I have pondered over the last couple of weeks as to the architectural highlights of the year here in Dublin but unfortunately I cant think of any major schemes in the capital. There is a new office development on Peter's Street connecting into the old Moravian Church on Kevin Street but its unremarkable other than being completed in such times. There have been a couple of nice refurbs of existing buildings in the city, most notably the former Habitat store on College Green that now reeks of A&F perfume, and the former Library on Thomas Street that is now offices for Digital Hub.
For me the most remarkable thing about the city over the past year is how busy it has remained...despite a very tough recession the centre of busy and active, plenty of new shops and especially cafes and restaurants (you could even argue an over supply...almost every new premises opening is a cafe). The core has remained vital and even expanded - streets like Aungier Street and Batchelors Walk in particular seeing much greater activity owning to their proximity to the core areas north and south.
Some worries about Grafton Street I have to say and perhaps the refurb of the street due to start i the next few weeks will help matters. Its hilarious to think back to the Tiger days when this was one of the most expensive rental streets in the world..what were we thinking! There are permissions for a number of redevelopments on the street that will create some larger premises and smarten things up somewhat. Hopefully these start to take shape in the coming months. However this year the street also got a Carrolls, another convenience store and a charity shop! Obviously the Area of Special Planning control lies in abeyance...Dublin City Council seem loath to ruffle any feathers in the city at presents. Some good ideas emerged in November or the street and its wider hinterland with this report http://issuu.com/dctrust/docs/south_wil ... ember_2012
North of the city, decline is starting to set in again. Parnell Square and the north Georgian continue to be ignored. The quality on Henry Street is slipping and little effort is being made to expand that area to adjoining streets - surely Wolfe Tone Street and Jervis Street are among the city's ugliest! The Markets area remains unrealised although a refurb of the City Markets building has been going on since the Spring and is painfully slow. The big northside setpiece - Smithfield - was finally completed this year and for once adjoining streets were considered. There are signs of life in this part of the city again but the area remains fragmented with little in the way of cohesive thinking being applied.
Docklands has declined dramatically over the year and the absence of an area manager (ie DDDA) is noticeable. Just small stuff...shop fronts, signage, the hyper active DCC Roads littering the place with improvements. But the area is getting grotty. Those busy bees in DCC Planning are currently preparing an SDZ for the area which may hopefully spur development. The Central Bank purchased the Anglo shell this year and work to complete the building would be a great boost to the area.
Things to look forward to in 2013...
Grafton Street refurbishment
A post presidency plan for Dublin Castle is once again being mooted - could that parking finally be removed?
A renovated City Markets building open for business
Marlborough - Hawkins Street Bridge completed