Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Fri Aug 07, 2009 9:02 pm

I wish I had seen Gurdgiev's blog entry a little sooner.

By denying the examinership to Liam Carroll’s six companies, the Irish High Court has put itself out as the sole branch of State that stands between the innocent taxpayers and this redlining reactor.


Written by Constantin Gurdgiev at his blog. I noticed that Constantin has a couple of entries on the Liam Carroll case.

http://trueeconomics.blogspot.com/2009/08/economics-02082009-liam-carrolls-case.html

I agree with him about the High Court acting as a 'last line of defence'.

I like things about the NAMA scheme as drawn up by Peter Bacon and the legal staff. But then again, I am totally biased being an Irish builder. What is right for the entire population of this island, is much more important than my own selfish preference.

A pipe dream for a businesses that, by his Senior Counsel’s admission generates just €22-23 million in annual revenue against the debts of roughly €1.4 billion. Now, do the maths – a company that was supposed to be bought by us, the taxpayers into NAMA will not be able to cover even 15% of its annual interest bill.


Yeah, that fairly squares it up I reckon.

But it also shows that there is not a snowballs chance in hell that NAMA will be able to recover any positive value from Mr Carroll’s companies, unless it forces his banks to write down at least €1 billion of some €1.4 billion in loans amassed.


I certainly agree with this analysis too, I couldn't have phrased it any better myself.

But what I understand is that Liam Carroll's debts would be multiples the size Gurdgiev mentioned, if it were not for the fact that Liam Carroll knew how to run a lean construction operation.

There is also the issue that Liam Carroll's lean construction little engine of progress was being driven into the ground by the banks who loaded more investment upon it than ever should have been the case.

As I pointed out in my 'Renault Five', 'No Win Casino' and 'Far Away Hills' Designcomment blog entries, Liam Carroll's engine would have been fine working away below the 45 mph mark, producing repetitive little units on small urban sites.

What went horribly wrong is that someone, somewhere decided that Liam Carroll's operation was suitable for doing larger stuff than that. There is an important clue in that for NAMA. Keep it steady and easy on that trottle pedal and you will do fine. We will work our way out of this mess somehow or another.

If the Dutch held back an entire sea, then the Irish can do this as well. No thanks whatsoever to our banking institutions.

Brian O' Hanlon
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby KerryBog2 » Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:32 pm

garethace wrote:
But what I understand is that Liam Carroll's debts would be multiples the size Gurdgiev mentioned, if it were not for the fact that Liam Carroll knew how to run a lean construction operation.

There is also the issue that Liam Carroll's lean construction little engine of progress was being driven into the ground by the banks .........


Brian,
You need to stand back a bit as some good ideas are being spoiled IMO.

OK, you worked for him, had a nice time, played with nice projects, met some nice people. BUT what you are consistently writing - for example in the likes of the above - is akin to Stockholm Syndrome, in which the ex-employee shows signs of loyalty to the employer, regardless of the position and misery in which he has been placed.

Carroll did not have a tarty wife/girlfriend/lover, he lived in a semi-d and drove a banger and was not fond of champagne. So what? It was his business and he ran it / allowed it be run into the ground. When that group goes under, any bit of knowledge worth saving will not be lost, it will be retained by ex-employees and reused elsewhere at the appropriate time. Dunnes Stores was founded by old Ben Dunne after a row with his employers Roches Stores. Penneys/Primark was founded by Dunnes staff after a row with Old Ben. Each of those ventures carried some of the best ideas (and staff) from the old offices.

Personally, I’d be happier if Carroll and his like went off to build townships in some developing country and did not come back. And the senior bankers could be their assistants.
Rs
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Fri Aug 07, 2009 10:57 pm

Yeah, I do agree with what you have said.

But I merely like to highlight the fact, that sometimes Morgan Kelly, Constantin Gurdgiev, Pat Honohan, Brendan Keenan, Brian Lucey and a host of other intelligent commentators are struggling with the whole in's and out's of the property and building culture itself.

I expect, due to their lack of indepth knowledge of urban planning and development itself, they are all collectively as economic commentators going to make mistaken observations and suggestions. They are dealing with a subject that is not 100% native to their understanding of the world.

