Shopfront race to the bottom

Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby gunter » Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:23 am

That's why they do it.

They know if they can make the sign big enough, alonso will weave through four lane of traffic . . .on his crutches . . . for a crusty foot long with five toppings.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby reddy » Thu Feb 04, 2010 11:39 am

Hmmm crusty foot long....

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Fri Feb 05, 2010 12:45 am

:)


It's such a shame with that Westmoreland Street premises in particular, as Thomas J. Coleman's shopfront was one of the most elegant in the city before it was mauled as Devin describes.

In respect of Griffin's, I would proffer that their shop on lower Grafton Street opposite the Provost's House is in fact worse than their upper Grafton Street equivalant. It is beyond outrageous. What other civilised city on the planet allows this sort of muck on their principal 'exclusive' thoroughfare, never permitted to form the setting of internationally significant landmark buildings?

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Pretty much everything visible in these shots is illegal.

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Peasant mentality to the core.

I've said it 87,000 times and I'll say it again: until we get penalty-driven enforcement, based on time-dependant fines for unauthorised development in ACAs and ASPCs, we will get nowhere with tawdry non-compliance such as this. End of. There is no other mechanisim that works.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Tue Mar 02, 2010 1:06 am

1/3/2010

I see Costa's new café on the corner of Dawson Street and Molesworth Street has shut down exactly one year since it opened (my, how time flies).

Image
(March 2009)

A notice on the door reads the shop is 'temporarily closed due to relocation'. Given it was an immensely successful operation here, one can only conclude it was the terms of the lease that forced their hand. It was a short term lease that was signed back at the end of 2008, as then reported by The Irish Times.

Incidentally, their cheeky application for planning permission (note, not retention permission) for all of their external tawdry signage paraphernalia was hearteningly refused by Dublin City Council last year. Not that it made any difference of course. They just held out till they had to up sticks.

"The cumulative effect of the back-plate, illuminated lettering, canopies, illuminated circular signs, awnings with corporate logo attached, together with a range of other manifestation, including poster display systems, open hours window manifestation and door handles, creates visual clutter in the streetscape and a poor quality image. The proposal would be contrary to The South City Retail Quarter Architectural Conservation Plan and the proper planning and sustainable development of the area."

So where are they off to does anyone know? They've literally hired a removal van and taken everything from the counters to the corporate art on the walls. Where are they going to deface next, and will DCC be one step ahead of them this time? Presentation aside, it is a sad loss of a vibrant social amenity in this quarter of the city.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Global Citizen » Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:30 am

Image

Dublin V Barcelona.... Spot the difference.

None of the on street postcard stands, protruding signage, oversized adverts and overall brashness in the Catalan capital.
The city that gave the world the word 'gaudy'.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby StephenC » Tue Mar 02, 2010 10:55 pm

Yes but its impossible to find a Western Union, Dublin Bus Ticket Agent or an ATM in Barcelona :-)
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby gunter » Tue Mar 02, 2010 11:29 pm

. . . and they didn't push their shutters up fully
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby rumpelstiltskin » Wed Mar 03, 2010 4:00 am

Global Citizen wrote:Image

Dublin V Barcelona.... Spot the difference.

None of the on street postcard stands, protruding signage, oversized adverts and overall brashness in the Catalan capital.
The city that gave the world the word 'gaudy'.


Have you been on the Ramblas?
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Global Citizen » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:45 am

rumpelstiltskin wrote:Have you been on the Ramblas?


Of course, and I agree the place is a mess at street level.
I usually avoid it when I'm there.
I'll never understand why tourists flock to the place.
Some fine architecture to gaze up at though.
But keep your hands in your pockets.
Or some little pup will empty them for you.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby wearnicehats » Wed Mar 03, 2010 11:54 am

had you turned round you could have photographed slightly diappointed looking tourists winding their way around junkies to peruse a succession of little kiosks selling anything from live birds to hardcore pornography. dicing with death you can cross the traffic to reach any number of uninspiring little shops. my rather dull morning was livened up by watching 2 traffic policemen beat the living crap out of a drug dealer on the pavement

