The west wing of the University of Otago's dental school
Walsh Building which is scheduled for replacement. Photo by
The University of Otago has a responsibility to make sure
the unique character of its dental school building is kept,
Dunedin historian Peter Entwisle says.
Mr Entwisle said there was a danger some of the character of
the underappreciated example of ''glass and steel modernism''
could be lost when the university embarked on its ambitious
plan to renovate and add to the 1961 Walsh Building in Great
This comes as university chief operating officer John Patrick
revealed more details about the project, which included
demolishing the building's west wing and erecting a new
clinical block in its place.
The plan, which was approved last week, would cost less than
a new building, but would take longer to complete, Mr Patrick
Mr Entwisle was not worried the 1980s-built west wing - which
sits behind the original Walsh Building - was being
demolished, as it was not in keeping with the rest of the
''That last addition was just crude. It's a B-grade addition
to an A-grade building.''
He believed the university faced a difficult task balancing
the needs of a modern dental school and retaining the
character of the New Zealand Historic Places Trust category 1
''It is a very fraught project. Exactly how they go about
adding on to, or building around the 1961 building, that will
be the test of how successful everything is,'' he said.
While the building was largely disliked by citizens, it was
one of the best examples of ''glass and steel modernism'' in
Property services director Barry MacKay said a decision last
week to go with a new architect to lead the project was not
due to a falling-out with the previous architect.
With the project on hold since the beginning of last year,
the university decided to ''have a fresh look at the design
options by retendering the lead architectural services'', Mr
MacKay said, noting ''the original lead architect
participated in that process.''
Otago University Faculty of Medicine dean Prof Peter Crampton
said: ''This major upgrade will ensure the school can
continue to enhance its considerable strengths in research,
education and providing healthcare to New Zealanders,'' he