AUT Sir Paul Reeves Building

One of the most awarded educational buildings in Aotearoa, AUT's Sir Paul Reeves Building represents a step change in the design of tertiary education environments. It is designed to maximise the impact and depth of student learning experiences.



Project Details

Client AUT
Sector Education
Location Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland
Discipline Architecture, Interior Design, Urban Design
Status Completed 2013

Bringing the outside inside

At the heart of the Sir Paul Reeves building is a covered atrium connecting lecture theatres, event and circulation spaces with amenities such as the Newsfeed Café and a variety of collaborative social learning spaces. A key characteristic of the atrium is the sensation of being outdoors, without exposure to the inclement weather Auckland so often experiences. 

The 1100m² atrium is the primary volume through which all elements of an extended learning precinct connect. The decision to enclose it with a glass roof was a game-changer for AUT. As a result, the building benefits from the versatility of a split level, daylit forum which can be used day and night, year-round. The atrium space negotiates changes of level via generous stairways. It is also crossed by ramped bridges connecting activites in new and existing buildings, creating a well-connected educational landscape.

A vast green wall and LED screen in the heart of the atrium also connect occupants with AUT stories and nature on a daily basis.


Connecting with the student experience

AUT research has proven the more time students physically spend on Campus, the better their academic performance. 

As a result, ample spaces for students to study before, after and between lectures and tutorials are given high priority. These typically extend off primary  circulation routes, making them highly accessible. In the Sir Paul Reeves building, they are individualised in form, volume, aspect, materiality, orientation and character with space names like 'The Treehouse' meaning students can easily find one another. Several also have picturesque views out over the city.

Collaborative social learning spaces are typically characterised by generous access to natural light and views. 

“Our research for the building was really comprehensive and multidisciplinary – we have been taking a look at the intersection between space, technology and pedagogy for several years, with the research embracing architecture, learning theory, student-focused needs analysis, technology-mediated learning and different learning and teaching delivery models.” Desna Jury, then Pro Vice-Chancellor and Dean of the Faculty of Design and Creative Industries.

A considered urban response

A key driver of this project was to generate strong physical connections across the campus to connect the campus and the city. The site slopes up steeply, enabling ground level entry to the lowest four levels of the building when approached from different directions. The scheme also links four existing buildings via the atrium.

The landscape design for this project included the creation of Hikuwai Plaza to the north and Governor Fitzroy Plaza to the south. Governor Fitzroy Plaza created a generous gateway into the AUT City Campus from Auckland City’s cultural quarter. It has transformed a steep and uninviting street into a sunny, terraced destination for meeting with friends, or watching the world go by.

At street levels, the building’s transparent facade acts as a 'shopfront' engaging the public and emphasising the sculptural forms and activity within. 

The building has been a significant attractor to the University for events. Public use of AUT facilities enhances AUT’s status and attracts a commercial revenue stream. In the year since the building opened, revenue from commercial use of university space increased by over 200%. The quality, flexibility and attractiveness of AUT Sir Paul Reeves spaces ensure it will continue to be highly utilised for many years to come. 



2014 PCNZ Awards - Education - Excellence
2014 PCNZ Awards - Arts - Excellence
2014 NZIA National Awards - Education and Planning and Urban Design
2014 NZIA National Awards - Planning
2014 NZIA National Awards - Urban Design
2014 NZ Commercial Project Awards - Education - National Category Winner
2014 NZ Commercial Project Awards - Education - Silver
2013 NZIA Local Awards – Education
2013 NZIA Local Awards - Interiors
2013 Interior Awards – Civic & Education Category – Winner
2013 Best Awards – Purple Pin – Spatial Design
2013 Best Awards – Civic & Education – Gold
2013 Best Awards – Built Environment – Gold
2013 Best Awards - Furniture - Bronze