Restoring the earthquake-damaged Christchurch Town Hall to its former glory is like keeping the city's living room, according to Sir Miles Warren.
The leading New Zealand architect, and co-designer of the town hall, said the city council's decision to repair the building was "marvellous."
He told The Star yesterday: "It isn't just a music venue... it really is the city's living room where we all can gather for special occasions."
The city council voted unanimously yesterday to spend an estimated $127.5 million on repairing the complex.
A $68.9 million insurance payout will help offset the cost, which will be spread out over four years.
Sir Miles was not always confident the building which he designed with Maurice Mahoney in 1965 would be retained.
"At one stage it was looking like they would only keep the main auditorium of the town hall itself and the adjacent foyer. But fortunately the council was persuaded to keep it all."
City council staff had recommended saving only the auditorium and rebuilding a new entrance and gathering space.
Heritage consultants, architects and acoustics specialists were involved in a review which looked at the merits of this option.
But the city council's community, recreation and culture committee rejected that idea at the end of last month, voting unanimously to recommend the city council completely repair the existing facility.
This option had been agreed to in the draft annual plan.
The committee said the overwhelming majority of people who made submissions to the plan were in favour of retaining the complex as a whole.
Sir Miles described the experience of designing the building as "a marvellous collaboration" with Mr Mahoney and Sir Howard Marshall who designed the town hall's acoustics.
"Great buildings don't come about through any one individual," he said.
Sir Miles said he and Mr Mahoney won an architecture competition to design the town hall when they were "just at the stage where we could handle a project of that size."
It was officially opened in 1972.
If the city council had only kept the original auditorium, Sir Miles said the architectural value of the town hall would have been highly diminished.
"You would be left with a world class auditorium standing alone. The town hall was designed with the auditorium, the James Hay, the foyers in between, the Limes Room and other spaces, all that together."
Heritage consultant Jenny May, of Heritage Management Services, agreed.
In a report presented to city council she said the town hall was "the most significant, internationally recognised civic building in New Zealand".
It is registered as a Category 1 historic place and is a Group 1 heritage building under the city council's City Plan.
Ms May said this reflects the significance of the historical, cultural, and architectural qualities of the town hall to Christchurch.
She said losing any major design element of the building would reduce the significance of the whole complex.
A report from Warren and Mahoney architects said the earthquakes caused serious damage to the ground floor and foundations of the town hall which will require land remediation and full replacement of the ground floor including the basement.
The report also said the Limes Room has lifted up towards the river and separated from the rest of the complex.