The Ramblas is a triumph of hype over substance. That said - from the above description it could be twinned with O'Connell Street. All we need now is zero tolerance
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Global Citizen » Wed Mar 03, 2010 12:53 pm

wearnicehats wrote:had you turned round you could have photographed slightly diappointed looking tourists winding their way around junkies to peruse a succession of little kiosks selling anything from live birds to hardcore pornography. dicing with death you can cross the traffic to reach any number of uninspiring little shops. my rather dull morning was livened up by watching 2 traffic policemen beat the living crap out of a drug dealer on the pavement

The Ramblas is a triumph of hype over substance. That said - from the above description it could be twinned with O'Connell Street. All we need now is zero tolerance


A perfect description.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby KerryBog2 » Thu Mar 04, 2010 11:28 am

GrahamH wrote:1/3/2010

I see Costa's new café on the corner of Dawson Street and Molesworth Street has shut down exactly one year since it opened (my, how time flies).

Image
(March 2009)

A notice on the door reads the shop is 'temporarily closed due to relocation'. Given it was an immensely successful operation here, one can only conclude it was the terms of the lease that forced their hand. It was a short term lease that was signed back at the end of 2008, as then reported by The Irish Times.

Incidentally, their cheeky application for planning permission (note, not retention permission) for all of their external tawdry signage paraphernalia was hearteningly refused by Dublin City Council last year. Not that it made any difference of course. They just held out till they had to up sticks.

"The cumulative effect of the back-plate, illuminated lettering, canopies, illuminated circular signs, awnings with corporate logo attached, together with a range of other manifestation, including poster display systems, open hours window manifestation and door handles, creates visual clutter in the streetscape and a poor quality image. The proposal would be contrary to The South City Retail Quarter Architectural Conservation Plan and the proper planning and sustainable development of the area."

So where are they off to does anyone know? They've literally hired a removal van and taken everything from the counters to the corporate art on the walls. Where are they going to deface next, and will DCC be one step ahead of them this time? Presentation aside, it is a sad loss of a vibrant social amenity in this quarter of the city.


From today's Irish Times :
Meanwhile, back in Dublin Shelbourne has taken back ownership of the big Costa coffee shop on the corner of Dawson Street and Molesworth Street. The franchisee is understood to have been paying a rent of €150,000 as well 12 per cent of turnover for the space. The four years and nine-month lease has a break option around now, and Costa has cleared out leaving yet another blank space in the retail scene.

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Mon Mar 22, 2010 2:09 am

22/3/2010

A rare surviving element of 1960s shop front heritage in Dublin is in danger of being lost from the capital’s main street.

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The sensitively designed shop front of the former West jewellers, installed c. 1965, gives a contextual nod to the blind-arcaded shop fronts of the Wide Streets Commissioners of the 18th and early 19th centuries, thoroughly reinterpreted using modern materials.

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The famously reticent jewellers closed on Grafton Street in mid-February of this year after nearly three centuries in business. First established on Capel Street in 1720, the firm later moved to College Green in 1845 and subsequently to the present-day River Island premises on Grafton Street, before coming to rest at its current location at Number 33 in 1965.

It is rare in Dublin that reproduction design works to such elegant effect, and less still when dating to the 1960s, a time when historic shop fronts were being replaced across the city to make way for more contemporary models of retail expression – not an updated version of the same as in the case of West’s.

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Contrived of champagne-coloured aluminium pilasters framing landscape-shaped display windows, the shop front utilises a contemporary material in an ambitious way, employing further strips of purple-toned aluminium as window aprons and either side of the splayed inset entrance bay, as well as above the marching array of fanlights.
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The purple elements have become extremely tired but can probably be re-coloured.

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The fanlights are of course the principal delight of the frontage: beautifully proportioned and delicately detailed.

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The quirkily designed Ionic capitals appear to be of carved and painted timber.

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The current metal fanlights, although venerable in appearance, seem to be a later addition. This snapshot of a Dublin film reel from the late 1960s, shortly after the shopfront was installed, shows what appear to be painted semi-circular panels in their place. Quite visibly this was an unsatisfactory arrangement that no doubt led to their hasty replacement with the current, more substantial ensemble.

