A modern library is more than books and magazines. They are also ukuleles

A tour of Blenheim’s new library and art gallery has given a visiting minister an idea of ​​how the multimillion-dollar project is taking shape.

Economic and Regional Development Secretary Stuart Nash walked through the steel and concrete bones of the High St site in downtown Blenheim on Friday afternoon, taking a moment to admire the view over Quays Riverside Park from the second floor.

A glimpse of the trees in The Quays Riverside Park is visible through the northeast end of the second floor.

SCOTT HAMMOND/STUFF/Marlborough Express

A glimpse of the trees in The Quays Riverside Park is visible through the northeast end of the second floor.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett told Nash that the architects were stunned by the varied views from the site and that they had designed the building to make the most of it.

The government awarded $11 million last year for the $20 million construction, as part of the ‘shovel ready’ initiative designed to boost the economy as the country recovered from the Covid-19 pandemic.

READ MORE:
* Minister of Forestry joins in planting the first new generation eucalyptus tree
* Headmasters hope to start ‘master planning’ new schools before the end of the year
*Approval for three-story retirement village hoped to help Blenheim’s growing pains
* Concerns over Three Waters reforms will lead to taxpayers in Marlborough being consulted

About 15 months after the design was unveiled, the steel frames, concrete second floor and wide central staircase were in place and the plywood for the roof had arrived.

District Libraries Manager Glenn Webster told Nash the new construction would be a major upgrade from the 32-year-old center on Arthur St.

The new design would help the team fulfill the role of a modern library, be it access to “the digital world”, creative expression, contact with distant relatives, rooms for meetings, technical support for seniors or even involvement in government services. Webster said.

The steel frame and columns are up.  The team ordered materials early and avoided delays due to the national shortage.

Scott Hammond / Stuff

The steel frame and columns are up. The team ordered materials early and avoided delays due to the national shortage.

“The kid’s area will be here on this corner – it’s looking directly at the fire station and they’ve made sure there are big windows so when the sirens go off the kids can all run up to it to watch the fire trucks go out.”

Cressida Bishop, director of the Millennium Public Art Gallery, said she was excited to see spaces where books and art could mingle. The gallery’s collection had grown steadily over the past 15 years and in addition to more space, the new gallery would have air-conditioned storage space.

A dedicated seniors area would also have a ground floor area, but there would also be lifts. A cafe on the ground floor would offer a view of the river through high windows. The Taylor River Reserve would make a nice route to the library for cyclists and pedestrians, and the Wynen St parking lot was just across the road.

Deputy Mayor Nadine Taylor, left, and Marlborough Mayor John Leggett, center, host economic and regional development Stuart Nash during his construction site tour on Friday.

Scott Hammond / Stuff

Deputy Mayor Nadine Taylor, left, and Marlborough Mayor John Leggett, center, host economic and regional development Stuart Nash during his construction site tour on Friday.

Construction is set to be completed by the end of next year, although furnishing and moving the books and artwork would push the grand opening into 2023.

Site manager Nick Robinson said the construction project was fortunate to have avoided delays due to the national material shortage by ordering most of it at the start of the project, as well as likely avoiding the price escalations that followed the shortages.

Some raw materials came from Australia, steel came from China and parts were manufactured in Christchurch before the materials were delivered to a warehouse.

“We had a slight delay because of Covid, but we are actually on schedule,” Robinson said.

The work had been easy, except for the angular roof, a new challenge for the team, he said.

Project manager Luke van Velthooven told Nash that the foundation included a concrete raft to evenly distribute movement in earthquakes. An example of concrete raft foundations was the Christchurch Art Gallery which was undamaged during the 2010 and 2011 earthquakes.

Nash was in Marlborough for forestry and regional economic development events, including the planting of a new generation of drought-resistant eucalyptus trees in the Awatere Valley, a tour of the new wine research center being built on the Blenheim NMIT campus with a $3.8 million loan from the Provincial Growth Fund, and a visit to the Kaituna Sawmill.

Our coverage of this region is produced by a team of local news hounds who sniff out stories, dig up answers, chase down officials and make sure everything we report comes out for the best in the show.

When this region experienced one of the worst floods in recent history, our local team was on site when it started to rain, and they are on the ground now, sometimes cleaning the ground around them.

That work requires more than just our dedication to news. That’s why we ask you to support us with more than just your attention.

If our coverage in Marlborough is of value to you, become a Stuff supporter today.

Become a supporter

Leave a Comment