Otago Daily Times

Hall takes Rock­etWerkz to new level

- ANNE GIB­SON New Zealand · Warcraft · Bear Grylls

TECHNO punk mu­sic blasts into the all­black void — an un­set­tling space at the top of the new $1 bil­lion PwC Tower.

Strips of green neon LED tubes zig­zag across the floor, walls and ceil­ing of ‘‘outer space’’, and step­ping in here is al­most as un­nerv­ing as rid­ing New Zealand’s fastest lift (8m trav­elled per sec­ond).

Smoky black glass doors part qui­etly in the cen­tre to al­low en­try to a curved cream ‘‘air­lock’’, redo­lent of 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The ‘‘air­lock’’ opens into a much brighter un­manned re­cep­tion space sta­tion, with a 3m x 1m screen show­ing hi­tech game scenes made by the busi­ness whose of­fices you have just en­tered.

A ‘‘town hall’’, or meet­ing space fol­lows and it is into the full ‘‘space sta­tion’’. Only then does the view emerge — east to the Cus­toms St tow­ers, Brit­o­mart and the wa­ter­front.

Wel­come to the new

$5 mil­lion state­of­the­art de­signer fit­out by Unis­pace for video gam­ing busi­ness Rock­etWerkz, which on Mon­day shifted from Al­bert St’s West Plaza to lev­els 38 and 39 of the Com­mer­cial Bay tower.

‘‘It’s like a space sta­tion,’’ ex­plains Prada shirt­wear­ing chief ex­ec­u­tive Dean Hall of the theme.

‘‘We’re not like lawyers or ac­coun­tants, so the space had to be de­signed for us. Go­ing to other lob­bies in this build­ing — theirs sucked com­pared to ours.’’

He leads on to­wards level 38’s north­ern view, and it is only then the shock­ing screens emerge: grey, metal, about 1.8m high, run­ning a few me­tres back from al­most the en­tire length of the floor­to­ceil­ing glass win­dows, largely oblit­er­at­ing New Zealand’s new­est and most spec­tac­u­lar of­fice view from staff work­sta­tions.

‘‘We call this the gallery,’’ Mr Hall says, show­ing the cor­ri­dorstyle area be­tween the staff hub and those spec­tac­u­lar win­dows. Couches will be placed in that gallery for view­hogs.

Then he ad­dresses the ele­phant in the room.

‘‘I know it seems weird putting screens in but if you look at other floors in this build­ing, ten­ants have their blinds pulled be­cause it’s just too bright,’’ he ex­plains of the clash of light and the much darker area the video ex­perts need to do their work.

‘‘The metal screens sep­a­rate workspace from the win­dow so we don’t need to pull blinds down.

‘‘We’re try­ing to turn all the main lights out and just have LEDs and it will look quite dif­fer­ent then.’’

About 60 staff are now work­ing from that cen­tral col­lab­o­ra­tive engine­room hub: con­cept, an­i­ma­tion, art, cre­ative and pro­gram­ming spe­cial­ists, some ex­Weta Work­shop, oth­ers ex­World of War­craft, many toil­ing on the new game, Icarus (‘‘like Bear Grylls in space’’, chief op­er­at­ing of­fi­cer Stephen Knightly says).

Unis­pace worked with Mr Hall and Mr Knightly on the fitout of lev­els 38 and 39 of the wa­ter­front tower.

The com­pany has banned staff from bring­ing friends or fam­ily in yet, although an open day is planned for a se­lect few later this month. Nor can staff eat at their desks — ‘‘be­cause we have a can­teen with the best view in the word’’, Mr Knightly says.

Mr Hall says the highly

❛ It’s like a space sta­tion. We’re not like lawyers or ac­coun­tants, so the space had to be de­signed for us. Go­ing to other lob­bies in this build­ing — theirs sucked com­pared to ours Rock­etWerkz chief ex­ec­u­tive Dean Hall

se­cu­rity­con­scious busi­ness ‘‘is care­ful’’ about what staff plug into their work com­put­ers. Couri­ers de­liver tech gear and pack­ages to the tower’s mail cen­tre, not level 38.

‘‘This has to be the high­est record­ing stu­dio in New Zealand — no, Aus­trala­sia,’’ he says, show­ing off an­other fea­ture on level 38 along­side his of­fice, which looks across to the Viaduct area where he lives.

Then it’s up a two­flight set of stairs to a ‘‘se­cret floor’’ on part of level 39, where a smaller mez­za­nine­style area on the west­ern cor­ner could take more of­fices. Mr Hall pulls back cup­board doors to show off a fully fit­ted kitchen, ‘‘be­cause I don’t like eat­ing food I haven’t cooked my­self’’.

Although Covid­19 de­layed the shift by about four months, staff packed last week and were given a fully­paid hol­i­day on Fri­day — ‘‘we called it Rock­etWerkz day’’— to en­able a smooth move.

‘‘Our job is to think five years ahead,’’ Mr Hall says of the vi­sion for the of­fices and how the work trans­lates into the un­usual fit­out.

Mr Hall and Mr Knightly thanked Unis­pace lead de­signer Harry Rown­tree, Precinct Prop­er­ties as­set man­ager Peter Bow­den and Bay­leys staff for their in­volve­ment in the leas­ing, de­sign and fit­out.

But they will not say how much rent was for the ini­tial six­year term — ‘‘but it’s highly com­pet­i­tive’’, Mr Hall says of the lease, which comes with only two car park­ing spa­ces.

Mr Hall is not yet fin­ished: he wants to rip ceil­ing pan­els from the engine room hub to ex­pose ser­vices, and says once the dryclean­ers have re­turned his Prada suit, he will wear that to show changes to the new of­fices. — The New Zealand Herald

 ??  ??
 ?? PHO­TOS: MICHAEL CRAIG ?? New digs . . . Rock­etWerkz chief ex­ec­u­tive Dean Hall at The Gallery on level 38 of the PwC Tower.
PHO­TOS: MICHAEL CRAIG New digs . . . Rock­etWerkz chief ex­ec­u­tive Dean Hall at The Gallery on level 38 of the PwC Tower.
 ??  ?? Good view . . . From Rock­etwerkz, look­ing down on Quay West apart­ments.
Good view . . . From Rock­etwerkz, look­ing down on Quay West apart­ments.
 ??  ?? Shade needed . . . Screens al­most oblit­er­ate north­ern views from level 38 of the tower.
Shade needed . . . Screens al­most oblit­er­ate north­ern views from level 38 of the tower.
 ??  ?? From air­lock to space sta­tion: in­side the new Rock­etWerkz of­fices.
From air­lock to space sta­tion: in­side the new Rock­etWerkz of­fices.
 ??  ?? Hub of op­er­a­tions where around 60 staff work.
Hub of op­er­a­tions where around 60 staff work.
 ??  ?? Rock­etWerkz’s ‘‘outer space’’ area on level 38 of the new tower.
Rock­etWerkz’s ‘‘outer space’’ area on level 38 of the new tower.

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