Colonial Motor Company Building (former)

CMC Building, Ford Building, 89 Courtenay Place, 91 Courtenay Place, 93 Courtenay Place

89 – 95 Courtenay Place, Te Aro, Wellington
Map
  • Constructed

    1920 - 1986

  • Heritage Area

    Not in a heritage area

  • Builder(s)

    King And Dawson; 89 Courtenay Place, 91 Courtenay Place, 93 Courtenay Place

  • The Colonial Motor Company Building is a rare local example of a ‘flatted-factory’ building designed for the car assembly industry. Although its main, Courtenay Place façade has been much-modified, it is notable for its York Street façade - which is in near-original condition.

    Historically it is associated with the Ford and Colonial Motor Company and the motor vehicle trade. This building was designed specifically to be a vertical assembly plant, with boxed parts arriving on the top floor and finished cars leaving from the ground.

    This building contributes to the creation of a group of historic buildings in the central city that are associated with the motor trade and Wellington’s industrial heritage.

  • close History

    The Western end of Courtenay Place has had an innovative and long history with motoring and car manufacture. During the 1920s, motor vehicle dealers had established numerous showrooms and service facilities on both sides of the street.

    Vehicle manufacturers had been active in Courtenay Place since 1859 when the Empire Coach and Carriage Company built a factory on a site between Taranaki Street and Courtenay Place. In 1911, the Colonial Motor Company took over the coach building premises. The Colonial Motor Company is associated with the Ford Motor Company and by 1920 a new building for the company was being designed. The original drawings for this building are titled “Proposed Nine Storey Steel Frame Building for the Colonial Motor Company”, a proclamation for what was a technically advanced structure at the time. The building was designed by architect J.M Dawson to Ford plans, and was constructed by Hansford and Mills, and the estimated cost was £50, 000. The permit was issued in May of 1920 and was completed by 1922.

    When it opened it was the tallest Wellington construction at nine storeys. The building was designed to be a vertical car assembly plant. This was the first motor vehicle assembly plant in New Zealand where vehicles would start out in boxes on the top floor and driving out completed at the bottom. Multi-level ‘flatted’ factories are common overseas, particularly in cities where land price is high, but this example of this building typology in New Zealand.


    The CMC building had been built back from the street frontage behind a 1913 building, which was the company’s building prior to the construction of the nine storey tower and originally intended to be the site of an extension to the CMC assembly building. This previous building was demolished in 1990 as it was designated as being an earthquake risk. The main CMC building had been strengthened and upgraded in 1986, including the installation of the distinctive curtain wall which now hides the more functional 1920 façade from the Courtenay Place streetscape. The building was refurbished as a commercial office and retail space to designs of King and Dawson.

    Although it is difficult to see the original industrial purpose of this building, due mainly to the glass curtain wall that hides the plain and functional design of the Courtenay Place façade, some indication of the original look of the building can be seen from York Street. Within the Central City there are several other buildings associated with the motor vehicle trade, including the Ford Workshop in Ebor Street, the Hope Gibbons Building, and Manthel Motors, both of the latter buildings also were designed by J. M. Dawson.


    • Modifications close
      • 1920 - unknown
      • Original Construction
      • 1986 - unknown
      • Building additions and alterations – retrofit of building, exposure of concrete frame, addition of façade in mirror-glass curtain wall, earthquake strengthening, and addition of floor
      • 1990 - unknown
      • Demolition of 1913 CMC building
      • 2005 - unknown
      • Alterations – interior fit out – new partitions, level 2
      • 2006 - unknown
      • Internal addition and alterations – installation of 2 doors in foyer, including card readers and emergency exit buttons. Internal alterations/refurbishment – combine dental surgeries
      • 2007 - unknown
      • Installation of Woosh wireless telecommunications transmitter
      • 2008 - unknown
      • Internal alterations – internal office, laboratory fit out
      • 2009 - unknown
      • Additions and alterations to upper level of building, addition of new door and access ladder
      • 2010 - unknown
      • Building addition – interior fit out for new hair salon on ground floor
      • 2011 - unknown
      • Commercial refurbishment of building front, main entry, and lift cars
      • 2013 - unknown
      • Commercial seismic upgrading – installation of 14 No. steel braces
    • Occupation History close
      • unknown - unknown
      • Not assessed
  • close Architectural Information
    • Building Classification(s) close

      Not assessed

    • Architecture close

      Although the CMC building has a much-modified primary elevation to Courtenay Place, the secondary elevation to York Street remains in near-original condition.

      From the south, the building rises as a tall nine-storey box, from the narrow service lane of York Street. This elevation is decorated with an attractive string-course above the first floor windows that is punctuated at each column by a stylised Art Deco plaque. The façade is undecorated until the cornice above the sixth-floor windows which is ‘supported’ by stylised brackets. Above the cornice line, the two end bays project forward from the wall, and each frame a single seventh and eighth floor window. These bays are topped with a stepped parapet that is decorated with a mix of Art Deco and stylised Classical motifs. The word ‘Ford’ is set on the central stepped parapet.

