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Staff choose café coffee in Business redevelopment

Thursday, 25 May 2017 2:42pm

Business School staff take part in "blind" coffee tastings to select coffee for the Building's to-be-constructed café.

Staff and students of the Otago Business School have played their part in selecting the brand and blend of coffee which will be served in the new café to be opened in the re-vamped Business School building.

The creation of a purpose-built café, overlooking the Leith, and to be open Monday to Friday, is part of the ongoing building makeover which is on track to be completed by the end of the year.

University Union Operations Manager Martin Jones says three groups of staff and students took part in “blind” coffee tastings on Friday – giving them more “ownership” of the new café.

“We selected a short-list of Fairtrade brands and blends which we thought would be favourable, and had them participate in the tastings. The top choice will be the one we serve.

“It is important to us that we work with the University departments,” Mr Jones says. “We are not separate from academic divisions, we stand alongside them. We would love to have more cooperation between everyone at the University.”

Building takes shape

Removing the Union Street East entrance stairs (April 2016).

The Business School redevelopment has passed the halfway point, and the new look is starting to take shape.

Redevelopment of two floors of the Commerce Building started in October 2016, bringing it in line with a more modern learning environment. A new and more accessible and inviting street entrance from Union Street East is going in at ground level, and the old glass roof has been replaced.

Old Atrium roof on the left, and roof removed on the right (March, 2017).

The newly developed ground level will incorporate teaching, study and social spaces, an information sharing area, as well as the café and the divisional office.

The MBA programme will also become more accessible, with purpose-built offices in the former Dean’s Office area on level one. Staff and students are based at the University of Otago College of Education in temporary accommodation until the project is complete late this year.

Demolition of the Atrium stairs (November 2016).

Redevelopment contractors Naylor Love say the project has progressed smoothly, despite some unseasonable weather in January. The work is on schedule for completion by late November.

The café will open in time for the beginning of Summer School in January.

Watch some drone footage of the building progress.


  • The Dean’s Office has now shifted from what used to be the third level, and is in purpose-built offices in the former staff room area on the ground floor. This includes the Dean, administration staff, Māori and Pacific student support and the internship office.
  • The old leaking glass roof of the Atrium was removed by crane at the end of 2016. It has now been replaced by a solid roof with skylights, so the new space it will cover will be warm and welcoming. Windows are being installed on the vertical faces between each layer.
  • Removing the main concrete stair entrance at Union Street East has prepared the way for the inviting new ground-floor entrance off Union Street East into the central space.
  • Work is underway in incorporating a true cultural component into the space. Well-known Ngāi Tahu artists Simon Kaan and Ross Hemara (now based in Tauranga) are working together with the architects, the Dean, and the Office of Māori Development to develop the cultural aspects of the space which will be incorporated in carpet, fittings and art work.
  • Floor levels in the building have been re-numbered to reflect the changes and the project also provides a good opportunity to rename the building the University of Otago Business School.