Prime example being: Morgan Kelly's article for the Irish Times.

The reality is that, because of our surfeit of empty housing, there will be almost no construction activity for the next decade. Empty apartment blocks in Dublin will eventually be rented, albeit at rates so low that many will decay into slums. However, most of the unfinished estates that litter rural Ireland – where the only economic activity was building houses – will never be occupied.


http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0703/1224249965637.html

Even the average Archiseek visitor will want to object to the conclusions drawn by Morgan in that quote. Bearing in mind, there is nothing at all wrong with Morgan Kelly's broad economic analysis or with that produced by Constantin Gurdgiev. But when they get into urban design and property, they start to get a little bit unsure of themselves.

What Morgan writes about in terms of urban design and its problems is taken straight out of Robocop and Detroit, not out of the Irish context. We should avoid dramatisations that do not quite translate to our environmental context here in Ireland.

If the slum transformation was going to take place, it certainly would have happened a long, long time before now in Dublin. As bad and all as things are going to get, we should not allow economics journalism and alarmism to paint a picture of Ireland which isn't real.

There has to be some trade off where the urban design view finishes and the economics view begins, or visa versa. If I was to get involved with NAMA, I hope it would be in some human resources or team building capacity to help to achieve a healthy balance. That will be crucial to how NAMA will work, or not. (Or whatever alternative solution to NAMA we can come up with)

. . . . But much more to the point, how about my 'Strike Out' blog entry at Designcomment this evening? That is the big, big fish to fry in my opinion. Is NAMA the big play that will leave us all fully exposed?

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Sat Aug 08, 2009 5:49 pm

Dearbhail McDonald, the Legal Editor of the Irish Independent wrote what I believe is a very important article in today's newspaper.

http://www.independent.ie/national-news/our-supreme-court-is-one-of-busiest-in-world-survey-finds-1854890.html

A high-level working group yesterday called for a referendum on a new intermediate court that would act as a final court of appeal for all civil cases, unless they involve cases of major public or constitutional importance.


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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby KerryBog2 » Sat Aug 08, 2009 10:51 pm

garethace wrote:Yeah, I do agree with what you have said. ...........

. . . . But much more to the point, how about my 'Strike Out' blog entry at Designcomment this evening? That is the big, big fish to fry in my opinion. Is NAMA the big play that will leave us all fully exposed?

Brian O' Hanlon


Brian,
Not ignoring you, have guests including 3 small kids to entertain and will respond as soon as I get a chance.
Rs
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Sun Aug 09, 2009 7:34 pm

I don't know about other people, but I will remember the 11th of August 2009 on my calendar for the rest of my life.

11.08.09

In my own mind, I will call it 'Liam-o' day.

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby wearnicehats » Sun Aug 09, 2009 8:58 pm

garethace wrote:I don't know about other people, but I will remember the 11th of August 2009 on my calendar for the rest of my life.

11.08.09

In my own mind, I will call it 'Liam-o' day.

Brian O' Hanlon


you need to see someone
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Sun Aug 09, 2009 9:30 pm

Wearnicehats,

Yeah, I do get it. It is the rock bottom you are going for, the complete freak show of all freak shows.

It is difficult for people to understand, if you work in the construction industry with others who have made it their life and work. You wish for that industry to exhibit some degree of moral back bone. To see it all come down to this, all of the sweat and tears. I can assure you that is not insignificant. That is something. It is the sheer network of people you live with and work with on a daily basis in the construction industry. There is a very human side to all of that exchange. It improved some people immensely and made them who they are today. They can be proud. To others, it may not have been as rewarding.

I know a lot of guys who worked their whole way through this building roll out in Ireland, who had seen London rise and fall in the 1980s also. It is of them I will be thinking about in the next couple of days. That is what I was referring to above. As always, it's been a pleasure to converse. I can't blame you in your reaction to my nonsense writing above. That is all it is, nonsense. But there are thousands literally, who will be going to 'see someone' in the next few days. Spare a thought on their behalf.

