Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Prime Minister opens The Rock

It might sound like the name of a radio station, but The Rock is the name of Wellington Airport's distinctively different international terminal.

The Rock, likened by some to a pair of pumpkins because of its shape and copper plated exterior, is the final stage of a $NZ 60 million ($US 45 million) development that began in 2006.

Architect Nick Barratt-Boyes, of Wellington's Studio Pacific Architecture, which designed The Rock, said the terminal was modelled on Wellington's rugged south coast. The 1,600 square metres of copper on the building's exterior would be left to oxidise and turn blue-green as it weathered in the salty air.

Mr Barratt-Boyes said macrocarpa panelling and glass fissures on the interior provided a nice light. Windows allowed selective views of aircraft on the tarmac and the terminal's "sequence of spaces" allowed passengers to explore the area and people-watch.

Wellington International Airport chief executive Steve Fitzgerald said the "edgy" new building allowed the airport to process 1,000 international passengers an hour instead of the current 500. Airport traffic was expected to double by 2030. "It prepares us exceptionally well for the [2011 Rugby] World Cup and then the passenger growth that we expect through the next 20 years."

Though the building was criticised by architects when plans were first unveiled, feedback had so far been positive, he said. The first passengers who went through yesterday had congregated in The Rock, which was "a great first impression".

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