'History is the best judge of quality'

'History is the best judge of quality'

Postby phil » Wed Jan 28, 2004 12:15 pm

I was reading the thread on about compiling a list of architects: http://www.archiseek.com/content/showthread.php?s=&postid=20245#post20245

I was interested by Shadow's "History is the best judge of quality" comment, so I thought I would see if people were interested in discussing this further.

I often wonder if our appreciation of buildings is affected by their age. For example how will people feel about buildings which are presently hated in years to come. How, for example, will people see the likes of O'Connell Street House in years to come? (I quite like that building, but I think I am a minority) Another one which comes to mind is the Hamilton Osborne King Building on Naussau Street? I am not saying that there is a major quality to these buildings, I am just stating that there is something about them which I quite like, and I am wondering what will be thought of buildings such as these in the future!?
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Postby Andrew Duffy » Wed Jan 28, 2004 3:39 pm

Bear in mind that O'Connell Bridge House is forty years old this year, so we already have some indication of how time will affect people's feelings about it. I quite like it (although I hat the beer advert), a lot don't, but I imagine most people don't really care because it's been there so long.

Which one is HOK's building on Nassau Street?
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Postby phil » Wed Jan 28, 2004 3:46 pm

Sorry Andrew, I just realised that I think it is actually Lisney...Oops, Sorry. Anyway the building which I am referring to is the one just down from the new extension to the gallery. It is separated from the gallery by a georgian building.
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Postby PVC King » Wed Jan 28, 2004 3:50 pm

That is Coyle Hamilton Insurance at no's 7-9 South Leinster St

Lisney are on Stephens Green.

As for 7-9 Sth Leinster St thankfully the tenants are a lot better than the building :)
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Postby phil » Wed Jan 28, 2004 3:52 pm

Ah yes I am getting muddled by the companies names, not the buildings. I really like the Lisney building on Stephens Green though
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Postby PVC King » Wed Jan 28, 2004 3:54 pm

I think most people do, it is very well designed in comparison to its next door neighbour.
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Postby phil » Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:01 pm

So I managed to get the street name and the Companies name wrong...oops! Where does Nassau Street become South Leinster Street? Is it at the junction with South Frederick Street?
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Postby PVC King » Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:03 pm

Kildare St,

I think those who get it right are almost wrong
it is one of the most confusing addresses in the City.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:07 pm

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Postby alan d » Wed Jan 28, 2004 4:21 pm

......wonder if there's ever been a building that is now considered seminal in the development of architecture that was not controversial when first built?
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Postby GrahamH » Wed Jan 28, 2004 6:08 pm

Coyle Hamilton aka Phoenix House is the most disgustingly repulsive building in the city after Hawkins.
How anyone could ever appreciate its brashness, its horrible projecting, cluttered, finiky, shiny aluminum windows, or its horrendous concrete, today or in 100 years time is beyond me. I have to look the other way when passing - it's nasty nasty nasty.
Apparently it was a trade off with the Georgian Society in the late 60s or 70s, they wouldn't object to the knocking of the Georgian houses on the site if the developer kept the one next door that's still there today. Something like that anyway.

I think there's a sad element to the passing of time because when these buildings first went up people were generally appalled by them, whether by the materials used or more likely the sheer scale of them.
But as time passes people just don't care anymore, they just accept them, and don't realise that things could be so much better.
Suppose it's most notable on Stephens Green south, with the Big Three of trash lining the end with Leeson St, we really just accept them as part of the streetscape, that Dublin is just 'like this' with horrible modern buildings that people don't like, which in turn makes them not like the city.
I know of so many people who don't like the feel of the city centre, including family - all of whom are from Dublin, because of these buildings.
They percive the place to be tatty, ugly and crude.

That's why I object so much to the likes of O' Connell Bridge House, it creates the impression of a mediocre, middle-rise city, and destroys the character of the whole area, making it feel like a nasty provincial British city.
And I don't mean character in terms of 'oldness' and 'quaintness', but meaning a quality, human scale, with interest and distinction.
I don't think people's opinions will cange, some will still like it, and others, while most still won't.
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Postby phil » Wed Jan 28, 2004 6:41 pm

The only reason I am wondering this is that I am wondering if at the moment we look at our urban landscapes in two ways? Firstly do we look at the 'old city' and see a uniformity of appearance simply because the buildings are old? I wonder what people thought of some of the gothic revival stuff when it first went up? How was it compared to the Georgian buildings which were already there? What I am saying is that, although we see massive differences between the styles, we don't see them as being as different as people might have seen them when they were originally built. Secondly. do we then look at the modern city and see it as being completely contrasting with the older styles which we might have grouped together as being 'old'? I am merely wondering what people might think of some of the more hated buildings in Dublin as time goes by. I don't think it is that people simply don't care about these buildings. I just think that the ways in which we look at things depending on many different factors, some of which are more complex then we can imagine.
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Postby d_d_dallas » Wed Jan 28, 2004 7:16 pm

Agreed.
The division between "old" and "new" is subjective. O'Connell Bridge House is older than me - I consider it old.
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Postby GrahamH » Thu Jan 29, 2004 4:30 pm

I was thinking of that very point walking down Westmoreland St this morning, the fact that I grouped all of the older buildings on the street together in my mind, whether they be elaborate Victorian piles or the restrained facades of 1800.