No matter what we choose on Tuesday, we cannot win. Neither way is going to be easy. But we still have to choose a way. Such is the human condition. I have looked in detail at both sides of the argument over the past month or so. There is a lot more meat to the story than I first thought. I hope that has become obvious to any who have studied my scripts. I still don't know the right choice for the courts to make. I never will perhaps. But I will live by whichever choice it has to make. That is all that one can do now. That is what is has come down to in essence. I hope my few words have been of some help to some people.

Regards,

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Tue Aug 11, 2009 11:34 am

From RTE's website.

The Chief Justice said not one creditor had expressed the view that the companies had a reasonable prospect of survival.


http://www.rte.ie/news/2009/0811/carrolll.html

Dearbhail McDonald wrote,

But neither the High Court nor the Supreme Court were provided with a detailed breakdown of the December 2008 valuations.


http://www.independent.ie/business/irish/valuation-of-carrollrsquos-property-central-to-court-protection-ruling-1856268.html

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Tue Aug 11, 2009 2:48 pm

Lyndon McCann SC, who was acting on behalf of ACC Bank:

He said the fact that there was a large level of support from the banks for the application did not mean the companies had a reasonable prospect of survival.


http://www.rte.ie/business/2009/0811/carroll.html

Here is a crunch point also for ACC bank:

Mr McCann also said his clients were concerned that their security over the companies' assets could be diluted if the companies drew down further borrowings from other banks during an examinership period.


You could say the same thing about any number of subcontractors out there, who will find themselves being put back a number of places in the long queue waiting for payments, rather than the opposite, by injection of further credit into the Zoe group during an examinership period.

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Tue Aug 11, 2009 6:00 pm

Latest breaking news from the Irish Times newspaper web site.

Mr Justice Fennelly remarked it was “extraordinary” there was “great reliance” on a pre-agreed business plan which was not exhibited to the court and neither were the property valuations.


http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/0811/breaking6.htm

It is about time that the court requested some details in relation to Liam's relationship to banking institutions. I think that both parties have really shown the extent they are willing to go to in terms of hiding away from truth and hiding away from reality more to the point, in this supreme court case.

Mr Cush said the plan had been seen by the banks. He agreed the companies regarded projects at North Wall quay and Sheriff Street in Dublin as key to their projections and there was no evidence beforre the court concerning competing developments.


I guess we will need a rope to drag it out of both the bankers and Zoe developments?

The reason that no plan is before the courts today, in relation to NWQ or Sheriff St, is because no plan ever existed. That was Zoe's strong point or weak point, depending on how you look at it. They were not very good 'big picture' people. They were excellent small players, but found them selves trust into a role they were never comfortable playing - Big. Zoe were the ones who raked in the profits during the Celtic Tiger because they were a small player.

But Zoe aren't interested in making plans. That was the right attitude to have when you are a small, nimble, low cost builder. Zoe were like the Vikings, they had developed a basic form of navigation to guide them. Look for the sight of land etc. It was often joked within the industry, that Danninger worked the plan out on the back of a cigarette box. I guess Zoe couldn't find the cigarette box to produce in court today. The trouble is, that somewhere along the way, Zoe decided they would become a large player, but still didn't see fit to make any kind of plan. It simply was not part of their DNA. I see nothing wrong with that, at a certain scale within the construction industry. It works.

In fairness to Liam he did attempt to turn that corner towards the end. But even there he got it wrong. He dis-conncted his masterplan architects from his construction architects. The master plan architects could not see the 'big picture' of the company they were working with. They were simply a few very talented guys working together in a small room with great design skills. Most never even saw or walked the 400 acre sites they were designing for. Liam wouldn't pay for them to visit a site even.

It is typical of Liam to tear away and start building before anything else is sorted out. His word was always good enough for the bankers. I know that. Indeed his word is about as good as it comes in the building industry. Or else why would sub contractors reduce their margins and go out on such a limb to facilitate Zoe? If you can cut those kinds of corners, it is a great way to run a construction company. There is no doubt it, Zoe were economical and didn't employ consultants where it was possible. Things like masterplans for places such as Sherriff St can do an awful lot to muddy waters, and distract attention away from the real objective, to re-build an area within a specified overall budget.

