Royal Dublin Hotel

O' Connell Street

Postby GrahamH » Sat Apr 26, 2003 4:52 pm

What a shame that a sympathetic reproduction/appropriately finished facade was not submitted for the new front to the RDH on O' Connell St. The go ahead has been given for a modern facade, on the planning application it reads as a 'glass and stone facade'.
I know I've gone on about this before, but really, why oh why can't the CC not insist on Victorian/Edwardian facades for any new developments on the Street. Any modern infill architecture is grossly out of place on O' Cll St and shatters the historic appearance of the street.
I don't mean pastiche or any thing of the sort, but well finished and proportioned stylised facades, in keeping with 95% of the historic building stock on the street.

An Taisce's objections to it being next door to the only 18th century building on the street evidently had no impact on the Royal Dublin Hoteliers who have shown nothing but contempt for the street since they first moved in 1963, allowing the Georgian townhouse to fall into a delapidated condition so it could be declared 'unsafe' and the hotel extended.

And the rear-end of the hotel faces onto Parnell St in a manner which must make it the most disgustingly obtrusive building in the city.
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Postby dc3 » Sun Apr 27, 2003 8:47 am

All of this reminds me to ask what is happening to the plans for RDH near neighbours on O'Connell St, - Carlton, the long derelict site, Millenium Mall, Corpo purchase etc.

Story has gone very dead recently, are we awaiting further Court action?
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Postby GrahamH » Mon Apr 28, 2003 9:55 am

God only knows.

Correction, the RDH was finished in 1968.
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Postby StephenC » Mon Apr 28, 2003 10:10 am

I agree with reinstating a more sympathetic period facade. A new modern facade is simply repeating the mistakes of the past. I am sure the Pennys building and the Fingal offices were all very nice and new and modern and forward-looking in their time, but as is generally the case with 'modern' it doesn't seem to stay like that very long. To prove my point I have to ask how come the RDH is requesting to replace it facade and Clery's are not? I am not in favour of completely turning back the clock on O'Connell Street - although historical picture show that right up to the 1960s it was a very fine boulevard - but I dont think 'modern' facades have had much success on the street over the past 3 decades.
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Postby d_d_dallas » Mon Apr 28, 2003 12:12 pm

Regarding the Millenium Mall/Carlton project I'm pretty sure the compulsory purchase order got the go ahead a few months ago, and then there was a deafening silence in the papers since.
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Postby StephenC » Mon Apr 28, 2003 3:04 pm

This from last weeks Northside People:

Moore Street to be covered

MOORE STREET market will not be lost to Dubliners as part of the massive redevelopment planned for the city's historic trading place.

Dublin City councillors were assured in a report during a recent Area Committee meeting that the local authority is committed to the market.

As part of a 1999 planning decision by the council the area — known as the Carlton site — is to be redeveloped, but Moore Street Market has been identified as a mainstay of the Parnell and Henry Street location.

"It has been one of the objectives of the O'Connell Street Integrated Area Plan to upgrade the environment on Moore Street and to provide partial coverage to the street while at the same time retaining the atmosphere of the market," it was explained to members.

"This development was always linked with the developments on both the ILAC and Carlton sites."

Subsequent to the ILAC Centre's application for redevelopment and confirmation of amendments to the Carlton site by An Bord Pleanala, the O'Connell Street IAP has recommenced the design process for a canopy and environmental improvements, such as the pavement.

The design process will include full consultation with all interested parties including the existing street traders.

While stall holders at the market will be expected to welcome this announcement, news that storage facilities will not be provided by council for traders might muffle its reception.

"As a general rule, Dublin City Council does not provide storage facilities for casual trading," the report states.

"It is the responsibility of stall holders to provide their own facilities."

It was added: "Dublin City Council is committed to the upgrading of Moore Street and to the retention of a market on the street.

"The new canopy, pavements and stalls will serve to enhance this historic market."
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Postby phil » Tue Apr 29, 2003 10:37 am

I really do not agree that "Victorian/Edwardian facades" should be used on O'Connell street. If the street is to make a statement about our times surely it should be of our time and not just a copy of the past. It would be worrying if the only marker of our time were to be the reproduction of past forms superimposed on to modern structures. Surely it is possible to design good quality modern buidlings. I agree that there have been some buildings built on O'Connell Street which look grossly out of place but I think that we could now have learned from this and are ready to move on. If you look at Andy Duvanne's Stephens Court on St. Stephens Green it has definitly taken on a character of its own over time and fits in nicely to its surroundings. It is definitly more pleasing to look at then some of the pastiche on other parts of the green.
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Postby d_d_dallas » Tue Apr 29, 2003 11:40 am

I agree - I think it would be a mistake to fixate on another era. To build some fake facades would simply imply Dublin hasn't moved on, when clearly the spike and the attempt to redevelop O'C St implies it is trying to.
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Postby J. Seerski » Tue Apr 29, 2003 12:00 pm

The Royal Dublin would look better after a MOAB.
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Postby GrahamH » Tue Apr 29, 2003 2:09 pm

It is so not the case of fixating on times past, or anything like that.
Stephens Court works well because of the lack of uniformity on the Green, the site layouts and parapets of buildings are all erratic, in which case Stephens Court can exist purely for it's own sake in the midst of the jumble of surrounding buildings.

