Building the gateway to the Pacific

Auckland International Airport Limited selected Dalman Architects as Lead Consultant for the design of a contemporary 146-room hotel in the former Qantas headquarters building in Leonard Isitt drive. Dalman Architects won the project over three other architects who submitted credentials to AIAL and began design work in January 2018.

Richard Dalman, managing director of Dalman Architects, has more than 20 years’ experience in the design of hotels. “We are delighted to be working with AIAL as lead consultants on the project,” said Dalman.

“The new hotel will offer business and leisure travellers an attractive accommodation option with the convenience of being at the airport.”

Richard Dalman.

The new hotel’s star rating will sit between the existing Ibis and Novotel, adding to the suite of hotels at the airport which are very much in demand amongst travellers. Today Auckland Airport sees 21 million passengers every year pass through its doors and with growth expected to reach 40 million by 2040, well-placed infrastructure is essential.

The existing two and a half storey office building will be stripped back to the structure and only the steel columns and beams and concrete floors will remain. An additional storey will be added to the top of the building and it will be extended at both ends. Everything else in the building is new, including the cladding, roof, internal walls and interior fitout.

The current office building is a quarter circle in plan and the curved geometry presented a challenge to the design team. Dalman Architects embraced the challenge and designed an impressive façade which emphasises the curves. The cladding is made up of folded bronze anodised aluminium panels.

“The design of the cladding draws on Pasifika design motifs which reflect the significance of Auckland Airport as the gateway to the South Pacific. The geometry of the cladding will create an intricate triangular pattern of light and shadow across the façade which will constantly change as the sun moves across the sky” said Dalman. The triangular motif is also incorporated into the custom designed folded steel canopy which shelters the entry to the hotel.


Richard believes the Pasifika theme will be unique in the Auckland hotel market. “The Pasifika inspiration is fully integrated from the exterior of the building all the way through to the interior design undertaken by Space Studio.

“The total design will provide guests with an authentic and meaningful experience.”

The new hotel sits within ‘The Quad’, Auckland Airport’s business precinct, which includes office buildings, food and beverage outlets and retail. The existing landscape courtyard at the front of the building is being refurbished to provide an open communal space within the precinct. The vehicle entrance to the hotel is off Leonard Isitt Drive and there is car parking for guests behind the building.

Dalman Architects were also the BIM Managers on the hotel project. BIM, or Building Information Modelling, is a collaborative process involving the whole consultant team including Structural Engineers, Services Engineers, and Interior Designers. Each consultant produces a three-dimensional digital model of the building and the BIM Manager combines the models together to assist with coordinating all the building elements. Specialist software can be used to analyse the models and identify clashes early in the design process, so they can be resolved before construction begins. For this project, Dalman Architects combined models from nine different consultants and managed the BIM coordination process from early concept design through to construction.

“Hotels are very complex buildings with very specific requirements,” said Dalman. “BIM assists us with planning the many small details that make the building function well. We are essentially constructing the building in a digital format, to highlight and resolve any issues before the contractor even starts on site.”

Richard said he had very much enjoyed working with Auckland Airport and the consultant team to design the new hotel.

“It has been a very smooth process with great input from all involved.

“We have no doubt that this will the best hotel of its kind in Auckland when it is completed in 2020.”

Construction of the hotel is due to start in June.

For more information call Richard Dalman on 03 066 5445 or email