Sorting out the finance afterwards rather than up front, along with all of the other short cuts, saved huge costs in the bouyant construction market. But going into a future era of scarce global capital flows, the model is completely inappropriate. But the plan with Zoe always, is not to have a plan. Stay nimble and agile, and leave your options wide open for as long as possible. Don't design yourselve into a corner by building expensive buildings, which may end up being in the wrong place. Build so cheaply to the extent where it makes sense almost to demolish parts of buildings and re-invent the plan. I see nothing at all wrong with that and Liam did it again and again.

The plan is always a work in progress. The plan is what you do on the fly. The plan is never finished. The plan is never written down, it is only communicated like a virus throughout the organisation over a web of phone mobile conversations between hard working men who know one another. It sounds a bit like the rules of 'Fight Club' doesn't it? Maybe it was a cult and I am not the person who I thought I was. It is time to realize that Zoe cannot do that and be 'big' at the same time. When you get to a certain size in the construction industry, the rule book changes and the above strategy will murder even the best. In this case, giants did not learn how to dance.


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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby wolffkran » Tue Aug 11, 2009 6:53 pm

The parkway valley site is case and point there Brian, first it was and i use this word loosely "designed" for one particular anchor next thing we have Tinnelly's in with two 60 ton demolition excavators with munchers and shears knocking large concrete walls,stair cores,elevator shafts and hundreds of tons of structural steel taken back down with the cranes that put it up a few weeks previously this was all to satisfy a new anchor, next we hear that particular client backs out so now we're left with a big heap of concrete and steel, last i heard frogs and wildlife have moved back into the service yard which is under several feet of water and algea.......
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby wearnicehats » Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:01 pm

wolffkran wrote:The parkway valley site is case and point there Brian, first it was and i use this word loosely "designed" for one particular anchor next thing we have Tinnelly's in with two 60 ton demolition excavators with munchers and shears knocking large concrete walls,stair cores,elevator shafts and hundreds of tons of structural steel taken back down with the cranes that put it up a few weeks previously this was all to satisfy a new anchor, next we hear that particular client backs out so now we're left with a big heap of concrete and steel, last i heard frogs and wildlife have moved back into the service yard which is under several feet of water and algea.......


and Mr liam is now under several feet of shit

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/breaking/2009/0811/breaking6.htm
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby Cliff Barnes » Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:21 pm

The plan is always a work in progress. The plan is what you do on the fly. The plan is never finished. The plan is never written down, it is only communicated like a virus throughout the organisation over a web of phone mobile conversations between hard working men who know one another. It sounds a bit like the rules of 'Fight Club' doesn't it? Maybe it was a cult and I am not the person who I thought I was. It is time to realize that Zoe cannot do that and be 'big' at the same time. When you get to a certain size in the construction industry, the rule book changes and the above strategy will murder even the best. In this case, giants did not learn how to dance.

No wonder it all went pear shaped and will get even worse for Zoe.

What is the point in hiring professionals if you are going to keep changing the rules.

I know plenty of small builders who would'nt dream of working like that.

Its 2009 not pre-1963.
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Tue Aug 11, 2009 7:23 pm

Wolff kran,

Have your say, have your say. Everyone please have your say. It is the least we can treat ourselves to now. When I received a letter in the post at the end of last May to say that my position in the company had been extinguished, I was quiet at first and then I fumed, and fumed and have worn myself out in the process. I am glad it is all wound up, I can take a break. (and give all of you fine folk a break) I am a guy who likes to get stuck into some work and attack it ferociously, like most people who worked in Danninger. When I saw my letter in the post, I knew there was something seriously wrong. Now I can at least get back to work, in the knowledge that some of the rotten-ness has been purged out of the system.

Thanks for the comment and I think the Parkway in Liam's mind was a mechanoo set. Because Liam wasn't well enough to travel in the later years, he was distant from the structure he was building down at Limerick. He was a man who didn't have the best of judgement, if he didn't have his projects within arm's reach. That is why he stuck to building in Dublin whenever possible. He was caught badly when all his eggs were contained in the one Irish basket. There are lessons for companies in all industries from the decision tonight. I hope they can be learned by everyone. Some outstanding criticism and analysis was offered by folks here at Archiseek throughout the last months, and that is valuable too.