O' Connell St is entirely different, where the maintance of a standard parapet level, similar facing materials and styles are crucial to the effect created. It is not the case of harking back and all that crap, at least 95% of it's architectural stock is of an historic nature, and to have a tainting 5% minority of modern infill is simply unaccepable, particularly destroying the north western side/end of the street (RDH end)

I can never get over how so many people and architects just flatly refuse to even consider thinking about appropriate replicas in areas where a complete sense of character could be restored with a single building being redeveloped in this manner.
Instead we end up with either pastiche or some watered-down modernist rubbish 'reflecting the proportions and materials of surrounding buildings, being midful of this historic area', some have hearted 80s-influenced pile of tat morelike.

Development in the way I suggest is moving forward, not backward.
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Postby GrahamH » Tue Apr 29, 2003 2:11 pm

And if you want to make a statement of our times, you certainly don't execute it mid-terrace in a proportioned throughfare.
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Postby Zap » Tue Apr 29, 2003 3:53 pm

I could not agree more. O'Connell St. was built according to a plan and an idea in the aftermath of 1916. Although most of the building in themselves from that era are not amazing, collectively they do give the street a sense of presence and are appropriate to the idea of a main boulevard of a capital city.

The failure of this street has been the northern-most end where this architectural uniformity has not been maintained - Eircom building, RDH, Frazers. Why not re-enforce it and continue this uniformity from the Liffey to the Ambassador which is successful up to that point?

So far the modern statements (post 1950's I'd say) have not been successful and the question is - do we want to gamble more on this area or do we want to create a unified street taht evoke the street's age and prominence?
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Postby J. Seerski » Tue Apr 29, 2003 4:55 pm

Indeed - the arguments against replica infill in this case are quite weak. In the strictest sense, modern architecture could fit in well if it is done so with that idea in mind. Usually attempts at infill on O'Connell Street have been disasterous -even the most recent Schuh is not a good example. The exterior of Arnotts on Liffey St. is an example where modern may fit in.... Most certainly not PENNEYS on O'Connell St. :rolleyes:
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Postby d_d_dallas » Tue Apr 29, 2003 5:15 pm

Yawwwwwwwwn... same old tired arguments - I'm sorry for being rude but it seems the same as it ever was - people romanticising past built glories, and those who see things as they are now. The Penny's etc of O'Connell St are an eye sore yes. The idea of O'Connell St is a wonderful one in terms of design and architecture and a grand street for the country to enjoy - but look at it now. We can't have everything - redevelopment costs money and that too influences design considerations. I accept a degree of pragmatism is required when redeveloping sites in "sensitive" areas, but have difficultly with the idea that it has to be the same as it was now and forever. Good taste doesn't have a date, be it 18th, 19th century, or today. Althought here seems to a certain snobbish element to anyhting not built in or around Georgian times. Something can be modern (i.e. not worshipping at the altar of a bygone era) and still gel with the surroundings - I would prefer O'Connell St to have modern next to Old - it would show we're a country that can embrace it's past but also execute good architecture in a modern sense.
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Postby Zap » Wed Apr 30, 2003 10:40 am

You also present that same tired argument that we must impose our mark on everything.

I haven't seen too many examples of what you describe to be confident and really, that's what it comes down to. Sure, we could have great designs - but O'Connell St. hasn't seen many of these for quite some time.

There are those who insist everything must be new and we must impose our mark on every possible location available. Well, our era has the greatest opportunity to make its mark with the huge areas of potential development in the Docklands - so far, what could be the new city doesn't look very promising. I think all our efforts should be into this area just as the Georgians developed new areas at the fringe of the city that they inhabited.
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Postby GrahamH » Wed Apr 30, 2003 1:55 pm

To be frank, my arguement against replica infill is quite the polar opposite of what is suggested. I didn't make any comments with so much as the slightest rose-tint or romantic inference. You back up your weak arguements with changing the subject, bringing in the usual suggestions of Georgian snobbery and conservationism, there is one Georgian building on O' Connell St, the vast majority of it's building stock dates from the 1880s through to the 1930s.

The 'degree of pragmatism' you speak of
d d dallas, is exactly the 80s red brick and cheap granite clad crap I speak of, its what we inevitably end up with, or watered-down modernism, aka the schuh building.

