QUEEN VICTORIA. MARKET
A PALATIAL STRUCTURE.
(BY OUR SPECIAL COMMISSIONER )
The Queen Victoria Market buildings are rapidly approaching completion, and at the outside a month ought to suffice for the finishing touches to be given to them. The structure occupies one of the most central positions in the city, and that is why probably so much criticism has been directed against it. The criticism, however, does not concern the structure as a structure, but is based upon the sordid consideration of whether the place will pay. Whatever may be the answer to this question there can be little doubt that the architect and builder have combined to produce a work which will serve as a memorial of their skill, if not for all time to come, cer- tainly for many generations. The building takes up the whole of the oblong quadrilateral which is bounded by George, Market, York, and Druitt streets. The design is in the Romanesque style of architecture, and tho building altogether imparts to the city a suggestion of the Oriental which is decidedly effective. The central feature of tho structure is the dome, the beauty of which irresistibly compels the admiration of every beholder. 'The drum of this dome has been built of freestone, and it has been executed with remarkable skill. Surmounting the dome is a lan- thorn, while encircling the dome is a gallery which enables the visitor to get an excellent idea of the magnitude of the metropolis. The cupola of the lanthorn is 192 ft above the pavement, or 212ft from the basement floor of the building, while the outer gallery is 120ft. above the level of the street. The main dome is 60ft in diameter. Grouped around it is a series of 20 smaller domes, each modelled as a hive of industry, and each set off by portals. The main dome is of copper, 11 1/2 tons of which, valued at about £1800, was used to sheath the framework. The small domes are covered with muntz metal. The building itself is about 610ft in length, and has frontages to Market and Druitt streets respectively of about 100ft. The structure will have cost upwards of £2o0,000, or, taking the value of the land as £500,000, the total value may be set down as about £750,000 In the main facade-that in George-street-there are many details which will appeal to the eye of the architect, and indeed to the eyes of all endowed with the artistic faculty, but the feature after all which has already excited the enthu- siastic admiration of many citizens is the main entrance, which is situated midway in the eastern facade. The conception is one of striking beauty, there is a main arch and three minor arches, and what is called a " wheelwindow " is introduced in such a way as to exercise a fas- cinating effect upon all who pause to look at it.
In the design huge columns of trachyte play an important part, while in the working out of the details polished pillars of the same kind of stone have been introduced in such a way as to set off to the utmost advantage the charms of the devices in coloured lights. The main entrance from York-street is in harmony with this one, and it is inevitable that much praise should be lavished by the citizens generally upon these two important features of the structure. When one passes beyond either of these entrances he realises at once that beautiful as the design is from without, there is nothing within that is not in harmony with what one has already seen. The first impression one gets is that he is inside a magnificent arcade-on arcade of such amplitude that there will never be any doubt as to it proving an attractive resort. Above are two series of galleries, surmounted by a semi-circular glass roof, so that the whole place is flooded with light. What w mild be a long and monotonous colonnade is subdivided by the interposi
tion of columns which have been introduced for the cake of helping to support the dome, while the galleries are arranged so as to afford facilities for passing from side to side at intervals. The main avenue is 32ft wide, and the pavement is composed of tiles which have been arranged in such a way as to present a diagonal design, which has an excellent effect. In this design discs of prismatic lights have been utilised with the object of brightening the appearance of the basement. If one looks, say northerly, he will find to the right and left well- designed terraces of lofty shops. On the next floor are other structures which may be utilised as ware- houses and depots for fancy goods, &c., and on the second floor are suites of rooms, many of which will probably ere long bo occupied as offices. One of these has for some time past been utilised for that purpose by the contractors Messrs Phippard
Bothers. The southern end of the structure has been designed so that it may, if desired, be utilised as a coffee palace, or, if need be, an hotel. Another part
of the structure consists of a suite of rooms
which seem to have been specially designed in anticipation of some go-ahead photographer establishing himself in the building. In the northern end of the building is to be found a chamber whose ornamentation suggests that it was intended for a music or concert hall. This chamber is 90ft in length and 32ft wide, and the space separating the floor from the ceiling measures 13ft. As the visitor passes along the uppermost gallery he, on reaching the centre of it, has his attention arrested by a square hall which is surmounted by a glass dome. So far the visitor has seen nothing whatever to justify" the name of " market " building. All around there is too much that is magnificent for one to profane the place by breathing the word " markets ". A " Temple of Commerce, ' or even on the word " Emporia " might be per- mitted but " markets " is tabooed. If one finds his curiosity to know where the " markets " are irresistible and discreetly whispers that word, he is at once bidden to descend and see for himself. The means of descending are numerous. There are not only staircases and many of them, but one has also the choice of no fewer than four eleva- tors. These descend into the basement, and arrived there one is impressed first with the idea, of magni- tude, and next with the idea that this is the part of the building specially designed for market produce, if not as the " markets ". It is said that the dedication of the original site renders it obligatory on the part of the Corporation to utilise it for the purpose of "markets". But it was found that the site was too valuable for it to be utilised solely for markets. Some would have liked to see the idea of utilising any por- tion of the building as markets altogether abandoned, but this could not be done. The difficulty was eventually solved by setting apart the basement for the receipt of produce. To create the basement a chamber had to bexcavated out of the solid rock 600ft long, 90ft wide, and 20ft deep. Thus 40, 000 cubic yards of stone had to be removed. The pavement has been con- structed of Val de Travers cement, and on the York street side there are four huge lifts, each capable of elevating a trolly load at a time, or 5 tons of pro- duce. The pavement of the basement measures
54, 000 superficial feet. The buildings were con- structed by Messrs Phippard Brothers, and the responsibilities of clerk of works devolved upon Mr W. Tough. Among the sub-contractors was Mr E. D. Bush, who carried out the roofing, and also some of the glazing.