It really isn't subjective though, because most people consider anything prior to say 1930 as being 'old' and make a very clear distinction with these and more modern buildings.
It's most evident on Grafton St where despite there being such a varied mixture of buildings, ranging from gothic in style to Georgian classicisim, and from 1800 to 1930, most consider the place to be, ordered, coherent and well matched, despite the fact that none of the buildings are regular in style or height.
Yet if the street was made up of a mishmash of post-1960 structures, people would have a very different opinion of the place.

We definitely see a uniformity in appearance because buildings are old.
And making a stark contrast with old and modern buildings has been very fashionable since the early 90s, with the emegence of better structural glass systems etc, so increasingly the city is becoming more defined with contrasting structures.

The late Georgian city must have been the most extraordinary place, with the same materials, strict styles and orders prevailing in vitually every building. I would give my right arm to go back in time to see it - albeit for half an hour...
Ah one day, just maybe....
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Postby phil » Thu Jan 29, 2004 4:45 pm

That is weird, I was thinking of Grafton Street in that context today. For example the Canada Life building is an interesting building I think but it is easy to miss amongst the other buildings. I like the way the old signage is still there aswell.
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Postby valentina wong » Thu Jan 29, 2004 6:36 pm

In my nation people often use adage with the same meaning of 'History is the best judge of quality'. Maybe it is reflected by the architecture.
But, in my opinion, the popularity always affect our appreciations of buldings. Some buldings are cosindered nice in today's point of view, but won't be approbated in the future. And, of course, vice versa.:)
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Postby valentina wong » Thu Jan 29, 2004 6:47 pm

do you think so ?
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Postby FIN » Thu Jan 29, 2004 7:04 pm

i don't know what to think about the caption of this thread. sounds too much like , if it's still standing after a few years then it must be good,.
now valentina , i agree with u there. popularity goes a long way to determine appreciation however humans tend to have the wierdest taste sometimes and take interest in some awlful buildings.
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Postby phil » Thu Jan 29, 2004 7:20 pm

Fin, that is not what was meant by the original quote I used, nor is it what I am saying. I am just pointing out how peoples tastes may change through time. For example I am sure that the preservation of some of the industrial buildings in the Docklands would seem strange to people from the late 19th or early 20th century if they saw them now.
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Postby FIN » Thu Jan 29, 2004 7:35 pm

fair enough. yea i was thinking that after i wrote that. it would probably be like in the future preserving farm sheds....
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Postby FIN » Thu Jan 29, 2004 7:35 pm

shit..computer gone mad
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Postby FIN » Thu Jan 29, 2004 7:35 pm

stop computer..or u'll be fucked out the window!!!!:mad:
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Postby shaun » Fri Jan 30, 2004 12:45 pm

The best indicator of a quality architecture is a
structure that grabs you and makes you want to look at it even if it is incongruous, in Dublin one could easily site the Central Bank on Dame street as a prime example of this, and there are other examples too.
Do you pass it without looking up at it or feeling it's gravitational pull as you walk under it ? Or when you walk through Merchants arch
from the quays and appreciate what a charming Georgian urban vista this is and then are faced with the massive block of the Central Bank as you emerge out the other side
and are struck by this daring 1970's urban vista ? Dublin does have it moments, though I'm not sure a Dutch town-planner would have dreamed it up.
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Postby GrahamH » Fri Jan 30, 2004 9:01 pm

That's an interesting point Phil about the likes of Stack A, the Victorians would look at us like we had two heads for appreciating such coarse and utilitarian structures.
Even standard domestic Victorian interiors, which even architects and artists of their day criticised, are drooled over by most people today (including myself!)
It's extraordinary how older buildings have gathered such status, immunity from any form of criticisim - almost sacred.
What I've always wondered is will it ever cease? I mean for example, the listed structures on Grafton St - the CC or conservation groups, even the public, certainly in the medium term, will never allow these structures to be demolished.
Soon they become 200 years old, further elevating their status. Then 250, then 300 - it goes on.
Soon they are on a par with medieval structures in the UK and become untouchable.
And eventually they are equated to the Parthenon etc in age, and become sacrosanct.
Will there ever be any other buildings on these sites?
I've always wondered what would James Gandon or Lovett Pearce have said if you told them their buildings would be worshipped in 200/300 years time, and that the foundations they were looking at were unlikely to ever see the light of day again?
(excluding 1922!)
It's a facinating area.
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Postby GrahamH » Fri Jan 30, 2004 9:07 pm

I think the 'Georgian' vista as you emerge from Merchants Arch is fantastic, one of the best experiences of the city - they way you move from the warren of streets of Temple Bar to the comparitively massive scale of the Liffey and 'the Georgian city'.
What a shame the Georgians never developed the quays properly, leaving Zoe Developments of all people to pick up the pieces.
They could have made a much better job at historical accurracy than they did, and the rendered happy happy brightly painted infills are laughable.
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