RLB in Auckland celebrates 50 years of achievement

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How can half a century change the shape of a community, city, or, indeed, a nation?

In 2022, Rider Levett Bucknall (RLB) in Auckland celebrates 50 years of quality service, professionalism and achievement. To reflect on their contributions over many years, we asked some of RLB’s leaders in Auckland for their favourite projects and memories.

RLB’s 50-year story starts in 1972, when what was then known as Rider Hunt partnered to establish a presence in Auckland. New Zealand practices in Wellington, Christchurch, Palmerston North and Otago followed.

The 50-year logo that commemorates half a century of city-shaping is inspired by one of RLB’s early commercial projects: Sky Tower. Standing tall at 328 metres, Sky Tower has been an iconic feature of Auckland’s skyline for more than two decades and was one of the many projects that RLB helped take from the drawing board to delivery.

Completed in 1997, “Sky Tower is the tallest freestanding structure in the southern hemisphere,” says RLB Director Richard Anderson. “It took two years and nine months to construct, but was delivered on time and on budget. I am immensely proud of my involvement on this landmark project and of RLB’s role in bringing imagination to life.”

Another landmark is Precinct Properties’ 97,500 sqm PwC Tower – winner of the prestigious Rider Levett Bucknall Supreme Award in 2021. New Zealand’s tallest building, PwC Tower is also the centrepiece of the nation’s most visionary urban generation project.

“Urban regeneration can be challenging when construction is underway,” says RLB Managing Director Stephen Gracey. “But the success story of PwC Tower demonstrates how urban regeneration – when delivered with steadfast vision and commitment – achieves outstanding outcomes for generations.”

RLB has contributed to countless milestone commercial projects over 50 years: the Geyser Building, Fonterra Centre, Commercial Bay, ASB North Wharf, Wynyard Quarter Innovation Precinct, ANZ Centre and 85 Fort Street among them.

Recently retired as a Director, Bob Buskin continues to consult, amassing a remarkable 50 years  with RLB. Bob Buskin names 85 Fort Street among his highlight projects. “It is an exceptional restoration project, integrating an early 1900s warehouse and a classic 1960s office tower. The outcome is a modern, functional and highly sought-after commercial offering that preserves Auckland’s history.”

Auckland Director Richard Anderson reflects on the Spark Data Centre. “Built to high global standards set by the Telecommunications Industry Association, the project paved the way for other data centres around the world and is helping to drive New Zealand’s digital transformation.”

For Director Chris Haines, who joined RLB in New Zealand in 2007, projects that balance sustainable practices with commercial outcomes are among his most memorable. Chris provided commercial certainty on the recently-completed Foodstuffs North Island Distribution Centre, which he says “illustrates how big, bold architecture, practical and productive workspace and sustainability go hand-in-hand”.

RLB’s work on social infrastructure projects have also helped to build New Zealand’s reputation as a powerhouse of education, research and innovation. Take the new research and distribution facility built for Fisher & Paykel Healthcare. The 53,000 sqm of manufacturing, workplace, research and distribution space “is an investment that will enable Fisher & Paykel to continue to develop and deliver world-leading healthcare solutions” notes Director Hamish Dackers.

For Director Ed Cook, who heads up RLB’s successful and growing infrastructure team, collaborating to realise the benefits of the super-sized wastewater tunnel known as the Central Interceptor is particularly rewarding. “We want everyone to be able to enjoy clean waterways and open spaces, so we’re proud to be part of the team delivering this $1.2 billion wastewater tunnel across central Auckland.”

RLB’s impact on the built environment isn’t all bricks and mortar. A 50-year commitment to collaboration with government and industry bodies has forged enduring partnerships, like that with the Property Council New Zealand. For the last 25 years, RLB has partnered to celebrate excellence in design and innovation in the built environment through the Property Council’s prestigious Property Industry Awards.

Geoff Speck, who joined RLB in 2003, is proud of another partnership. “RLB has partnered with the New Zealand Institute of Economic Research to publish an astounding 100 editions of the RLB Forecast Report detailing New Zealand trends in property and construction,” he notes.

For Stephen Gracey, “thousands of successful project outcomes embody the dynamic and ambitious spirit that has been with our team since the day we opened our doors for the first time”.

“RLB takes great pride in its involvement in many of the buildings that shape the Auckland skyline. While exciting technological innovations and the emergence of new sectors have changed the way we work and at times shifted our focus to different challenges, our people have continued to lead by example to shape the future of our industry in everything that they do.

“We are enormously grateful to all of our clients, people and supporters who are helping us realise our vision, and we are immensely excited at the possibilities of the future. We will always look to bring great imagination to life and to innovate. I have no doubt that our biggest impact is yet to come.

“On behalf of all of us at RLB in Auckland past, present and future, thank you.”