in 2017. A $1.9 million landmark heritage grant was awarded by the Christchurch City Council to kick start the project.

“The Council has shown tremendous civic leadership in their joint desire to support these iconic historical buildings,” says James Stringer, of Box 112. “Without their support, the city would not have this building.” Notable for its stripped back classical style, the Public Trust Office building was praised in its day for delivering a sense of dignity and security.

It epitomises a 1920’s penchant for simplified design that was then driving up skyscrapers in New York too. On a 1920’s visit to the US, Cecil Wood had been struck by the pace of change there and was moved to observe that America led the world in architecture. A sense of those innovative, progressive days lives on in this grand building.

It includes a magnificent entrance with double-height marble lobby and massive steel frame windows, all now beautifully restored. “We have purchased the revolving door from the original 1919 Pyne Gould Guinness building on the corner of Manchester and Cashel Streets to serve as the main entrance.

“The lift is an original steel and glass frame feature throughout the building; lifts started New York’s 1920s’ sky scraper boom, so were seen as real engineering marvels. “We have gilded the crest above the door with gold leaf and plan to reinstate a number of original feature hand rails.”

Following the extensive strengthening and fit-out, with 360 Architecture design work, this Category 2 Heritage NZ listed building is set to become a landmark city destination offering exciting new hospitality options, including a tapas bar on the roof (run by Jeremy Stevens, co-owner of Aikmans Bar) that will hold around 100 people.

“It will be something truly world class and will be the only place on Oxford Terrace to enjoy the sun late into the afternoon, year round.”A cocktail bar, run by Miro Café owner Francesca Voza, is poised to open in the basement.

“It will have a very cool underground jazz-like vibe and has the original 1920’s safety deposit boxes that are going to be re-used.”Office tenants include Graham Consulting, Architectus, Novo Advertising & Design and there is a set of office suites.

“We just have some smaller office suites and two beautiful boutique retail spaces facing Oxford Terrace remaining. “The retail spaces have verandas and steel framed doors overlooking the Terrace which are stunning.”

The Public Trust Office is a key heritage building on the City Promenade by the Avon River, with others including the former Municipal Chambers (1887) and the Midland building (1934).“This building, amongst others, helps tell the story of Otakaro to the world and to our future generations.

They are true icons of our city and being able to repurpose them so they are fit for purpose for modern businesses is a real privilege. “We couldn’t do it without the support of our investors, consultants, the city council and the businesses that share our vision for them.”

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