Just what is the point of steadfastly sticking to modern infill, the schuh bldg being a case in point, located slap-bang in the middle of an entirely Victorian/Edwardian terrace.
If you set out to build a grand thoughfare, you most certainly wouldn'tbuild the vast majority of it's bldgs in a certain style, and then toss in a couple of utterly out of place structures for good measure. This is infill we're talking about here, not individual historic and new structures existing in their own right beside each other.

Many of the modern buildings on the street will soon be lodging planning permissions for redevelopment, and will be proposing to lash vast sums into structural glass and polished granite etc. Why not ensure NOW that this money goes into proper cut stone pilasters, appropriate brickwork and wooden joinery by the CC committing themselves to restoring
O' Connell St to a dignified state.
I'm not talking of 'restoring it to its former glories' in the 19th century, but restoring it to it's former glories of the mid-60s before all the present crap moved in!

I don't propose to turn the street into a time warp, the proposed granite paving and starkly modern street furniture & lighting would contrast spectacularly with a historic and diverse streetscape as a backdrop.
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Postby Aken » Wed Apr 30, 2003 1:57 pm

I do agree that O'Connell St. is a horrible mess as is. I dont think anybody could say otherwise, but dragging it back to the Victorian/Georgian era with mock victorian/Georgian shopfronts is wrong. Sure the Dublin bus building , Fingal CC, Pennys, Mc Donalds, burger King only make the street look tired and tacky. More shop/hotel front sthat are "modern" and stark and unsympathetic to the surroundings such as the ones mentioned above would be another shambles and make a street that should be the premier street in the city far worse than it is regardless of the paving or the spike. If we had always looked to keep out buildings in line with what has gone before we would still be living in wattle and daub huts, we have to move on. On a street as importand as O'Connell St. Very very careful consideration must be taken for every building or redevelopment that effects its visual impact.
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Postby GrahamH » Wed Apr 30, 2003 2:12 pm

It is not wrong to 'go back' when you're talking about an overwhelming minority of bldgs, literally five out of the whole thoughfare, that if changed appropriatly, they restore the ENTIRE architectural unity to the street.
This is the fundamental argument.
Its only five/six buildings.
How can you possibly disagree with that?
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Postby dmcg » Wed Apr 30, 2003 2:16 pm

i suppose if gaudi were alive today and eyeing up that infill site...you'd tell him to p*ss off cos he wouldn't fit in with the existing style! For the record I can only dream of what he might do there as he's dead...but someone else is alive today...you have to aloow people the opportunity to do their best in their time and trust them to do also what is best for the street to as I am sure a man such as gaudi would have done....you cannot impose restrictions where design is concerned....planning and development is an open democratic process in this country and if a design is appealed and turned down by ABP then so be it....let them try again....in fairness on an admittedly sensitive site like this a competition would be the best way foward....good enough in the middle ages but hardly used in this country much
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Postby StephenC » Wed Apr 30, 2003 2:40 pm

I would hesitate using the Gaudi arguement as Barcelona is fortunate in having a very uniform look. The Gaudi style is everywhere.

However look at what is proposed for O'Connell Street by way of new developments.
The Millenium Mall - may have died a death, may not - but it was hardly cutting edge architecture and I am sure Gaudi would be turning in his grave at the thought of constructing such an ugly behemoth being put up on the Ramblas.

Schuh is not that bad and it looks better than you would expect because the terrace is is on is so bland and uninteresting.

I would almost bet my life savings that the RDH will opt for a bland uninteresting and relatively inexpensive design for its new facade....remember the brown marble and brass front they put up a few years ago.

I think you have put across a very convincing arguement Graham although I take my arguement mainly from the fact that nothing modern (ie 1960s onwards) has lived up to the standards that should apply to O'Connell Street.
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Postby PaulC » Wed Apr 30, 2003 3:14 pm

I disagree Graham - modern arcitecture should be capable of producing highquality appropriate buildings which compliment their surroundings and which stand the test of time.
If we look back rather than forward then we will get no where. We leave no legacy of our time!
The problem is that many buildings in Dublin were built without the input of any architect or very poor architects.
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Postby dmcg » Wed Apr 30, 2003 3:20 pm

the thing about gaudi is that firstly he was given the opportunity and evidently a free rein without too many restrictions...obviously hiis buildings fit in in a certain ways but any proposal for RDH ought to and all the best buildings respond to their surroundings in different ways....but lets not think a mock facade is the best or only way foward
Surely someone today deserves a similar opportunity to do their best.
Perhaps we should be considering how cr*p buildings do succeed in getting built in important locations as has happened all along o'connell street (although i think schuh is not so bad really - bit 'todays-fashion' driven)....
But I do not blame too much our planning system and its planners for letting cr*p through - having read Frank Mc Donalds articles these last few days.....I believe its a good system but unfortunately it doesn't always mean quality buildings are produced......but in a location like O'Connell st we should just accept any cheap tat or mock facade in my opinion...only the best should do!
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Postby GrahamH » Wed Apr 30, 2003 3:56 pm

