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Iconic Control Tower Reaches New Heights

Iconic Control Tower Reaches New Heights

New Zealand’s tallest air control tower will be officially opened tomorrow (Thursday, 10 September) by Prime Minister John Key. He will laser cut a giant ribbon tied around the tower’s base, sparking fireworks to mark the occasion.
Christchurch Airport’s 45 metre tower, designed by Hawke’s Bay-based Paris Magdalinos Architects (PMA), is part of a major terminal expansion for Canterbury.
The six million dollar tower project was completed on time and on budget by the Hawkins Construction Design Build Team, made up of Holmes Consulting Group, Cosgrove Major, AES Consulting and PMA.

“It has been an inspiring project from both a design and build perspective, and the final result is the icon we all envisaged from the beginning,” says PMA’s managing director Nic Magdalinos.
“The entire project team worked closely together from start to finish, ensuring aesthetic and practical considerations were factored into all decisions.”
Chris Ainsworth, PMA’s project leader for the tower development, says the structure was an exciting yet technically challenging project.

“We needed to work within specific technical boundaries while at the same time creating an iconic structure that is the gateway to Canterbury,” says Chris.

“We had to ensure no metallic objects were used near the antenna dishes and aerials which are hidden under a halo two-thirds of the way up the tower. Instead we used glass and poly-carbonates for anything near the equipment, including the screws and bolts.”

From a design perspective the tower echoes artist Neil Dawson’s iconic ‘Chalice’ sculpture in Christchurch’s Cathedral Square and is a fusion of form and function, with a base of around 64 square metres tapering to a 12 metre diameter control cab at the top.

The representation of both the solidity of the concrete structure, seemingly growing from the ground is overlaid by the lighter translucent elements of polycarbonate and steel mesh – alluding to the lightness of flight.

“Un-swayed and un-moving, the body of the tower offers safe harbour to those inside to guide, direct, see and hear. For those outside it signifies faith and security,” explains Chris.

This is not the first time PMA has worked on an air traffic control tower. The company designed the award-winning Napier Airport tower and has also worked on other aviation projects across New Zealand.

The completion of the Christchurch tower project will soon be followed by the official opening of the new Hastings Courthouse next month, also designed by PMA.

“This will be New Zealand’s foremost judicial building in terms of design and functionality,” says Nic.

“Our experience in building courthouses around the country has enabled us to fully understand and anticipate the needs of all stakeholders in the judiciary process, and deliver on them.”

Other PMA design projects currently underway include Waiohiki Marae, Trades Workshop development at EIT, hospitality projects including a hotel and significant residential developments in Tauranga, Hawke’s Bay and the Wairarapa. PMA is also working on institutional projects for the Department of Corrections in Gisborne and Hawke’s Bay, and several education projects in the Lower North Island.

Paris Magdalinos Architects (PMA) was established in 1989 by the late Paris Magdalinos, who passed away last year after a short battle with cancer.

“Paris sketched the initial concept for the tower so he would be delighted with the way the PMA design team has worked together with the other key players to turn his vision into a soaring reality,” says Nic.

“A plaque will commemorate Paris, and the tower itself is a fitting tribute for a man who always aimed high.”

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