The Hotel Britomart is the latest project in a decade-long partnership between Bracewell Construction and the team behind Britomart, transforming a deserted port district into the vibrant downtown heart of Auckland.
Over more than a decade, Kerry has worked on the construction and refurbishment of a number of buildings in the precinct – the Stanbeth and Excelsior Buildings on Gore and Galway Sts, the Seafarers Building facing the harbour, and the Pavilions complex.
Bracewell – owned by Kerry’s brother Glenn – has been the key building partner for Britomart as the precinct has developed. “It’s great – it’s like a big family with the relationships here,” he says.
Now working simultaneously on the new build of the 10-storey Hotel Britomart and the linked restoration of the Buckland and Masonic Buildings next door, Kerry says that despite his experience in the area, every new project brings something new to learn.
On The Hotel Britomart, it’s been the higher standards for waste management demanded by the hotel’s 5 Green Star sustainability rating, and the challenge of working at a taller scale than they ever have before. On the Buckland and Masonic Buildings, it’s been the delicacy of restoring century-old timber beams that in places were only kept together by “borer holding hands”, he jokes.
As a working foreman, Kerry is on the tools daily alongside the team of 40 builders from Bracewell and a variety of subcontractors. "We’re right on the money time-wise, which is pretty amazing, because the timeline was planned 18 months ago and it’s running pretty much to the day.”
That’s in spite of encountering a few surprises, including piles of buried railway sleepers, hundreds of broken bottles and oily seepage when excavating for foundations. “People just used to throw things in as landfill,” he shrugs. “They weren’t thinking about what was going to happen in 100 years’ time.”
Bracewell and the management team behind the patient 15-year renewal of the Britomart precinct are taking the opposite approach. The Hotel Britomart has been built to endure, with the foundational cleanup transforming even the ground beneath it. “This one is going to last for a long time,” says Kerry.
Despite the long hours on the job, Kerry says Britomart is his favourite place to come on his days off. “What they’ve done here is fantastic. Back in the day when it was a bus terminal, it was really seedy. I used to have a few drinks occasionally at the former Kiwi Tavern but in places, it was pretty dodgy. So how it’s been transformed is incredible.” As he walks around the precinct, he says he feels a real sense of pride to think, ‘We built that’. “I love the area. Even though I work here, I never get bored with the place.”