Good to see the new Eyre Square being nominated in this. Now the buildings around the square need attention - improvement of shopfront design, reinstating of architectural character in older buildings and protection against bad rooflines.Eyre Square nominated for major award
Frank McDonald, Environment Editor
After all the hue and cry about its controversial face-lift, Eyre Square in Galway has now been nominated for the Academy of Urbanism's Great Place award - in competition with Meeting House Square in Dublin's Temple Bar.
Eyre Square is described as the place "Galway was built around . . . given a new lease of life in the 21st century" in guidance notes circulated to academy members, while Meeting House Square is described as "part of Temple Bar's sequence of streets and spaces".
The other contenders are Brighton Beach; the South Bank, Exmouth Market and Duke of York Square in London; Exchange Square in Manchester; the Quayside in Newcastle; Royal Exchange Square in Glasgow; and the Winter Gardens in Sheffield.
Two Irish towns - Armagh and Kilkenny - are in contention for the academy's Great Town award with Brecon, in Wales; Cheltenham, Huddersfield, Malmesbury and Winchester, in England; and Inveraray and St Andrews, in Scotland.
The main streets of Ireland's two largest cities - O'Connell Street, Dublin, and Donegall Place/Royal Avenue, Belfast - have been nominated for the Great Street award. Other contenders include Glasgow's Buchanan Street and London's Regent Street.
For the Great Neighbourhood award, Temple Bar has made the cut, but it's up against stiff competition from Castlefields in Manchester, Soho and Shad Thames in London, Stockbridge in Edinburgh, and Rope Walks in Liverpool, among others.
The principal award, European City of the Year, will go to one of 10 contenders - Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Budapest, Graz, Helsinki, Istanbul, Lyon, Stockholm and Turin. Dublin made last year's shortlist, but lost out to Edinburgh.
St Stephen's Green was a finalist for the 2006 Great Place award, but it went to Borough Market in London.
The other winners last year were Ludlow (Great Town), Merchant City, Glasgow (Great Neighbourhood) and Marylebone High Street, London (Great Street).
The 2007 nominees will be whittled down to three finalists in each category at the academy's nominations dinner in the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, on May 24th.
Every shortlisted nominee with then be visited before the winners are selected in November.
All will be judged by academy members on the basis of a number of key criteria, including governance, local character and distinctiveness, user friendliness, functionality, commercial success and viability, and environmental and social sustainability.
Formed in 2006, the Academy of Urbanism of Great Britain and Ireland brings together a group of thinkers and practitioners involved in the social, cultural, economic, political and physical development of cities, towns and villages throughout both islands.
The academy's theme, Space, Place, Life, is to be explored at a conference in Dublin Castle on May 24th, jointly organised by the Urban Forum. Speakers will include architects SeÃ¡n O'Laoire and Sir Terry Farrell, and Dublin city planner Dick Gleeson.
The conference will be preceded by a study tour of Belfast, to see its recent transformation by the "peace dividend", and will be followed by walking tours of Dublin city centre and the docklands area.
Further details from firstname.lastname@example.org
• Frank McDonald is a founder member of the Academy of Urbanism and is its writer in residence.
Â© The Irish Times - April 28, 2007
Kilkenny needs more restriction on cars in the centre. It's not quite as bad as some towns, but enough to detract from the place.
Despite there being a long way to go in the improvement of its use culture, and its total failure on the cycling front, O'Connell Street deserves a mention because it's so much more pleasant to walk and hang around there than it used to be.
The crowds now around the South Bank in London are amazing since the Millennium Bridge, the two new Hungerford pedestrian bridges, the Eye & Tate Modern.
As somewhere that isn't mentioned above, would the Italian Quarter in Dublin be worthy of a new 'great place'? - civilised outdoor eating and drinking in the summer … none of the vomit & violence of Temple Bar.