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University of Auckland Vice Chancellor’s Suite

Auckland City

The brief was to convert two floors of the south wing of the Clocktower building into one interconnected space to accommodate the Vice Chancellor’s Suite.

Designed in 1929 by Roy Lippincott, the Clocktower is the University of Auckland’s flagship building. Its heritage status was central to Salmond Reed’s involvement in the project, and heritage considerations were paramount.

Vice Chanellor's Suite renovation

The brief was to convert two floors of the south wing of the Clocktower building into one interconnected space to accommodate the Vice Chancellor’s Suite. Level 2 of the south wing had originally been a mezzanine reading room stretching around the perimeter of the wing and a new internal stair was designed to once again link the two floors. The placement of this stair provided an opportunity to reference the spatial character of the original library by visually connecting the two levels.

Transparency and continuity at the interface between the atrium and the south wing at both levels was maintained using predominantly transparent partitions. The transmission of light from the main stairwell into the atrium was also important.


Very high STC ratings for acoustic privacy had to be achieved without compromising the original heritage fabric at junctions with new partition walls. This was achieved using ply panels faced with acoustic lining, scribed exactly to the existing shaped rimu beams, plaster corbels and window mullions with minimal fixing into the original fabric.

Materials and finishes were selected for their simplicity and honesty to complement the original Mt Somers stone building. The palette of colours is deliberately neutral, to allow the original elements such as the rimu beams, plaster walls, corbels and deep gothic window reveals to be definitive. Refurbishment of the original rimu beams was integral to the success to the fitout.


Paint colours were also selected to complement the natural materials used in the new fitout such as the clear-coated mill finished steel of the glazed entrance screens and new stair strings, tasmanian oak half wall cappings, stair treads and trims.

The Resene Wan White walls are fresh and pure and the perfect backdrop for the external landscape hues and the dappled light from the large trees which are in very close prosimity to the building. With less natural light at L1 the spaces benefit from the lighter wall colour.


Resene Foundry worked beautifully with the timber trims and complements a simultaneous range of adjacent finishes. It keeps the building alive and vibrant without detracting from the heritage features.

Resene Half Masala on the covered floor margins and foyer perimeters is the perfect colour to bring together the incongruous existing stair and floor tiles with the new metallic stair trims and carpet.


Resene Enamacryl Metallic Blast Grey 1 embodied all the hues and textures of the mill finished metal which was used on all the new metalwork. In lieu of expensive coating removal from the existing metal balustrades, Resene Blast Grey simulated the qualities required to blend in with this new metalwork.

On-site application of testpot colours was invaluable in confirming final selection of colours, in both morning and afternoon lighting conditions.

Contractor: Hawkins
Client: University of Auckland Property Services
Colour selection: Salmond Reed Architects Limited
Painting contractor: Contract Coatings
Photographer: Lloyd Macomber
Project: Resene Total Colour Awards 2015

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