I'm so disappointed so few people agree with me.
This argument really has nothing to do with conservation or recreating times past etc.
It is simply about how the street LOOKS, its physical appearance, and put frankly, it would look better with appropriate 'historic' facades.
I'm not suggesting some straight-laced Georgiana, we could play around with designs, what about a wonderful Victorian gothic facade for the RDH, or a high Victorian front like Gilbeys used to have on the street and like Jurys on College Green for Bublin Bus, or even simple Regency buildings with brown stock bricks and granite corner stones.
The street could be so beautifaul.
This is not recreating the past, it is simply using architectural styles, just like Art Deco is a style, or Arts & Crafts is a style, or modernism, or post modernism, or neo-classisism or gothic and so forth.

But above all, why can't you all just see that with the rectification of a few buildings on the street, its entire architectural unity would be restored, creating a distinctive place in the city, with a sense of character. Would you not like to see a unified composition in our city, a beautiful civic space with a definite charm and instant appeal as an historic place, an urban space on a par with any other European city?

Making a programme about it, I and others spent days and days in the place, shooting virtually every building, researching them and the place as a whole. What struck me so sharply was the amount of effort so many people went to over the generations, over two & a half centuries to create a unified, dignified architectural composition and civic space, esp in the 1920s, and then the whole effect was to be shattered in the space of two decades from the 70s.

It is imperative and our duty today to restore that composition as some redress for the terrible mistakes made.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Wed Apr 30, 2003 4:26 pm

Originally posted by Graham Hickey

This is not recreating the past, it is simply using architectural styles, just like Art Deco is a style, or Arts & Crafts is a style, or modernism, or post modernism, or neo-classisism or gothic and so forth.


Reread what you just wrote. Using architectural styles as you put it without any convictions turns a city into a theme park.

But it was never unified! One side (eastern) was recreated in a reasonably unified scheme but the western side has been a hodgepodge for most of its life. The buildings north of the GPO as far as the Carlton are original and offer nothing to the street. So where do you stop? Demolish the western side and mimic the eastern?

THEME PARK
THEME PARK
THEME PARK


I like a nice piece of Victorian architecture as much as the next person but pastiche fills me with horror and to my mind is WORSE than modern infill.


Afterall every generation puts its mark or layer on every city - thats what makes them interesting - thats why youy want to visit Paris, London or Barcelona... not because they are themeparks but because they are an authentic mixture....

That's what cities are about - diversity. On holidays I go and see as much contemporary architecture as medieval or 19th century. I like the contrast of generations of buildings cheek by jowl.

I'd prefer a run-down and derelict O'Connell Street to pastiche. AT least the dereliction would have some integrity and a gradeur in decay.
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Postby dmcg » Wed Apr 30, 2003 4:35 pm

GRAHAM I JUST THINK THAT TO SAY 'that with the rectification of a few buildings on the street, its entire architectural unity would be restored' SEEMS EXAGGERATED TO ME...UNFORTUNATELY! I HAVEN'T STUDIED IT CLOSELY I ADMIT BUT YOU SEEM A BIT OPTIMISTIC WITH HOW MUCH NEEDS DOING....I AM ALL FOR YOUR VISION OF ARCHITECTURAL UNITY FOR THE STREET AND MAKING IT MORE 'GRAND' IN A SENSE BUT THIS CAN BE ACHIEVED WITH A MIX OF 'STYLES' IF YOU LIKE FROM VARIOUS PERIODS....BUT YOU SHOULD NOT TELL SOMEBODY TODAY TO DO A NEW RDH FACADE IN A CERTAIN PRESCRIBED WAY....THIS DOES NOT LEAD TO GOOD DESIGN....LET PEOPLE TRY THEIR BEST AND IF IT ISN'T GOOD ENOUGH THEY CAN TRY AGAIN...I BELIEVE MORE COMPETITIONS WOULD PRODUCE MORE GOOD BUILDINGS MYSELF. OF COURSE LOTS OF MORE MODERN BUILDINGS IN THIS CITY ARE RUBBISH FRANKLY INCLUDING SOME ON O'CONNELL ST ITSELF BUT YOU CANNOT CONDEMN THOSE TRYING THEIR BEST TODAY BECAUSE OF THE SINS OF THEIR FATHERS....IF THAT ATTITUDE ALWAYS PREVAILED THROUGH OUT HISTORY HOW WOULD ANY NEW STTLE AS MENTIONED BY YOU EVER EMERGE?
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