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby wolffkran » Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:14 pm

correct Brain, once he called to the parkway with his son, he gave a spin down the site in his infamous toyota camry while it was still in the piling stage an hour later he was gone, never seen him since, and while his hotel in kerry was under construction he was only seen once also, at least that is open still and to the best of my knowledge is base for the roses this year.
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Tue Aug 11, 2009 8:25 pm

Chances are now, the assets of Liam Carroll will be held amongst the six main lenders. I know that Liam is still in the picture, just about, but he is no longer calling any shots. Hopefully contractors, consultants etc will eventually get something out of it, in an orderly manner. That was one theory put forward on the news tonight. The main feature of tonight's decision though, is that it removes the obstacle of Liam Carroll himself from the equation. That will set up the playing field properly now, so that a new light of reality can shine on all of this.

Our best bet now is with the professionals and hopefully they can impose some kind of rigour of logic on it all. The day of the cigarette box is over. I don't know, people knock it. But Liam would wouldn't have built 10,000 shoe boxes on every street in Dublin had he not cut some corners. What impressed some hardened architectural professionals I know, is how well the cigarette box worked as an approach. It turned on it's head a lot of pre-conceptions we have about building contracts and what an architect should do. Certainly it did in my mind. The Zoe model was a very bad fit though for building a shopping centre. We have managed to prove that point by now. Given that Limerick Parkway was a shopping centre project with everything else going for it.

Lets put this in perspective for people who aren't familiar with building shopping centres. A single steel column, which the cranes were moving around the site at Limerick Parkway for 'fun' cost in the region of €80,000 to buy each. It must have cost the same again in terms of wages to pay the crane driver(s) who were moving around the steel columns. Yet that didn't bother Liam Carroll. What did bother Liam was the fact that someone nicked a load of limestone hardcore for their driveway off site. That stuck in his throat. At the same time as that was going on, Liam was busy blowing away a fortune of €800 million of hard earned company capital on the Irish Stock exchange. The ISE has lost €44 billion of its own value in the last year. Now one can see, why I want to forget about this and bury my head in the sand for a couple of years.

I always thought the Zoe notion of themselves as the 'Ryan Air' of the construction industry had gone a bit to their brains. The Zoe model was a very poor fit for most everything else, except building of shoe boxes. It was completely 100% optimised in that regard. But it wasn't multi-functional. I do blame Zoe's directors in that sense, who intended to use the same model to bust into the commercial and office markets. It is a pity they didn't realize the folly of their ways. The most obvious department missing at Chapel house in Parnell St was a project management department. They would have opposed Liam often and with capability, so they were never hired.

The thing that will always baffle me though, is how Liam's directors were in such fear of the man they allowed Limerick Parkway project to tank the way it did. Without so much as a muffled word of protest. Though very talented builders and engineers in their own right, they were no better than crash test dummies as [large] company directors. They were fine as small company directors, where they could do the simple math and understand the smaller figures. It took six banks, and in particular one Dutch owned bank to finally jostle in there and contest Liam Carroll. They were doing for the Irish boys, what the Irish boys could not do for themselves. €2.3 billion is a whole lot of slack to offer any one man, and does raise a lot of questions about Ireland's confidence in itself as a nation.


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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby wolffkran » Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:19 pm

80 grand for a column, not the columns that went in there, the largest were in the region of 9 te the majority were in 4to6 te mark, i don't think duggans were getting 80 g's for those totsy little things. anyway i get what you mean, all i will say about the hardcore incident is that the heads that rolled, it couldn't have happened to two nicer so and so's
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Tue Aug 11, 2009 9:24 pm

What about the 4 storey height steel columns?

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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby wolffkran » Tue Aug 11, 2009 10:25 pm

3 floors over ground/basement floor so when you say the cranes were swinging the columns around for fun i automatically assumed you meant 1 part of the 3 seperate pieces that make up the complete column as your dealing with tower cranes that have a max capacity of 8te so lifting a complete column for fun would be out of the question even with a crane of adequate capacity (i.e. his 220te mobile) it would be bad practice and not very safe to assemble a complete column and try to erect it on to its stauncheons.
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Wed Aug 12, 2009 8:07 am

You see, that is where it looks un-real on the computer screen compared with the real life situation. But one of the many benefits of working within Zoe was that you got to understand some of both. It is getting harder and harder to do that in the kinds of companies we are creating today, in any industry. People are becoming more and more disconnected from the reality of what they are producing or designing. I grew up on a farm where we reared livestock, but even there you have a complete supply chain outside of that. With supermarkets having access to produce from all over the globe if they choose to change supplier.

