TOWN HALL BUILDING.
When the proposal was mooted a few years ago that the ratepayers of Tauranga should be approached with a view to giving authority to the Borough Council to raise a loan for the construction of a town hall and municipal buildings a controversy centred round the question of site. One section of the community favoured the old pound site on Cameron Road, while others advocated that the building should be located on the Borough endowment opposite the Bank of Australasia. Eventually the Borough Counc'l submitted to the ratepayers a proposal to borrow £7,500 for the building and also left the question of site to the majority of the voters. The results of the polls were authority to raise the money and a declaration for the site at the corner of Willow and Wharf Streets. Competitive designs were invited for the building, and, out of about twenty submitted, the design of Mr Conrad J. Kirk was awarded first place. Th 3 Council wia successful in raising the money and afterwards tendrra tor the construction were called, the contract -being secured by Messrs Ashton and Crump. The building as executed follows the prize winning design, and is in the renaissance style. The structure, which is of two storeys, stands out as a piece of interesting and modern construction. Although no great depth of shadow can be obtained in concrete construction, in this instance the treatment adopted by the architect has been very effective in eliminating what is one of the disadvantages in using concrete from an aesthetic point of view.
The elevation fronting Wha/f Street has a very imposing appearance, and although some may be of ihe opinion that this elevation shuuld have fronted Willow Street, still the adoption of the latter scheme wculd have meant the utilization of practically the who'e of the valuable frontage of the endowment aloig Willow Street, which in the near future may be looked to as the main trafficable route of the town. The main entrance to the hall is clearly marked on the Wharf Street elevation, and is approached by a flight of steps, a deep recess having been ,formed and the entablature carried across supported on columns, with enriched caps. On either side of the two central columns ?re the pay boxes, occupying part of the entrance recess, while above is a spacious balcony fronted with wrought iron balustrade of a rather pleasing design. Seen with the staircase landing illuminated, this balcuny,'backed by the leaded light work of stained filasg, looks particularly rine, and with the massive sliding doors tnrown open, exposing to view the lower part of the flight of stairs, leading to the gallery, gives one the impresuion of invitation. Balancing the entrance recess are tha projections containing the cloak rooms on one side snd the offices on the other. >n array of leaded light work, with two large exit doors, define the auditorium. Over these doors are incised panels, with enriched featoons and shields. The Willow Street facade follows the treatment of the Wharf Street elevation. In the centre is the entrance to the Municipal part of ths building, with a balcony above railed off between the columns. The exterior finish throughout is cement plaster, lined out to represent ashlar work.
The spacious auditorium is the main feature of the interior, and now has seating accommodation for 600 people, but is capable of being increased to 850, which snould meet the requirements of Tauranga for a considerable time to come. The walls are treated with pilasters, terminating with caps having a plain moulded aba- j cus supported with enriched akanthos leaves. Above these extends a large cove cornice, with piercings, each surrounded with a laurel wreath design, at regular intervals, for ventilation. The progeenium opening is a particularly fine example of fibrous plaster work and forms a very rich feature of the interior scheme of decoration. Lighting is effected by seven 3tained glass windows, enhancing the beauty of the interior to a very considerable degree. Above the floor of the auditorium and extending over a considerable part ia the dress circle, rising in tiers, and having a moulded front. This balcony is carried by a huge reinforced concrete beam,' supported from the two flank walls, and is independent of intermediate support. The rear portion of the auditorium forms a semi-circle, and was designed by the architect with the object of attaining the highest acoustic properties within the building, and these are certainly excellent. For the same purpose the ceiling has been kept as flat, as possible, being only broken by low moulded ribs, forming at the centre a large oval, ornamented with fibrous plaster work of leaf and ribbon design. Contained within this oval are four large ventilators, connected with air pumps on the roof. The air inlets are in the form of hoppers contained in the windows and doors, while beaten bronza hoppers are inserted in the walls at intervals. Prom beneath the gallery the vitiated air is drawn off through air ducts carried up through the walls into the tower. The proscenium, though not very extensive, should be ample for the requirements of the class of entertainment the building has been designed to cater for. The scenery is now being painted by Messrs Mack ay and Co., and when completed should be a serviceable set, capable of wide utility. The floor of the projcenium extends into the auditorium and is flanked on either side by a flight of steps. At the main entrance cloak rooms (with lavatories) for patrons have been provided, j two being on the ground floor and two on the gallery floor. Two dressing rooms, with lavatories, have also been provided for the stage, while below the proscenium floor is space that may be utilised shculd extra dressing rooms be required. This large basement will be particularly useful for the storage of chaira and surplus equipment. From the auditorium entrance is provided to a commodious supper room, connected with which is a well equipped kitchen, containing, among other things, appliances for heating water. In case of any extraordinary occurrence three auxiliary