Queens Arcade - Auckland New Zealand
Queens Arcade was originally constructed as three separate buildings with two main street frontages. The “south arcade” to Queen Street was ‘adapted’ from two separate Victorian buildings (Darby’s Buildings built 1909 and A.B Donald building (southernmost building) was erected in 1863. They had a brick-separating wall.)
The Queens Arcade building at 34 – 40 Queen Street was built by Fletcher Construction Ltd to the design of architects Bloomfield & Hunt and completed in 1929.
“William Swanson Read Bloomfield (1865-1869), the architect of Titirangi’s Lopdell House is one of the most interesting figures in New Zealand Architecture. Probably the first qualified architect of Maori descent, he was among the first New Zealanders to enrol in an architectural career at an American University. He had a strong passion for aviation and survived being captured and imprisoned as a fighter pilot during WW 1”
Completion of the five level office building at the Customs Street-frontage completed the present link through the arcade in the same year.
The New Zealand Building Record edition of July 21st 1928 described the planned facade to Queen Street as “symbolic of the Georgian period.” Design details were said to include “a first level promenade with ornamental bronze ballustrading and the latest in artistic finishes.” “White marble facades will be relieved at regular intervals with crested pillars.”
In November 1929 the amalgamation of the Queen Street and Customs Street facing properties and the removal of the boundary walls at ground and first floor level created the “L shaped” arcade linking both Queen and Customs Street. The New Zealand Building Record edition of Friday 22 November 1929 reported the completion of the project and noted the “beautifully polished shop fronts of Whangarei marble, use of fine woods and tastefully set out displays by the tenants of the shops give the whole arcade a very distinctive tone and smart appearance.”
The new development was constructed for Davis Properties Ltd who continues in ownership to the present day. During the early years the upper floors of Queens Arcade housed a number of well-known businesses. Iconic whiteware manufacturer Fisher and Paykel commenced business from offices and showroom in the Arcade in 1934, The United Services Officers Club was also a tenant at that time. In the early 1960’s high profile Merchant banker Securitibank, later to become notorious for its well-publicised collapse had its head office in the arcade office building a few floors above.
In 1980 Queens Arcade was closed for alteration, reconstruction and refurbishment under the supervision of Swan Railley Paterson Architects. The office levels were removed from the 34 – 40 Queen Street building, which was reduced to its present two levels and the glazed atrium now a feature of the arcade was introduced.
The refurbishment project completed in 1981, the Arcade was officially reopened for business by then Auckland Mayor Colin Kay on 10 December 1981 in the form in which it is recognisable today. In October-November 2013 the arcade was extensively refurbished. The coffered ceilings in this part of the arcade and the Whangarei Marble columns throughout the ground floor are features of the original Arcade design would have been familiar to shoppers of the 1930’s.
1929 – 34/40 Queen St (5 level office tower) and 17/21 Customs St (5 level office tower) were built
1980/81 - The office levels were removed from the 34 – 40 Queen Street building, which was reduced to its present two levels and the glazed atrium, now a feature of the arcade, was introduced.