I noticed one of the lads at head office moving the steel components around his computer screen, which is a different matter entirely I guess, and a lot safer. There were all kinds of options being played around with, of how to re-use columns and make whatever final, final plan LC would settle upon work. As always, the main directors simply got on with it. They were used to it, and considered it almost a matter of course. One of them said, change is the only constant here. But I know a couple of hardened engineers who were new to the company, and reckoned they had 'seen it all' were quite shook when they had to moving those large steel components around their screens, to accomodate some sort of new plan. I think it was to do with putting the ice rink or basket ball court on the roof. That was a last minute brain wave Liam apparently got when he was in Smithfield one evening before xmas 07.

No one really believes that Liam was capable of adjusting or changing the plan at the very last moment, until they work on his projects and it happens to them. Then they tend to believe it. Everyday contracts tend to have a sum they call a contingency sum, in case you burst a utility main or whatever. So that the whole contract will not have to be re-drawn in the middle of construction, it can keep going smoothly. Having the contingency sum in the contract is a good practice I think, but there will always be debate over what amount it should be. Architects will want to keep it as small as possible and free up more of the budget for the things that they like.

In the case of Danninger, we didn't worry because there wasn't any formal 'contract' between designer, contractor and client. Liam rubbed all of that out, and decided to treat the contract as one very large contingency sum instead. Not one single Zoe project escaped without at least one major change in mid-construction, that involved demolish of some kind. There was no blame thrown about as in normal construction projects, it was simply a normal part of doing business. Liam did make one visit to Tralee hotel, and boy, did the plan really change there. Liam took one step inside what was intended to be the hotel foyer and went, no, this is all wrong, we have to change it all. The hotel was practically complete. Of course, the revised scheme did work better too. But it is kind of hard for people down the line to accept.

There was a scene in Beverley Hill's cop where Axel Foley drives up to a construction project and tells a group of contractors the plan has changed. That everyone needs to stop working, give yourself a good round of applause and take the rest of the day off. That might help people visualize what I mean. But as I commented elsewhere, the guys who worked with Zoe for a decade or more had factored all of this into how they approach design. They were extremely careful not to pour anything into concrete which could be a future pain in the backside, where changes were concerned. Lateral thinking was always exercised to the full, and it was believed inside the company that nothing was insurmountable. There is always an answer if one is willing to look hard enough to find it. I have never met people in my live so positive as to their ability to solve problems of all kinds. That was the refreshing part about the culture.

It is the polar opposite to the typical architect approach who arrives on site and has a contempt for construction and builders. For instance, the architect who makes a contractor re-tile a bathroom 3 no. times, because the lines of the grouting joints are not perfectly millimeter perfect or something like that. Architects who do not understand real world building tolerances, design difficulties and therefore add enormous expense into their designs. With Zoe, they were sometimes quite clever. They understood the parameters on site of real men working with bits of lazer sights or whatever, trying to plumb something up, and tried as much as possible not to design situations where dead accuracy in X, Y and Z was required.

For instance, in certain bathroom tiling situations, where the architect wants three planes of tilework to meet perfectly at a corner. It is very difficult to do that, as the slightest bit out on any of the planes and you have to start again. Why not avoid that and not design in the problem to begin with. We had an external consultant architect at Tallaght Cross who came up with an idea of a cladding system, that all had to work with pin point accuracy and tolerance over 5-6 floors, and meet at all kinds of corners etc, where everything in all 3 no. X, Y, Z planes had to match perfectly.

Not that the particular architect understood remotely even, the difficulty and extra expense they had designed into the project. He or she still doesn't know, even though he or she has stood in front of the finished project and taken photographs. I have a few photos myself somewhere of the extra ordinary detail and trouble Danninger had to go to at Tallaght in order to make it work at all. They basically had to 'loose hang' the entire facade, before bolting everything firmly into place. It is like when you are screwing back the four bolts of a lid on something. If you don't loosely screw the bolts initially it never quite fits right.

