Welcome back to the ’70s: CBRE’s new curvy-styled HQs celebrate arches, orange leather

Arches are back, along with orange leather bench seats, dizzy carpet designs and enough design swerves to make a carpenter wince.

These ’70s-style features greet visitors arriving at a real estate agency’s new Auckland offices on level 37 of a CBD tower.

“Yes, it’s very curvy,” admits Andrew Stringer, CBRE New Zealand senior managing director, from the 39-level ANZ Centre, in Albert St.

He has just slid quietly onto one of those leather benches between the arches under ceiling lights set into circular cutouts, offset by carpets with an eye-catching V-pattern and natural timber tabletops.

“We wanted to be a magnet for people to come into the office,” Stringer explains, adding that staff were given the best possie for their desks, on the attractive northeastern side with waterfront views.

Alaska Construction Interiors did the building work. Jesse James Smith of Stack Interiors did the design and CBRE did the workplace strategy and change management “because it’s one of our core skill sets”, Stinger adds.

Stack’s Smith discourages any ’70s analogy with his work in the reception area.

“I wouldn’t really call it that. I guess what you might be looking for is more Palm Springs. That’s where some of the inspiration for that comes from. It’s contemporary. We’re just out to create a bit more intimacy but an informal, open and relaxed space.”

The makeover’s challenges included moving staff from two floors of the tower to one and creating many breakout and meeting rooms while still giving an air of spaciousness.

Reception overlooks Albert St. Stringer says many firms might have used their best northeast positions for client meetings or to show off to visitors. But it’s the staff he wants to impress and encourage to come into the office – as well as keep.

“There were 18 new faces here when I arrived Monday,” he says.

About 110 staff started in the new office on Monday, having left levels 14 and 15 of the tower.

The 1000sq m level 37 is one of many floors once leased to law firm Chapman Tripp, now a block away on level 34 of the new $1 billion PwC Tower at Commercial Bay.

Is it a cop-out for an agency like CBRE – charged by the owners to lease the ANZ Centre – to take some of the best space?

Or even cheating, to be so high up with such astonishing views?

It’s certainly not cheap. Commercial floorspace at these sorts of heights can command around $700/sq m, although Stringer isn’t giving out any financial information or what the agency is paying in rent. Nor is he saying what it spent on the fitout, thought to be well north of $1m.

CBRE being in the same building as ANZ isn’t any coincidence: “ANZ take the major amount of floors in this building. We’ve got a team of about 30 who manage the ANZ property portfolio and that’s our largest client, so being near them – it’s part of our team,” Stringer explains.

The tower made news late last year when it was revealed as New Zealand’s largest commercial sale.

The $177m sale of half the tower by Precinct Properties NZ to the Singaporean Government’s Reco Augustine Private topped the list of the highest 15 commercial, retail and industrial sales for 2021. In 2018, the United States business Invesco got consent to buy half the tower, so an equal and undivided half share of the block is now owned by the US and Singaporean businesses.

Stringer said CBRE’s moving process started around mid-2019 but the pandemic delayed and changed things.

The entire floor was stripped of fittings and air conditioning. Now, meeting rooms are named Maungawhau, Rangitoto, Maungakiekie, Tititea, Ngauruhoe and Tarawera and a large boardroom is split most of the time in two.

“We’ve gone from four photocopiers down to one.”

Stringer says not all the work is finished but generally he is delighted with the outcome and so is the staff.

And with that, it’s out the door and an ear-popping lift ride back down onto Albert St.

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