Saturday, March 23, 2013

Digital media building a milestone for NZ’s AUT University

The $98 million Sir Paul Reeves building at AUT University ... a digital
media boost for the journalism school. Photo: Del Abcede/PMC
By Nicholas Jones

ONE OF New Zealand's major universities has opened a new digital media age building which has transformed its campus and significantly altered Auckland city's learning quarter.

Auckland University of Technology's new $98 million precinct, the Sir Paul Reeves building, was officially opened by Prime Minister John Key on Friday.

Vice-chancellor Derek McCormack, speaking as he gave the New Zealand Herald a tour of the new building, which was named after a former AUT Chancellor, the late Sir Paul Reeves, said it was a huge moment in the development of the campus.

"AUT has been the fastest growing university in the country. There have been big challenges. And we are only on the way, this is a milestone in a long process."

The $98 million building is the latest in a line of major building projects since AUT gained university status in 2000. Many of those projects, such as the business building, completed in 2005, had suffered from being slightly isolated.

Video walls screen a tribute to Sir Paul Reeves at the AUT opening.
Photo: Daniel Drageset/PMC
They have now been linked by the 12-storey Sir Paul Reeves building, which is in the middle of the university's main campus and houses the digital media centre and convergence newsroom, School of Communication Studies and the Pacific Media Centre.

Governor Fitzroy Place road, which ran between the Sir Paul Reeves building site and the business building, has been paved over and made into a pedestrian space, effectively creating a new quad and entranceway to the university.

Atrium stroll
In the afternoon heat, the glass walls facing that area had been rolled back, and students strolled through the building's atrium and out on to the grassed area facing Wellesley St East.

Richard Harris of Jasmax architects, which designed the building, said as well as linking the campus, a key brief had been creating an effective learning environment.

For today's students, that meant space to work and collaborate in groups. A lecture theatre on ground level has two rows of seats on each level, which can be swivelled around to face each other for times when the lecturer wants discussions to take place.

Walkways are areas between lecture theatres and rooms are dotted with groups of students using brightly coloured moveable couches, seats and low tables: There are more than 500 seats outside of lecture theatres and rooms.

Other areas have booths - not unlike in a bar or restaurant - with 120 plasma screens, which students can hook laptops up to to discuss video and images.

The building includes large open spaces for university and public events, as well as state-of-the-art screen and television studios, a motion capture, sound and performance studios, and a light-bulb lined dressing room.

Nicholas Jones, a New Zealand Herald reporter, is a graduate of AUT University’s journalism programme, largest and most innovative in New Zealand.
Lady Beverley, widow of the man who inspired the naming of the Sir Paul Reeves
building at AUT University with granddaughter Sophia (centre) and daughter Jane,
and Pacific Media Centre director Professor David Robie.
Photo: John Miller/PMC
Lady Beverley and daughters Bridget (left) and Jane as she signs the PMC visitor's book.
Photo: Del Abcede/PMC

Pasifika student journalist Khing Chadwick enjoys her first interview
with Prime Minister John Key at the AUT opening.
Photo: Daniel Drageset/PMC

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