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A shame those beautiful cylindrical copper lamps have vanished!
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Mon Mar 22, 2010 2:17 am

The shop front trade lettering is also of note. Restrained, crisp and timelessly elegant.

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Take a closer look and the refinement of subtle profiling becomes evident, with a raised ridge surrounding each letter.

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The fascia, albeit somewhat cumbersome in massing, effortlessly incorporates an awning which reads as a streamlined gold string course when closed. I don’t recall it ever being used in recent times.

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The arrangement of this side elevation is unwittingly reminiscent of the grand Wide Streets Commission building at the corner of Thomas Street and Meath Street, where access to the upper floors from the street is also gained through a side entrance at the back of the building.

Number 33 Grafton Street is of course of significance in itself. A Protected Structure, first impressions suggest this to be amongst the oldest buildings on the thoroughfare, with a curious arrangement of relatively small windows to the front and side elevations and an extremely high ground floor both suggesting modification of an early 18th century townhouse that was once approached by a flight of steps up to the front door, above a partially exposed basement.

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Strangely modified first floor windows of a remarkable small size. The timber balconettes, possibly of the 1960s, are a delight.

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Things get a little more interesting once we look inside. We have no less than what appears to be the remains of an early corner chimneystack on the party wall with the adjacent building.

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The shop itself is graciously decorated; of a vintage that still knew what traditional design was about before the travesty that was the 1980s threw the rulebook out the window and gave it a bad name.

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Vibrant Soane yellow wall coverings with gold trimmings, handsome wall sconces (when was the last time you saw these anywhere?), sophisticated triplets of chic, recessed vintage spotlights, and beautiful curved, glazed timber display cases. The horse… you know you love it.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Mon Mar 22, 2010 2:22 am

Even the fusty, quaint window displays with morbid faux roses tacked onto fabric panels appear to date to the 1960s. Certainly they’ve been there for a decade or three.

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The timber paneling is surely original.

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Macabre qualities aside, this will all shortly be another sad loss of one of the last of the Dublin old school of retailing.

The reason for the closure of the store is not entirely clear, in spite of the official line that the discreet clientele the store once attracted no longer exist to sustain it in business. Only last August the store applied for planning permission for: “Refurbishment of ground floor shop floor to include: essential maintenance and repair of the historic joinery and shop fittings; the replacement of the late 20th century cabinets/counters with high quality timber units; the upgrading of security and the upgrading of mechanical and electrical services.” Little more than a few months later, and the business, with reserves of nearly €400,000, claims it can no longer survive. The various media articles covering the story at the time all quoted oddly erratic explanations for its closure. What is perhaps of greater relevance is that Joe Moran of Manor Park Homes now owns a majority stake in the business, and the value of the property, with apparently unused upper floors, may not have been realised…

In any event, any Section 57 Declaration commissioned for the property over the next while should unquestioningly, in my view, list the shop front as being an intrinsic part of the special character of the building. Careful consideration must be given to any proposed alteration. One possible solution to bring the frontage up to date for modern retailing requirements, is to allow for the removal of the lower window aprons in favour of full-length display windows.

Otherwise, the character and integrity of this charming shop front, which sits in a sophisticated quiet elegance adjacent to virtually every other shop front along this stretch, must be retained. It is the very last if its kind on Grafton Street, and one of the few worthy design statements of its era in the city at large. It also stands as an important and enduring reminder of the venerable Dublin institution that served the city for nearly three centuries, as jewellers to the Lord Mayor, and by appointment to Queen Victoria and the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland.

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Peter Fitz » Mon Mar 22, 2010 5:22 pm

Such a shame to see West go, I had heard that their rent was increased recently to such an extent as to make the business unviable, not sure how much truth there is in that in West's case, but crazy rent increases are certainly the primary factor behind the streets decline.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby gunter » Tue Mar 23, 2010 1:05 am

A lot to think about with that magnificent dissertation on the 'West' shopfront by Graham :)

Certainly managed to highlight qualities I had never noticed before, and qualities I wouldn't have necessarily regarded particularly highly until they were set out and explained in that way.

