20th century Auckland architecture

Auckland grew massively over the 20th century, from being a similar size to Christchurch, Wellington and Dunedin, to being over three times their size, and home to a third of the population. Much hideousness was built and much beauty lost, but a number of cornerstones of Auckland architecture remain.

Auckland Town Hall (1911)
Originally designed to have a twin building facing it across Aotea Square but works perfectly as a standalone highlight on Queen Street. Less ornate than The Civic or St James Theatre but still full of atmosphere.

Auckland Town Hall IMG_0221

Auckland Ferry Terminal (1912)
Very nearly demolished but thankfully saved to remain a welcome sight as probably the most attractive building on the waterfront.

Ferry Building IMG_6522Ferry Building IMG_6516

University of Auckland Clock Tower (1926)
To my eye Tolkien in New Zealand before Lord of the Rings came here. A distinctive addition to the skyline from Albert Park, if somewhat less inspiring on the inside.

DSC01103 University Clock Clock Tower TowerClock Tower IMG_1409

St James Theatre (1928)
Neglected for far too long but thankfully now in the process of restoration. Can’t wait to see the results.

St James IMG_1882St James IMG_1883

Civic Theatre (1929)
One of the most beautiful theatres anywhere in the world. Originally designed as a cinema, and brilliantly suited to this during the New Zealand International Film Festival every July / August. Also home to theatre, musicals, gigs, and comedy shows. The free behind the scenes tours during the Auckland Heritage Festival in September / October each year are highly recommended, and very popular, book ahead.

Civic Theatre DSC_0222 Civic TheatreCivic Theatre IMG_2031Civic Theatre IMG_1909

Civic Theatre


Auckland War Memorial Museum (1929)
Built in two halves (the rear half in 1960), this is probably the most impressive piece of neoclassical architecture in New Zealand, and an iconic sight in The Domain, particularly when lit at night.

DSC_0495Auckland War Memorial MuseumDSC_0533Auckland War Memorial Museum DSC_0515Auckland War Memorial Museum DSC_0539

Musick Memorial Radio Station (1942)
Striking building in the ‘Moderne’ style, in a beautiful setting looking out across the Hauraki Gulf.

Musick Point Radio Station

Musick Point IMG_3205Musick Point IMG_3206

McCahon House (1950s)
A little gem, surrounded by deep Titirangi bush, full of character and interest, reflecting it’s owner, the famous New Zealand artist Colin McCahon.

McCahon House DSC04264 McCahon HouseMcCahon HouseDSC04268McCahon HouseDSC04277

Civic Building (1966)
Auckland Council’s main home until the recent move into the former ASB Building. Very much divides opinion, generally against, but the building has its strong supporters, including myself.

Civic Building DSC_0223 Civic CentreCivic IMG_1747

West Plaza Building (1972)
Wouldn’t look out of place in Las Vegas, a striking slice of 70s style on Albert Street.

West Plaza Building DSC_0246West Plaza Building DSC_0248

Sky Tower (1997)
Late 20th century but hard to ignore as the most recognisable part of Auckland’s built skyline, competing with Mt Eden and Rangitoto. A great visual anchor for the city, whether navigating or photographing.

Skytower DSC_0226 Sky Tower

Author: jontycrane

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