      From the north the building shows only a vague resemblance to the production factory of the past. The c.1986 retro-fit has exposed the concrete frame, and sheathed the front façade in mirror-glass curtain walling. Major works in this period include the addition of a roof-extension to the CMC building and the demolition of its c.1913 northern neighbour.

    • Materials close

      The building is a steel framed structure, fully encased in concrete. Modern additions include a mirror glass curtain wall.

    • Setting close

      The building is set back from the street frontage and only possesses minor streetscape values. It fits well with other buildings in the area in terms of size, but the Modern mirror glass façade is not particularly harmonious. The southern elevation is in near-original condition but is set on a narrow lane and, as such, has little townscape value.

      The CMC building contributes to a rich collection of heritage buildings in the area. It is a part of a group of buildings that are related to the industrial and manufacturing heritage of Wellington. It is associated with other buildings of the motor vehicle trade such as the Ford Workshops in Ebor Street, the Hope Gibbons Building, and Manthel motors - both the latter buildings were also designed by J. M. Dawson. 

  • close Cultural Value

    The Colonial Motor Company Building is a rare local example of a ‘flatted-factory’ building designed for the car assembly industry. Although its main, Courtenay Place façade has been much-modified, it is notable for its York Street façade - which is in near-original condition.

    Historically it is associated with the Ford and Colonial Motor Company and the motor vehicle trade. This building was designed specifically to be a vertical assembly plant, with boxed parts arriving on the top floor and finished cars leaving from the ground.

    This building contributes to the creation of a group of historic buildings in the central city that are associated with the motor trade and Wellington’s industrial heritage.

    • Aesthetic Value close
      • Architectural

        Does the item have architectural or artistic value for characteristics that may include its design, style, era, form, scale, materials, colour, texture, patina of age, quality of space, craftsmanship, smells, and sounds?

        The Colonial Motor Company Building is a rare local example of a ‘flatted-factory’ building designed for the car assembly industry. Although its main, Courtenay Place façade has been much-modified, it is notable for its York Street façade - which is in near-original condition.

      • Group

        Is the item part of a group of buildings, structures, or sites that taken together have coherence because of their age, history, style, scale, materials, or use?

        This building contributes to the creation of a group of historic buildings in the central city that are associated with the motor trade and Wellington’s industrial heritage.

    • Historic Value close
      • Association

        Is the item associated with an important person, group, or organisation?

        This building is associated with J. M. Dawson, a prominent architect who designed a number of buildings in Wellington.


        Historically it is associated with the Ford and Colonial Motor Company and the motor vehicle trade. This building was designed specifically to be a vertical assembly plant, with boxed parts arriving on the top floor and finished cars leaving from the ground. This association makes this building important in the industrial and manufacturing history of Wellington. 


    • Scientific Value close
      • Archaeological

        Does the item have archaeological value for its ability to provide scientific information about past human activity?

        This building is a part of the NZAA r27/270 Central City archaeological area.

      • Technological

        Does the item have technological value for its innovative or important construction methods or use of materials?

        This building is of technical value due to its innovative construction with a heavy steel frame and high load bearing floors.

    • Social Value close
      • Public Esteem

        Is the item held in high public esteem?

        This building has historic association with the Ford and Colonial Motor Companies and this may provide it with some public esteem.

      • Identity Sense Of Place Continuity

        Is the item a focus of community, regional, or national identity? Does the item contribute to sense of place or continuity?

        This building is associated with the industrial and manufacturing history of Wellington, in particular the motor vehicle industry. CMC maintains an office in the building at present (2013) which gives this building some sense of continuity/traditional use value.

    • Level of Cultural Heritage Significance close
      • Authentic

        Does the item have authenticity or integrity because it retains significant fabric from the time of its construction or from later periods when important additions or modifications were carried out?

        Although this building has had a retrofit, it still maintains original materials, and the façade on the York Street frontage is significantly unmodified.

      • Local Regional National international

        Is the item important for any of the above characteristics at a local, regional, national, or international level?

        This building is of local importance due to the contribution that it makes to the history of Wellington. It is associated with industry and manufactures, which few buildings in the central city are, in particular motor vehicle assembly. It contributes to a rich collection of heritage buildings in the area.

      • Rare

        Is the item rare, unique, unusual, seminal, influential, or outstanding?

        The building is an example of a ‘flatted’ or vertical factory, which although relatively common in some overseas cities, is a rare in New Zealand

      • Representative

        Is the item a good example of the class it represents?

        This building is a good example of a functional and commercially influenced building design. Its heavy steel frame and high floor loading give this building technical importance.

    • Local / Regional / National / International Importance close
  • close Site Detail
    • District Plan Number

      16/ 67.3

    • Legal Description

      Lot 1 DP 73633

    • Heritage New Zealand Listed

      Not Listed

    • Archaeological Site

      Central City NZAA R27/270

    • Current Uses

      Commercial and Retail - Offices

    • Former Uses

      Commercial – Car manufacture

    • Has building been funded

      No

    • Funding Amount

      Not applicable

    • Earthquake Prone Status

      Not Earthquake Prone

  • close Additional Information

Last updated: 10/10/2017 4:01:44 a.m.