Union Square gains recognition with Commercial Architecture Award

NZIA 2023

Rabobank Tower, the first building to be completed in Foster’s Union Square CBD development in Hamilton, was awarded a commercial architecture award by the New Zealand Institute of Architects earlier this month.

Rhys Harvey, director of Fosters’ develop team, said the award endorses the construction company’s decision to design and build an architecturally stimulating commercial building. And their choice of Chow:Hill as the architects.

“Honouring our commitment to ‘support local’, we purposefully chose Chow:Hill as the architects on this project. As Hamiltonians, we felt they would easily identify with what we wanted to accomplish.

“When we started, we didn’t have a specific design in mind – we simply knew that the philosophy behind the precinct was for Hamilton business people to be able to ‘experience better’.

“To attract quality brands, we wanted to create a highly efficient building with flexible floor plates, premium office spaces and easy access to amenities for the tenants.

“We also knew that we wanted to stay away from the typical ‘glass box’ commercial building and to be able to differentiate the buildings, both within Union Square and within Hamilton’s CBD. The outcome was to be something we could be proud of for the next 50+ years.

“In essence, the design had to be aspirational.”

Chow:Hill took all this on board. The design for the Union Square precinct shows individual buildings with unique material palettes. Although common threads (like sustainability and efficiency) run through the buildings, the architecture of each one is different. Once complete, Union Square will feel like it’s part of the city but also have a community feel.

With Rabobank Tower being the first completed building, it was important to Fosters that it had a sense of entry – that people would experience a relaxed, open and welcoming corporate environment.

The result, according to the NZIA judges is “a five-storey office building that boasts a construction-efficient and seismic steel frame, a prefabricated curtain wall façade and fluted concave precast concreate panels that provide construction speed and durability.

“The building’s lobby serves as an important pedestrian link to the future precinct and has a café and quality seating areas… Rabobank Tower is an example of a collaborative process and a precursor to the reset of Hamilton’s CBD.”

With an award for commercial architecture and the building occupied by three significant brands – Rabobank, AA Insurance and Craigs Investment Partners – Fosters vision for Union Square (and its role in resetting the south-end of the CBD) is moving in the right direction.

“This award celebrates a fitting partnership between Fosters and Chow:Hill in delivering an aspirational design and an important commercial centre for Hamilton’s CBD” said Rhys. “The future of this precinct is exciting, and we can’t wait to deliver more.”

Building E, ‘The Business Centre’ of the Union Square precinct, is on track for completion later this year.