School of Engineering
1957 - 1961, Ministry of Works, $1,316,646
1963 - 1969, Ministry of Works
Stage 1 Chemical - $55,174
Stage 2 Mechanical - $108,398
Stage 3 Civil & Electrical - $246,152
Stage 4 Lecture Theatres - $193,124
Stage 5 Chemical Main Extension - $328,481
Stage 6 Lecture Theatres & Library - $339,904
The School of Engineering was the second area of the University to relocate to the new site at Ilam. While building work continued, the School was sufficiently completed to be used for lecturing space by February 1960. The official opening took place in October 1961 and was the first new building for the University for over a quarter of a century. A large amount of building and developing carried on in the Engineering area right through the 1960s. A chronology of the building works in Engineering from 1890 - 1985 can be viewed here.
This view of the construction site shows the large barren area which was to become the School of Engineering and soon after to develop into the full University of Canterbury.
Canterbury Site 1958 and 1968 from the same angle
During the mid-1900s the decisions related to building both within Christchurch and on a national scale were made with limited information. There was in particular a persistent underestimation of population growth and in turn of student growth. The school was originally designed for 300 students, but by 1961 the engineering student population was already 513 and by 1967 there was 677 students. Changes during the protracted planning and construction process meant it could accommodate 450 in 1961 so was still too small and would need extensive further development to keep up with growth.
View from both sides of the iconic 'Mushroom' building
At the end of 1962 the Government approved national funding for university building programmes. Included within this was funding for the Engineering School extensions. The extensions totaling 48,967 square feet and costing $1,390,200 were completed by five different contractors between 1964 - 1967.
While the engineers found it difficult to express aesthetic appreciation of the new buildings they were functionally satisfactory. The spacious concourse was quickly appropriated for several major University receptions and the courtyard garden became a favoured lunchtime spot.
In 1967 building went ahead on the new Chemical Engineering block and the Engineering library. These rare colour photos of the time show the level of construction occurring.
When it was completed in 1967 the Engineering library set a new standard for NZ tertiary libraries. There was space for 30,000 books, 200 individual desks, some small study rooms and a seminar room. Exhibitions of painting and sculpture added to its refined atmosphere.The library had the University's first photocopier, microfiche retrieval system, microfiche copying service and the first electronic book detection system.
A view of the new Chemical Engineering building, and the outlook from it over the rest of the University