Located on the ground floor of the SkyCity Grand Hotel on Auckland’s Federal Street, Masu is one of the city’s hottest spots to dine out.
But the restaurant’s high-end finish and unique design which ensures an exceptional dining experience, complete with a laser beam straightening chopsticks and an open kitchen showing chefs at work, mask the struggles faced by the project team to complete the new city icon.
The project, which took out the Retail category and a Silver Award at this year’s New Zealand Commercial Project Awards, was undertaken by the team of Naylor Love Construction, Moller Architects and engineers Xigo.
Judges praised the “beautiful restaurant that has already reached iconic status in Auckland”, and acknowledged the team’s professional handling of site issues facing them during construction.
Because the restaurant was located in the hotel’s lobby, and below the Convention Centre, much of the work was time-restricted, and noise levels had to be kept to a minimum at all times.
To achieve this, the whole site was enclosed with speed wall boarding and baffle blocks. The drills were also encased to minimise the sound when drilling into the column, but due to the vibrations, there were times when construction had to be stalled completely.
“Working to a very tight programme, the build involved the demolition and soft strip out of the existing Lobby Bar and part of the Convention Centre entrance,” Naylor Love quantity surveyor Jacques Uys says.
“Expertly managing difficult working conditions with regard to noise levels and ensuring minimum disruption to the hotel has produced a fantastic Japanese restaurant,” Mr Uys says.
He says much of the decor and designs were one-off creations personally developed by chef-owner Nic Watt.
“Nic was heavily involved throughout the process, in the look, feel, design and concept. Most of the wallpaper and interior is originals — it’s pretty impressive.”
Many of the unique design elements may go unnoticed, but Mr Uys says the details, unique methods and level of finish involved is what makes the project so remarkable.
“The glass in the private dining area needed to look like champagne bubbles so we had to adhere individual bubbles onto the glass with UV glue and set it with UV lights to stop it from yellowing over time.
“The plastered mud wall that is seen upon entering actually has straw in the wall — again, this was specifically designed for the restaurant because you couldn’t just make a mud wall for obvious reasons. We had to create an artificial wall made to look like mud, so those were some challenges.”
Although faced with difficult challenges, Masu was completed on time and within budget, and the team was proud of its achievement.