Schools' performing arts centre architect counters critcism

The designing architect of the King's and Queen's Performing Arts Centre says King's High School was justified in its spending on the facility, and some of the information being bandied about by politicians in Parliament this week was misleading.

Education Minister Anne Tolley told MPs during a Parliamentary debate on Tuesday night that King's High School had built a performing arts centre which was 60% larger than was required for the size of the school, and it paid a square-metre rate which was 168% higher than the industry benchmark for this type of facility.

The school paid almost $4.5 million for the centre. Yet the Ministry of Education's present valuation was $1.275 million, she said.

However, the facility's designer and project architect, Niko Young, an associate at Parker Warburton Team Architecture in Dunedin, said some of the figures were misleading and the school had made prudent financial decisions.

Mr Young said construction had cost considerably more than the industry benchmark because the site - like most in South Dunedin - was on poor quality soil, and almost $750,000 had to be spent specifically on creating solid foundations for the building.

He said references to the performing arts centre costing $4.5 million were also misleading. The $4.5 million included the cost of fittings such as seating, curtains, lighting, sound and audio-visual equipment which was installed on separate budgets.

The building itself cost about $3.8 million, he said.

Mr Young conceded using plans for the centre provided by the Ministry of Education would have resulted in a cheaper building, but one which would have had high maintenance costs.

"We decided to go for a comparatively more expensive building, but a better-quality building requiring very little maintenance.

"I don't believe it's an expensive building. It's very cost-effective in the long term."

A spokesman for the Education Minister said the figures were presented by the Ministry of Education.

King's High School principal Dan Reddiex said the situation occurred before he and the present board of trustees took control of the school.

On that basis, he declined to comment other than to say he had inherited the situation and was working hard to do the best he could for "the boys".



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