Try doing that in a situation where scaffolding and the Lord knows what interupts your line of sight. It looks fine in the computer generated visualisation. But the trouble is, and where the costs spiral out of this world, is where the design looking at and approving the computer generated visualisation has never even tiled his own bathroom. Therefore he or she doesn't understand the difficulty they are designing into the construction (in addition to all kinds of health and safety obstacles to surmount also). One of the architects at Zoe, the best I ever worked with said that to me: Try to tile your own bathroom some time, and then come back and talk to me. This should be a mandatory exercise for all architects going through architecture school. They could be asked to conceive of a design on their computers or drawing board and do the tile work themselves using real materials. I am sorry I never went through the exercise myself.

I guess, money can buy you that kind of perfection. But one shouldn't have to, that is the point. One shouldn't have to. Builders for too long, have been attempting courageously to make architect's designs work. It needs to work the other way for a while. Architects need to think and re-evaluate this carefully today. We could divert away more money into energy conservation and on-site renewable energy generation, if the budget wasn't consumed by poorly thought out construction and cladding designs. That is how you get to a low carbon city. I mean, if you are having to spend this much bother trying to make the cladding system work at all, then there is no way there will time available during the build for added extras like good insulation and air tightness quality control.

You are fighting a losing battle to make the whole thing work to begin with. Architects need to back away from the edge of what is technologically feasible, in order to leave some slack which can be taken up by eco-friendly construction performance. Until architects know their construction somewhat better, we will not be contributing anything to combat climate change. When you go to architecture school, you are usually told by your professors that anything you design, someone out there can build it. Which is basically true, but it doesn't say anything about expense to one's client. Remember, the architect is never spending their own money, but someone elses. In the case of Liam Carroll he made a lot of changes, but it was his own money he was spending. Which is fine for the most part, but he took that away too far at Limerick Parkway.


Brian O' Hanlon
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby missarchi » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:48 am

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/0812/1224252421072.html

I actually have the opportunity to tile a bathroom "all the tilers are busy"
And I'm considering it...
The issue I have is the wall tiles weigh a massive 20 kg m sq. existing walls that are not straight and large tiles tricky joints ect... ( I didn't select the tiles )

A side point having a clerk of works doesn't seem to help with clean construction either...
Builders have enough trouble putting two insulation panels together in a cavity wall and not dropping mortar on top...
architects are also far from perfect...
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Wed Aug 12, 2009 9:58 am

The thing at Zoe, was we always liked brick layers, even when there was trouble with unions. The thing with brick layers, is they show up with their bag of tools on day one of the construction project and start working. By the time you reach the top of the building, your cladding is in place also, or pretty much. That is the great thing about having brickwork, you know how long it is going to take.

You can start sealing up your building, removing scaffolding and moving into the inside of the building. These other 'clip on' systems for cladding are fine in principle. But in reality you are extending the period where people are working at heights, moving large heavy objects around. There is no guarantee that the large custom made heavy facade objects will fit, having waited months for them to arrive. The odd one may have to be returned to the maker and re-done.

On one project I know, someone forgot to insert the bolts that held in the concrete cladding panel. Because they changed the bolt hold system for the cladding in the middle of the job. So the bolts were left out in one large concrete panel and work proceeded above that particular panel. No one remember to go back and fix the lower panel correctly and it subsequently fell out when the scaffolding was taken down. Fortunately, no one was standing around. I once heard of a housing project in Clare where the bricklayers left out the wall ties for some reason. The same thing, the panel of brickwork fell to the ground when the scaffoling was removed.

Building sites always have been dangerous places. Everyone involved, including designers need to take this on board. Even if we think we are incredibly clever with our computer visualisation techniques. I liked the way that Zoe developments was able to retain a link, or an intelligent conversation backwards and forwards between designer and builder. The regular building contract sometimes encourages the opposite to happen.

