The Patterson Associates-designed Len Lye Centre in New Plymouth, New Zealand has been given a financial boost by numerous funding agents, pushing it closer to the final target of $10m. Following $1m from the TSB Community Trust and a further $4m donated in June by the Government’s Regional Museums Policy for Capital Construction Costs (the last grant before the remainder of the available money is given to aid the rebuilding of Christchurch) comes news that the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board’s Environment and Heritage Committee has pledged an additional $500,000 to the construction of the new centre. If fundraising continues at this pace, building work will start onsite by October 2012 with completion due for late 2014.
Patterson’s shimmering design is a direct response to the work of New Zealander Len Lye, a world-renowned filmmaker, photographer, artist and poet, whose works are now on display in some of the world’s most prestigious galleries, including the Whitney Museum of American Art and the Art Institute of Chicago. During his life, Lye developed a close working relationship with local engineer John Matthews who is now the Chairman of the Len Lye Foundation (an organisation which protects and displays the work of this legendary artist in partnership with the Govett-Brewster Art Gallery).
The facade of the new Len Lye Centre appears as if twisted ribbons of solid steel have been draped vertically across exterior, reminiscent of several of the artist’s works. Tinted light will flood the interior volume through this facade, despite its solid outward appearance. The Mayor of New Plymouth, Harry Duynhoven was keen to stress the positive effects of the build on the local economy: “In the short term, jobs will be generated through the construction process and the use of local materials, stainless steel and concrete. In the long term, research from independent business and economic assessment company BERL has indicated that once the centre opens, visitor numbers to the region will increase with a major flow-on benefit to the district’s economy with additional spending and more jobs in the hospitality sector.”