It was good to go to the first public forum last night on the cathedral designs. The Press reports here with a photograph that manages to keep ADU's feckless correspondent completely anonymous! I thought the presentations were well made and most questions reasonable.Some questions were unreasonable, at least in the sense that they were little more than statements-of-position tweaked with the addition of a question mark at the end. The general thrust of questions, and the sentiment betrayed by enthusiastic applause was 'restorationist', i.e. support for Option 1. But what did I make of the evening as I try to keep an open mind on the strengths and weaknesses of each design, as well as a listening ear to the voice of the Canterbury people, both Anglican and non-Anglican.
I found as the evening settled into domestic bliss on returning home that a couple of convictions formed in my mind. (I stress that I am talking about my inner convictions, formed goodness knows how in my subconscious, I am not trying to present arguments for these convictions).
(1) We, the Diocese, need to talk carefully about costs of building and settle on the cheapest (according to a special formula) option.
Tens even hundreds of millions of dollars are being mentioned in relation to the three proposals. At a certain point it is required of disciples of Christ that we take into account all our Lord's teaching on wealth and weigh the possibility of doing something expensive and beautiful for him (cf. anointing him with costly perfume) with the possibility of doing something generous and transformative for the poor of our community and the world.
I suggest that means we go for the cheapest option with this twist that came out last night. Costs should take into account ease and speed of fund-raising. The Diocese, we were told, cannot or at least should not take out a mortgage in order to build the cathedral (e.g. because it would be imprudent for trustees to do so - I tend to agree).Thus we need to fund raise and then build. The longer the fund raising period the more building costs will rise. The more building costs rise the more expensive the final cost will be. Here things get interesting.
Last night the 'restorationists' argued that the greatest support of benefactors will be for restoration (Option or Design 1) so fund-raising will be (so to speak) easy and quick, quicker than raising funds (even lesser totals) for the other options. Diocesan officials are doubtful, factoring in a long period to raise a large sum of money (up to $30m more than Option 3). I do not know who is right (but let the generous supporters for D1 send their offers in writing in now!).
But I now understand, as a result of last night, that the 'true costs' of each design is (in my words) a special formula which I attempt to express in this way:
True Costs = Predicted Costs of Building ^ Factoring in Length of Time to Build ^ Factoring in Length of Time to Fundraise ^ Predicted Disposition to Generously Support Specific Design.
This means it is very complicated, and (short of indications being given in writing that generous cheques will be written out) very subjective to determine which option is 'cheapest.' Our Trustees and Chapter need the wisdom of Solomon ... (or maybe not, I seem to recall that Solomon went for a particularly expensive cathedral option in his day :) ).
(2) If costs were set aside as a factor, my feeling today is that I would vote for the new (hoping if not assuming that a number of questions about it lead to modifications of the concept).
Nothing in particular was said last night to lead me in this direction. Indeed some things were said last night which raised important questions. For example, I learned that the projected exterior surface of the Design 3 new cathedral is copper. Potentially good, potentially lasting re colour (it won't necessarily go green in Chch), potentially stealable! Views on copper, in the comments, please :)
Nevertheless, thinking about a range of things, including safety in future earthquakes, re-usability of the cathedral after another earthquake, dreaming of a more 21st-century-user-friendly design, today I am firmly in the D3 camp. With my questions.
Here is a question I have about the language we are using. Are the three proposed options 'designs' or 'concepts'? I have found that raising some questions conversationally about Option 3 I have been told 'Peter, it's a concept not a design'. 'Concepts' being changeable drafts towards a 'design,' I get the distinction. I wonder, however, if questions are not raised, how readily a concept would become the design!
If (1) and (2) seem somewhat contradictory I simply plea that I am giving you the state of my convictions, not setting out a coherent rationale for how we might proceed!