When I told the RIAI president I was doing brickwork drawings for Zoe developments, and he responded, 'Oh boring stuff like that', I was disappointed to say the least. Many other consultant architects would ask, what are you doing work for them. Or you have 'no protection' there from the builder. Some architects I know even accuse Zoe architects of being lazy and over paid. I don't know. Architects in Ireland simply have to grow up and understand that a more healthy conversation between construction and architecture needs to be facilitated somewhere. If not in the usual building contract. Too many young professional architects have grown up learning from their elders to despise the contractor and his job.

This is not good practice, for the health, safety and well being of the whole industry as we move forward and aim for higher thermal performance of the built envelope in order to combat climate change. I do like the approach taken though in Construct Ireland magazine, where the architect appears to have a better relationship with their contractor. From the articles I have read, they appear to work together to understand the best sequence of operations to take to achieve higher build quality. That is on small house extensions. But on large capital construction projects, that relationship becomes more difficult with the normal building contract.

http://www.constructireland.ie/

Brian O' Hanlon
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Wed Aug 12, 2009 10:37 am

missarchi wrote:http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2009/0812/1224252421072.html

I actually have the opportunity to tile a bathroom "all the tilers are busy"
And I'm considering it...
The issue I have is the wall tiles weigh a massive 20 kg m sq. existing walls that are not straight and large tiles tricky joints ect... ( I didn't select the tiles )

A side point having a clerk of works doesn't seem to help with clean construction either...
Builders have enough trouble putting two insulation panels together in a cavity wall and not dropping mortar on top...
architects are also far from perfect...


Yeah, I know. Both parties have to work together in order to figure out a proper sequence with which to carry out the work. In your bathroom tile project, you will certainly be short of some tricks and knowledge that a contractor would know about. The wonderful thing about Zoe was that it enabled a conversation to take place. I remember once, we ran a cast iron dry riser pipe up a stair core. It involved drilling of holes through the concrete to run the cast iron pipe up through the multi-storey building. We envisaged in our own architect's brain this nice cast iron pipe being painted and left exposed in the staircore, with the plastered wall running around the back of the pipe.

But when we went to site, we noticed the plastering contractor had boxed out around this pipe. We enquired why did they go to all of this trouble? Of course, the answer was simple except we didn't see it. In order to achieve the exposed cast iron pipe effect, the sequence of construction would have to be carefully organised that the plastering contractor went in before the plumbing contractor. Which isn't the way it normally happens. We felt fairly stupid as two architects standing there and finally understanding why our concept couldn't have worked, unless we had intervened from the beginning and over-ruled the normal trades sequence. But at least, there was a finishing foreman 'on our side' having that conversation, so we could progress in our understanding. In the normal course of effects that conversation is not exposed to the architect. He is removed from it, by several other intermediates. This is what Zoe over came.

Brian O' Hanlon
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Re: Liam Carroll: I did it my way?

Postby garethace » Thu Aug 13, 2009 9:12 pm

Yeah, this is certainly as true as I am sitting here. Liam Carroll's property portfolio is the juiciest one in the entire country. The fire sale of the century has already happened as far as I am concerned. Adding another one on top of that, will not make one blind bit of difference as far as I am concerned.

Karl Whelan, professor of Economics at UCD wrote the following fine paragraph today.

Of course, it could be argued Carroll’s property empire might be in worse shape than those of other developers. It seems perfectly possible, however, the opposite is the case. His properties mainly consist of Dublin projects likely to get developed in years ahead. Consider, in contrast, the position of those developers who have pinned hopes on developing the proverbial field outside Mullingar.


http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/opinion/2009/0813/1224252497177.html?via=mr

This is why the whole Liam Carroll saga defies belief to be honest. Certainly, for those of us still moderately stuck in our own little Celtic Tiger time warp.

Liam had to be some kind of genius to screw it all up. To be honest, we had tenants bending over backways to rent commercial space from us. But Zoe were different, Zoe didn't cave in to the brief the tenant wanted to give to us. Zoe would make everyone else live according to their own terms. Why did two, not one, but two consecutive anchor tenants walk away from the Limerick Parkway shopping centre project?

Granted, I will submit that supermarket chains are a little bit too big for their own boots, but still.

Now the entire farm is lost, all of that is purely academic.

Brian O' Hanlon
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Location: Dublin, Ireland

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