16 January 2012
Library and exhibition space unchanged
The architect responsible for designing Whakatane’s new Library and Exhibition Centre (LEC) development has confirmed that the incorporation of Visitor Information Centre operations in the new facility would not impact on either Library or Museum and Gallery space.
Andrew Irving, of Irving Smith Jack Architects, says there would be sufficient space at the centre’s reception desk, plus an adjacent area which has been earmarked for retail activities, to accommodate visitor information and booking services, brochure display and specialist AV facilities.
“Providing related or complementary services in a shared facility is a proven model elsewhere, notably in New Plymouth, where the Puke Ariki complex houses museum, gallery, library, visitor information and café facilities,” Mr Irving says. “Whakatane’s LEC meets all of the criteria required to emulate that success, including proximity to public open space and excellent visibility and accessibility.”
He adds that the availability of shared office, staffroom, toilet and storage facilities in the LEC would maximise the efficient use of space and that several options exist in the central business area which would also allow bus and tour van access to be provided.
The completion of the LEC and consideration of the incorporation of the Visitor Information Centre is being overseen by a Whakatane District Council project control group comprised of Council elected members and senior staff. Councillor David Dowd says the visitor information initiative reflects the Council’s determination to make the best possible use of its assets and reduce costs wherever possible, without affecting service delivery.
“Our research indicates that by providing these compatible services from one integrated site, we could achieve a significant efficiency gain,” he says. “At the same time, the freeing up of the Otuawhaki site would provide an opportunity to support the burgeoning businesses associated with tourism, hospitality and culture, as well as generating revenue from a commercial lease arrangement. These factors can only be good news for ratepayers and businesses.”
Mr Dowd says the Visitor Information Centre move will only occur once a suitable operator or group of operators are identified and will not delay the opening of the LEC, which, subject to final fit-out requirements, is expected to be mid-year.
For further information, contact:
Whakatane District Council
Chief Executive, Whakatane District Council
Phone: 306 0500