I recently had the opportunity to participate in a detailed guide tour of the Town Hall.
It was a strange sensation, seeing a compromised building, twisted and leaking, where previously I had spent so many enjoyable times at so many events, being entertained in style.
The Town Hall is definitely being repaired. It will cost a lot more than its insurance will cover but our council has decided that it is to be saved.
Despite the Limes Room being tilted, the concrete floor below the auditorium ruptured and therefore bowing the auditorium's wooden floor, the basement flooded and the James Hay Theatre looking very broken, I was surprised as to how well the core of the building has stood up to the earthquake ravages.
The repair bill is expected to be around $127 million and will involve amongst other things, a new concrete foundation and platform for the building to stand on, to tie it all together again. It will be a challenging engineering feat but as was explained on the tour, the heavily engineered tubular structure of the auditorium remains basically sound. It just needs something new to sit one, The James Hay theatre is in for a serious revamp to improve some of its historical design and acoustic inadequacies. The Limes Room is to be stripped out and the restaurant below it completely redesigned.
So we are getting our Town Hall back. It will take a couple of years of full on repairs and it will be interesting to see how it is incorporated into the Arts Cultural precinct, given its location.
There is to be a lot more emphasis on accessing the building from the south side and less than impressive northern entrance is in for a serious bit of cosmetic work.
I suspect the rebuild will become a symbol of spending more than we should to protect something important to us.
I also predict that the repaired building will accommodate significant design improvements to improve over functionality.