Various studies were done to see how best to connect the building to adjacent public spaces such as the courtyard between it and the ASB head office to the side. But that created challenges.
"One aspect of acoustics is the reverberation inside the theatre, but a building like this has to be sound-attenuated so you don't hear anything from outside during a performance. This was just too difficult to do with the building open to a courtyard."
The breakthrough came from Brian Hall, with his suggestion to move the theatre up to level 1.
"This not only allowed us to open the building up, but also meant we could accommodate the dressing rooms, scene dock, green room, wardrobe, laundry and trap room for the stage at ground level, underneath the theatre."
"Immediately we'd had that discussion, I realised we could distribute the balance of the ground floor to creating exciting public spaces that flow around the theatre something we were very keen to do."
These comprise front-of-house facilities, a cafe on the street front and the bar and foyer to the side, all contained in a four-storey glass atrium that surrounds the theatre.
The curved back of the theatre extends into the atrium to create a strong sculptural element on levels one, two and three. Adorned with a 10,000 LED kinetic artwork running 29m long and 9m high, this now acts as a beacon for the theatre, both within the Wynyard Quarter and from the city side of the Viaduct Basin.
The lightwork is one of a series of major New Zealand artworks in the public spaces, including a six-metre high Maori pou located in the courtyard.