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The building, designed in 1980 by Mason and Wales architect Ashley Muir, won an enduring architecture award at the 2021 New Zealand Institute of Architects southern branch awards.
It is thought to be one of only two buildings in New Zealand with a facade of its kind.
Institute president Judi Keith-Brown said the building also received a New Zealand architecture award soon after it was completed in 1981.
She was saddened to learn of the planned demolition of the ‘‘unique example of modern New Zealand architecture’’.
‘‘The building’s loss will leave a gap in the architectural history of Otago, and remove an important civic story from the region’s built environment.’’
Mr Muir was more philosophical about the building’s demise.
‘‘Many people don’t appreciate that a building has a life, so the demolition and replacement of a building expresses part of that life.
‘‘In that respect, it’s completely normal,’’ he said.
Port Otago chief executive Kevin Winders said the building was no longer fit for purpose and would be demolished after a three-storey replacement administration building was completed.
‘‘We’re still working through the options around our new build, and clearly we’re looking to relocate our administration block across the road which will connect to the 1877 museum.’’
Mr Winders said it was made clear to the architects’ institute the building was to be demolished when it won its latest award.
‘‘We were very clear with them at the time.’’
He said the board assessed the option of refitting and upgrading the building, but it would have cost about $10million.
‘‘That’s a significant investment, and the cost of a new build is not terribly higher than that.’’
He said the port was a constrained piece of land, and the removal of the building would provide more operational room to cater for Otago and Southland customers.
Port Otago recently received resource consent for a new three-storey administration block, which will wrap around the heritage-listed Port Chalmers Maritime Museum.