Landmark House

187-189 Queen Street, Auckland

  • Landmark House.
    Copyright: NZ Historic Places Trust. Taken By: Martin Jones. Date: 21/01/2002.
  • .
    Copyright: www.cepolina.com.

List Entry Information

List Entry Status Listed List Entry Type Historic Place Category 1 Public Access Private/No Public Access
List Number 4470 Date Entered 19th March 1987

Locationopen/close

City/District Council

Auckland Council (Auckland City Council)

Region

Auckland Council

Legal description

Lots 1-3 DP 8353 Lot 4 DP 1239

Summaryopen/close

Landmark House is one of Queen Street's most distinctive buildings, and was built as the headquarters of the Auckland Electricity Power Board (AEPB) in 1928-1930. An eight-storey Art Deco tower with a corner turret, the building was effectively an advert for the AEPB, which was a public body and the sole provider of electricity in the isthmus. Electricity had recently superseded gas and coal as a major source of power, and the AEPB celebrated the dawning of a new era by opening this building on the same day as the hydro-electric dam constructed by the Public Works Department at Arapuni in the southern Waikato.

The headquarters was a self-consciously modern building, described as a 'miniature skyscraper' when built, and was one of the tallest structures in Auckland. It was the first building in the city to be floodlit and was proclaimed to have the fastest lift in the country. It was also a celebration of communal pride, with New Zealand motifs being used and local firms - including the architects, Wade and Bartley - preferred in its construction. The AEPB offices were located on the upper floors of the building, while the rest was rented out to other commercial and retail businesses. A ninth floor was added to the building in 1933. The AEPB moved their headquarters in 1968, taking a panelled boardroom to their newer premises in Newmarket. The building has since undergone a number of changes, including substantial internal alterations in the 1980s. It was refurbished as offices and retail space in 2000, when original features in its lobby were conserved.

Landmark House is significant as a highly individual landmark and is the most striking early skyscraper-style building in northern New Zealand. Its pressed cement facade, patented by Hall and Stanborough, is especially unusual while notable internal elements are retained in its lobby and original top floor. It has considerable historical importance for demonstrating the contribution of publicly owned utilities in the early twentieth century and the emergence of electricity as a major energy supply. Its value is enhanced by its proximity to other historic buildings in Queen Street, including those linked to contemporary electric technology, such as cinemas.

Linksopen/close

Construction Professionalsopen/close

Bartley & Wade

Alva Bartley was the son of Edward Bartley, a prominent Auckland architect. He trained in his father's office until he enlisted for military service. After the war he remained in London to study at the Architectural Association. He also became an Associate of the Royal Institute of British Architects.

Wade and Bartley established a partnership about 1920 and it lasted until the late 1930s. Their major works include the Public Library and Borough Council offices, Dargaville (1922), the Commercial Hotel (now De Bretts, 1927), A and G Price Ltd, Quay Street (1927), Pascoes Jewellers, Karangahape Road, the former Auckland Electric Power Board building (1930) and the 1YA Studio building (now Television New Zealand, 1934), all in Auckland.

Fletcher Construction Company

Fletcher Construction Company was founded by Scottish-born James Fletcher (1886 - 1974), the son of a builder. Six months after his arrival in Dunedin in 1908, Fletcher formed a house-building partnership with Bert Morris. They soon moved into larger-scale construction work, building the St Kilda Town Hall (1911), and the main dormitory block and Ross Chapel at Knox College (1912). Fletcher's brothers, William, Andrew and John joined the business in 1911, which then became known as Fletcher Brothers. A branch was opened in Invercargill.

While holidaying in Auckland in 1916, James tendered for the construction of the the Auckland City Markets. By 1919 the company, then known as Fletcher Construction, was firmly established in Auckland and Wellington. Notable landmarks constructed by the company during the Depression included the Auckland University College Arts Building (completed 1926); Landmark House (the former Auckland Electric Power Board Building, 1927); Auckland Civic Theatre (1929); the Chateau Tongariro (1929); and the Dominion Museum, Wellington (1934).

Prior to the election of the first Labour Government, Fletcher (a Reform supporter) had advised the Labour Party on housing policy as hbe believed in large-scale planning and in the inter-dependence of government and business. However, he declined an approach by Prime Minister Michael Joseph Savage in December 1935 to sell the company to the government, when the latter wanted to ensure the large-scale production of rental state housing. Although Fletchers ultimately went on to build many of New Zealand's state houses, for several years Residential Construction Ltd (the subsidiary established to undertake their construction) sustained heavy financial losses.

Fletcher Construction became a public company, Fletcher Holdings, in 1940. Already Fletchers' interests were wide ranging: brickyards, engineering shops, joinery factories, marble quarries, structural steel plants and other enterprises had been added the original construction firm. Further expansion could only be undertaken with outside capital.

During the Second World War James Fletcher, having retired as chairman of Fletcher Holdings, was seconded to the newly created position of Commissioner of State Construction which he held during 1942 and 1943. Directly responsible to Prime Minister Peter Fraser, Fletcher had almost complete control over the deployment of workers and resources. He also became the Commissioner of the Ministry of Works, set up in 1943, a position he held until December 1945.

In 1981 Fletcher Holdings; Tasman Pulp and Paper; and Challenge Corporation amalgamated to form Fletcher Challenge Ltd, at that time New Zealand's largest company.

Williamson Construction Company - main contract

Additional informationopen/close

Notable Features

Registration covers the building, its fixtures and finishes. Landmark House lies on the site of earlier structures, including the British Hotel and the Commercial Travellers and Warehousemen's Club.

Construction Dates

Other
1860 -
Site of British Hotel

Original Construction
1928 - 1930
Construction of AEPB Building

Addition
1933 -
Ninth floor added

Modification
1968 -
Relocation of AEPB boardroom to Newmarket

Modification
1982 -
Substantial modifications to interior

Modification
1988 -
Substantial modifications to interior

Modification
2000 -
Major refurbishment

Completion Date

15th August 2001

Report Written By

Martin Jones

Information Sources

New Zealand Historic Places Trust (NZHPT)

New Zealand Historic Places Trust

'Landmark House (formerly Auckland Electric Power Board Building), 187 Queen Street, Auckland', NZHPT Buildings Classification Committee Report, Wellington, 1986 (held by NZHPT, Auckland); New Zealand Historic Places Trust, 'Landmark House (formerly Auckland Electric Power Board Building), 185-189 Queen Street, Auckland', NZHPT Buildings Classification Committee Report, Wellington, 1990 (held by NZHPT, Auckland)

Conservation Plan

Conservation Plan

Salmond Architects, 'Former Auckland Electric Power Board Building: A Conservation Plan', Auckland, 1997

Other Information

Please note that entry on the New Zealand Heritage List/Rarangi Korero identifies only the heritage values of the property concerned, and should not be construed as advice on the state of the property, or as a comment of its soundness or safety, including in regard to earthquake risk, safety in the event of fire, or insanitary conditions.