I read the beginnings of a debate [which unfortunately then died] on this subject on another forum recently where it was pointed out that the ability of the trained eye to search out and reveal delight in the detail of a pretty mundane and tacky building, poses a challenge to the architectural critic: Does he explore and extol these hiden delights in the hope that others may be challenged to look more deeply at the built environment around them, or does he lose the plot in doing this, by bluring the distinction between the good and the bad . . . in finding some good in the bad.

Then you add nostalgia into the mix and you start to wonder if your growing affection for some building or feature isn't just a knee-jerk reaction to finding out that it's about to be demolished, rather than any dispassionate evaluation of it's worth. Liberty Hall would be another case in point - personally I'm fighting off feeling of affection for this eyesore that I had no feelings for at all until there was talk of knocking it down.

It's a complex field. If there is merit in preserving the West shopfront, I' don't think the deep, bland, boxy, facia should be included, notwithsatanding the high quality of the lettering.

Just on that white horse,

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Is that one of those 'protestant' white horses, I wonder? [as discussed of the 'Billy' thread a good while back]
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Wed Mar 24, 2010 2:32 pm

Ha I was wondering that too.

Spot on observations regarding... observations. My thoughts exactly, particularly as a result of being regularly exposed to this example over the past while through the media coverage of West's closure, and through passing it by quite often. Add twenty minutes of photographing it into the mix and arguably objectivity gets thrown out the window. Nonetheless, while quirky features or minor detailing may reveal themselves during the course of assessment, muddying the waters somewhat as regards inherent worth or value, the substantive issue remains that the shop front in its entirety remains of architectural value as an expression of thoughtful, well considered 1960s retail design, of which precious few examples remain in the city today.

From a conservation standpoint, the primary question to be asked is the value or merit of the aluminium cladding and the degree to which is should be preserved. One school of thought may deem the material to be a tacky, quick fix solution that has degraded and ultimately long passed its shelf life. The other line of reasoning, which I would hold, is that the material was deliberately chosen as an elegant, modern but tasteful expression of the jewellery trade, whose use of sultry tones transformed an emerging practical construction material onto a sophisticated piece of architecture. In design terms, the poor resolution of the lower apron panels at pavement level admittedly give the material a stuck on appearance, but as a complete ensemble the aluminium works to refined effect.

This in turns begs the question as to what can be changed with the frontage. Fully agreed with gunter that the fascia can go - it is crude and unresolved. Indeed I wouldn't be surprised if it is the legacy of a previous tenant in the building. Dropping the windows presents a challenge, as not only are the aprons lost - which are intimately linked with the spandrels between the fanlights - but the whole sense of peering into a jewel case with its quaint landscape windows is also lost in such a scenario. Indeed the windows, with their gold aluminium frames, are one of the principal charms of the frontage. Certainly they are adequate in size for modern retailing. The trade-off would be a more transparent entrance in place of the rather seedy original door, which I don't think anyone will lose too much sleep over.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Paul Clerkin » Wed Mar 24, 2010 8:33 pm

While a huge "fan" of 50s-70s architecture, I think the re-assessment of this shopfront is bordering on nostalgia run mad - I blame Pathe newsreels.

It's never been a particularly attractive shopfront in my opinion, and if it were four years old, instead of 40, you would be condemning the fake fanlights, and the aluminium fascia as being cheap and nasty. The modern shopfronts that you commend are the direct antithesis of this. It's a curio, and probably designed by someone as a modern homage o the WSC shopfronts but not worthy of conservation.

Just my 2c.

But if someone wants to paint the upper floors to get rid of that green, I'll give a hand on my next free weekend...
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby publicrealm » Wed Mar 24, 2010 11:42 pm

[quote="gunter"] on this subject on another forum recently where it was pointed out that the ability of the trained eye to search out and reveal delight in the detail of a pretty mundane and tacky building, poses a challenge to the architectural critic: Then you add nostalgia into the mix and you start to wonder if your growing affection for some building or feature isn't just a knee-jerk reaction to finding out that it's about to be demolished, rather than any dispassionate evaluation of it's worth. Liberty Hall would be another case in point - personally I'm fighting off feeling of affection for this eyesore that I had no feelings for at all until there was talk of knocking it down.

