Wellington International Airport, The Rock

The Rock

Client: Wellington International Airport Ltd

At the outset of this project, as well as having a clear and defined brief, Wellington International Airport  told the architect design team to come up with something that was edgy, which left them scratching their heads but gave them the creative license to design something spectacular…

The controversial Rock’s bold and dramatic design is in contrast to bland halls that typify most international airports. The Rock was designed by Studio Pacific Architecture and Warren and Mahoney – inspired by the geological, historical and mythological past of Wellington’s dramatic south coast.

The strong dramatic form also alludes to the Miramar Peninsula’s emerging creative community and burgeoning film industry. The Airport’s south coast location is represented by the inside aesthetics and outside shell of the building. Glass fissures within the roof let in a warm, natural light by day, whilst back lighting at night creates a glow seen from the air.

The Rock was officially opened by Prime Minister John Key on 27 October with a public open morning on 21 November 2010.  Impact is extremely proud of the achievement of the team following five years of blood, sweat and tears.

The Rock was the final project of an extensive five year, two-stage development to increase capacity that will meet existing demand and prepare for future growth at the airport. The new terminal has more than doubled the area of the departure lounge and now allows the airport to process up to 1,000 passengers per hour.

Impact was appointed Project Director in July 2005, making us responsible not only for this project but for others within WIAL’s development plan, including the more recent ExecuJet-managed hangar at Wellington Airport, the Airport Conference Centre, the Airport’s main terminal retailtenancies, the Airport Retail Park,  car park upgrades and two new two new duty-free outlets at Wellington International Airport for JR Duty Free which were further refurnished in 2011. WIAL’s master plan extends to 2030 and includes a number of significant developments that will see more than 10 million passengers every year (more than double the current number of 4.6 million in 2010).

Impact reported directly to the General Manager Assets and Planning and, during intensive times of the project, chairing the Project Steering Committee, whose members include the Chief Executive and General Manager Commercial. Providing strategic direction to the Committee for all project matters and reporting on cost, time and consultant team progress. Impact were intently committed to delivering the project promptly and cost effectively, with a constant focus on meeting WIAL’s strict and uncompromising safety standards and ensuring minimal disruption to airport users and the passengers who pass through the airport every year. Change management (as a result of the volatile aviation industry) was a key part for our role, along with ensuring consultation with and contributions and timely decisions from the project stakeholders.

Wellington Airport continues to be one of the country’s most challenging environments in which to work, with a requirement to ensure ‘business as usual’ 24/7, 365 days a year. Wellington Airport projects require meticulous planning, rigorous attention to detail (and budget) and effective two-way communication with everyone concerned – from government agencies, the Civil Aviation Authority and airlines to fuel companies and concessionaires.

As well as a controversial design, the necessary alterations to fuel hydrants posed a challenge and threatened to cause delays. The hydrants are owned by Joint User Hydrant Installation (JUHI) and land is leased through WIAL. In order to alter the fuel hydrants, a separate agreement was entered into between JUHI and WIAL to design and install hydrants to suit the new international gates. We could not risk a similar scenario to that at Adelaide Airport, where a new terminal opening was delayed because of fuel contamination.

The Rock is one of the capital city’s most exciting development projects and incorporates the $60 million expansion of the airport’s international terminal.  It provides a vastly improved experience for passengers and visitors alike.

The Multi-Award Winning Rock

The ground breaking design by Studio Pacific Architecture in association with Warren and Mahoney has captured the attention of people from New Zealand and around the world, moving from controversial to award winning. Among other awards, The Rock was ranked by Frommers as the fourth best terminal in the World.

  • Transportation category, Inside World Festival of Interiors 2011
  • Commercial Architecture Award, New Zealand Institute of Architects Wellington Architecture Awards 2011
  • Purple Pin Supreme Award, Spatial Design category, Designers Institute of New Zealand BEST Awards 2011
  • Gold Award, Spatial Design category, Designers Institute of New Zealand BEST Awards 2011
  • Interior Fitout Award, New Zealand Wood Timber Design Awards 2011
  • RMB Commercial Project of the Year, New Zealand Registered Master Builders Awards 2011
  • Airport Project of the Year, New Zealand Airports Association Awards 2011
  • Excellence in Steel Construction Award, Steel Construction New Zealand Awards 2011
  • Merit Award, New Zealand Property Council Awards 2011
  • Supreme Commercial Project of the Year, Wellington/Wairarapa New Zealand Registered Master Builders Awards 2011
  • Gold Award, Industry and Infrastructure category, Wellington/Wairarapa New Zealand Registered Master Builders Awards 2011
  • Category Award, Industry and Infrastructure category, Wellington/Wairarapa New Zealand Registered Master Builders Awards 2011

Inspired by this project? Contact Impact for more information

Wellington Airport is in a growth phase, implementing its 2030 Master Plan which includes key areas of passenger and freight growth, terminal and runway development and integrated land use. In addition, the airport is a challenging environment, handling over five million passengers, 365 days per year and on a very compact site. Impact has always responded to our very challenging goals. Whether it is a retail fit out, or a $60 million terminal redevelopment, they constantly deliver. They provide genuine leadership to our projects, achieve outstanding results and are considered an integral part of our organisation.

John Howarth
General Manager Infrastructure and Planning 

Wellington International Airport, The Rock