Chambers already a hit; Glenroy gutted

Workers have moved from the Dunedin Municipal Chambers to the Glenroy Auditorium next door, as the upgrade of Dunedin's Town Hall complex continues.

The Otago Daily Times was given a tour of the nearly-completed Municipal Chambers and the half-gutted Glenroy Auditorium yesterday.

The Municipal Chambers was flush with a new building smell, wafting up from newly laid carpet, new paint and an impressive redesign of the interior.

Dunedin City Council city property manager Robert Clark said the upgrade included improved lighting, fire systems and other technology, and a dramatic reorganisation of rooms to create more conference space.

The result was already a hit, despite the finishing touches still being added. Octa Associates held a conference there yesterday, he said.

It was one of two multi-day conferences and five or six meetings staged at the venue since it reopened on July 20.

Next door was a different story. Workers from Amalgamated Builders Ltd moved in last month to begin gutting the interior for an almost-complete overhaul.

The auditorium itself remained largely intact, but the Fullwood Room upstairs was already a shell.

Mr Clark said plans included opening up the interior to provide more space for functions and to let in more light, allowing visitors to appreciate the interior as well as views of the nearby St Paul's Cathedral.

The auditorium would be refurbished, but its acoustic qualities protected - and hopefully enhanced, he said.

However, the biggest surprise was downstairs, where workers removing ceiling panels from a kitchen had discovered ornate lights and art deco-style cornices, dating back to the building's construction, hidden underneath, Mr Clark said.

"We didn't know they were there.

"When you start pulling these places apart you don't know what you were going to find."

The features would be retained and the lights - which appeared in good condition - would be moved to one of the new function spaces, Mr Clark said.

The Town Hall itself was due to close in late October, after the Rugby World Cup, for work to begin inside, and was not due to reopen until December next year, he said.

The upgrade work meant the Glenroy Auditorium would remain closed until the Town Hall reopened.