Great observation Gunter.

I was having this debate with myself the other day. I think I appreciate certain buildings and facets of buildings (I'm not an architect) and I have found this forum very helpful in the smaller things - stuff I would not previously have noticed - such as street paving and unusual windows (and particularly I remember a very illuminating thread on council estate windows and design - brilliant - I have been pontificating about council estates ever since).

Probably like lots of people on the forum I get pleasure from these little observations, but sometimes I just don't get it - and this shopfront is one example. It's not the best example - because I can see why someone might treasure it - but some of the issues which exercise people leave me cold and then I wonder if we are all (to varying degrees) a little obscure and irrelevant.

Again, I found the shopfront thread very illuminating and interesting when it dealt with desecration of old county town shopfronts - photos by Devin if I recall, but I'm far less convinced of the value of the Centra debate in Westmoreland Street. Not a criticism - just a personal observation.

And like you I suddenly love Liberty Hall.:rolleyes:
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Punchbowl » Sat Mar 27, 2010 1:01 am

The thing about this shop(front) is that it looks like it's always been there. To my uneducated eyes, it could have easily been an 18th century shop, but even though it's not, it's certainly an unusual 1960's parody which has it's own merits.. I suppose the saddest thing is that it is an historic trader, which continued to exist whilst all around it was gradualy taken over by multi nationals..
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Tue Mar 30, 2010 9:00 pm

Yes that does colour matters considerably, Punchbowl.

But even on an objective basis, I think this frontage has considerable panache: an elegance that is let down, if not virtually obscured, by a tatty decorative appearance. Of course one could not advocate such a use of aluminium today, not least as has been demonstrated, it doesn't appear to last without considerable retreatment or renewal. And the material is not fashionable to the contemporary eye. Just as the use of bronze or brass in shop fronts is considered passé, doesn't mean we ditch it, especially where a material is as inoffensively used as on West's frontage. Indeed the pilasters are positively regal - much better detailed than the dross we commonly get today.

Image

Full agreed on that utterly hideous green; it makes this one of the most unbearable buildings in the capital to look at. But just imagine the upper elevations painted a soft cream, with windows and reveals in a dark buff shade (Conservation Code #567841), complemented by a slick new narrow fasica with crisp mounted lettering. The sultry shop front (spruced up a notch) would look simply fabulous. No contest.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby StephenC » Thu Apr 01, 2010 10:32 am

And of course remove that "high quality" lighting.

Actually I agree that the shopfront is rather ugly. I would actually hazzard a guess that West's refusal to update their premises and maintain a quality retain frontage contributed to their demise. The shop just doesnt attract anyone from the street.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Cathal Dunne » Thu Apr 01, 2010 9:29 pm

GrahamH wrote:1/3/2010

I see Costa's new café on the corner of Dawson Street and Molesworth Street has shut down exactly one year since it opened (my, how time flies).

Image
(March 2009)
.


I was walking past the closed Costa café and now its all boarded up with white boards. The dragon stone is gone as well. It looks very forlorn.

While I was on my jaunt, it did strike me how shoddy some shopfronts are. They're covered with stickers, unneccessary paraphernalia, gaudy signs and the like. Do retailers think we're completely blind that we wouldn't know there were shops there without all the clutter?
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby hutton » Wed Apr 07, 2010 11:31 pm

I got to say, faded and unkempt that it now appears, I have always loved the West shop front. What a wonderful joyful parody of WSC fronts. This is the camp swash-buckling caricature approach usually reserved for the Victorian interiors of theatres such as the Gaiety and the Olympia, turned inside-out and applied to what is usually the serious, sometimes po-faced, genre of the language of neo-classicism. How could anybody but love the over-the-top fanlights resting on the self-effacing golden pilasters? Rather than it becoming just another non-descript shop front as everywhere elsewhere in the city, restore and keep it I say! :)
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