National Library

Impact was appointed project manager for the high-profile and nationally significant National Library of New Zealand $65 million building redevelopment in Wellington, in October 2009. For the past three years we have worked closely with the National Library during the design, procurement, construction and occupation phases. We have added value to this highly complex project by implementing our diverse range of management skills.

The National Library collects and safeguards New Zealand’s documentary tāonga in all forms and media, including digital, to preserve and enhance the country’s shared knowledge, and for the benefit of future generations. Designed in the 1970s and built in the 1980s the National Library building was deemed no longer fit for purpose, and rapidly running out of storage space – the collections valued at around $1 billion were stored in leaky or poorly controlled environments.

Importantly, the continued care, protection and security of the heritage collections was a priority. During the course of the redevelopment the National Library put in place long-term preservation and packaging solutions for the collections, to ensure they are kept safe. The collections remaining in the building were stored in protected areas that the redevelopment won’t affect.

The project management included the careful phasing of construction work, meaning that only 20% of the Alexander Turnbull Library (ATL) heritage collections, which were frequently accessed, needed to be relocated offsite during the long refurbishment. The potential impact on the remainder of the collection (which was carefully packed and stored on site) was the paramount consideration in all planning, risk management and impact assessment of construction. Key risks included damage caused by dust, water, vibration, temperature and humidity fluctuations.

The building redevelopment fixed leaks on the roof, replaced obsolete building services systems (security, HVAC etc.) that no longer work properly, optimised research spaces and provided space to store the collections for the next 20 years. The project set out to achieve 75% of ATL collections to be stored in a suitable environment with innovative and targeted design. The outcome is now 100% of these collections are stored in temperature controlled environments.

The Library officially reopened its doors to the public on 27 November 2012. This was marked by a morning ceremony, with the Prime Minister, The Right Honourable John Key cutting the ribbon to the Gallery. The event was also attended by the Honourable Chris Tremain, the current Minister of Internal Affairs, Minister of Civil Defence, and Associate Minister of Tourism.

The public now have the opportunity to see the new-look Molesworth Street Library, along with greatly improved services.

From the very start of the project, the Impact team (including Garth Palmer, Mattias Nilsson, Alex Sargent and Chris Reed) worked closely with the National Library’s team to develop a Collection Protection approach.

The project is regarded as one of the more complex Impact has undertaken and as stated by the National Librarian, Bill Macnaught on Radio NZ (Arts on Sunday Show on the renovated National Library) on 11 November, the project was delivered on time and under budget. This is a testament to the rigorous processes put in place by the Impact team and is a real success by international standards.

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Impact has worked hard to understand the objectives and needs of the Library’s modernisation programme. The complexity of dealing with a building that contains New Zealand’s documentary heritage collections is challenging, but Impact is meeting this challenge professionally. We have developed a strong working relationship with Impact and they have become critical members of our team.

- Rob Stevens, Programme Manager, New Generation Implementation Programme, National Library of New Zealand