Leinster House, National Museum & Library complex

Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby GrahamH » Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:03 am

fergalr wrote:Leinster House 2000 cemented them on the campus.


Yes very much so. The significance of this development is/was probably underacknowledged. It marked a turning point in the history of the campus, more so even than the major office and restaurant block built to the south of the Dáil chamber in the 1960s. Leinster House 2000 effectively eliminated any shred of possibility of ever moving off site in the next half century.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby GrahamH » Wed Oct 21, 2009 10:52 pm

How can it be over a year since this thread was started?!

An interesting drawing here showing the winning design of 1885, by Thomas Newenham Deane and Thomas Manly Deane, of the architectural competition for the National Museum and National Library complex. Institutional Victoriana on steroids.

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The drawing appears to date to 1893, three years after the complex was completed. (stop looking at those roofs, gunter)

What strikes one is just how many of the important little finishing details have vanished from these buildings, or in some cases were never fully executed in the first place. The Kildare Street frontage to the Museum is shown topped out in Basilica Palladiana-style with a series of stone figures. What life and vigour these would inject into dour Kildare Street.

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The statues to the pavilions of the courtyard elevations were erected, but it appears the majority, including those to the street frontages, never were.

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The dark-painted windows present a fabulous scene of deep voids of blackness. A shame that has been lost.

We can also note a grandiose new portico in French neoclassical style with corresponding pilasters added to the front of Leinster House, with the ground floor rusticated breakfront also pulled forward. Finally, a touch of swagger to this notoriously sullen facade. A balustrade also tacked on for good measure.

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Again, it was probably cost that prevented these from being built. Additional loggias were also proposed at first floor level above the existing side colonnades.

As presented, the impressive Kildare Place elevation is almost entirely intact today - leaving aside the niggly issue of a brick boundary wall chopping it in two. Alas, the sturdy lamp standards were never erected either. These would have been spectacular, as they appear to be the same design as those that were installed and still survive flanking the courtyard colonnades.

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The same lamps can be seen over at the Library too. What a declaration of institutional clout on the streetscape these could have made.

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Of course there's no reason why they cannot be erected today. They could resolve the Library's lacklustre presence on Kildare Street quite nicely.

A further drawing here from the initial architectural competition held in 1881 for the Museum project only. Famously, this competition was ditched when it was revealed that the shortlisted proposals were all by English architects and all virtually unknown.

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I'm not aware who it is by, but a textbook French neoclassical scheme: more of an air of an opera house than a barn for housing ancient relics. Again, more projecting porticos, an incongruously pretentious entrance gate in the Dublin context, and an interesting Tuscan-columned gallery fronting Kildare Street which appears to be functionally redundant but aesthetically more robust, anticipating by a few decades Aston Webb's columnar screen at the Royal College of Science around the corner.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Peter Fitz » Thu Oct 22, 2009 12:42 am

So the original court layout seems to radiate around a circular lawn, with typical outlying pebble perimeter broken by wedge shaped, path forming, lawn segments.

Whatever about the missing built accoutrements, there is no excuse for the state of the courtyard & no reason why it cannot be reinstated. What is the justification for smearing the entire space with tar macadam, for the sake of 20+ parking spaces ?

Railing off the library & museum seriously compromises the courtyard further, not to mention the buildings themselves. The railings to the Kildare street are probably inevitable but is there no alternative to such a crude subdivision internally?

Its a shame Leinster House itself never got its portico, it is something of a poor relation given the detail of its flanking arms... thanks for pics Graham.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Paul Clerkin » Thu Oct 22, 2009 3:29 am

And Graham the winning design as published in 1884 is different again in the treatment of the blocks flanking the drum

Image

http://two.archiseek.com/archives/5541
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Service charge » Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:48 am

These pictures made me very happy and very sad.

Happy cause I got to stare at them for a good twenty minutes.

Sad because Leinster House and Merrion Sq have been ruined by cars and 'public' architecture.

The newly 'restored' lawn of Leinster House is a disgrace. A little bit of grass surrounded and intersected by tarmac and cars.

The Kildare Street front ruined by more cars, sweet shops, potted plants and cement. Why not the old garden?

Merrion Sq defaced by the war memorial and over grown. A barrier of shurbs and trees between it and Leinster House.

Very sad :(
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Global Citizen » Thu Oct 22, 2009 9:55 am

Peter Fitz wrote:So the original court layout seems to radiate around a circular lawn, with typical outlying pebble perimeter broken by wedge shaped, path forming, lawn segments.

Whatever about the missing built accoutrements, there is no excuse for the state of the courtyard & no reason why it cannot be reinstated. What is the justification for smearing the entire space with tar macadam, for the sake of 20+ parking spaces ?


No justification whatsoever.
The forecourt has been an unsightly mess for decades and its use as a car park does little enhance the appearance of our parliament. So much so that it has been suggested on another thread that the "Leinster lawn entrance is the modern day ceremonial entrance, purely because the forecourt has been a kip for the past 60 years". (Green shoots soon at Dáil Éireann, GrahamH, post 18).

It would be a cheap shot to suggest that the lack of dignity occasionally displayed by some of those work in Leinster House is reflected in the undignified appearance of the forecourt. Having said that, I often wonder what impression visitors to the museum and library are given when they look through the railings.

The recent restoration work around the back is to be commended although it too is far from perfect, but major re working of the landscape at the Kildare street entrance is long overdue.
There was something going on here a few weeks ago but I haven't been back since to see what, if any enhancements were made.

Anyone ?
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Service charge » Thu Oct 22, 2009 10:10 am

When was the courtyard dug up for cars? The design looks 1960s.

Oh and those works were to incorporated wheel chair ramps to the current plinth.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby thebig C » Thu Oct 22, 2009 5:12 pm

Hey Graham H

Thanks a mil for posting those illustrations. I really love those old engravings of Victorian buildings, which are almost works of art in themselves.

Its especially thought provoking looking at proposals for Dublin and wondering what might have been. Afterall, compared to alot of European cities we are fairly impovrished in architectural terms. Certainly the restrained Georgian terraces are reassuring but ornate Victorian set pieces are very pleasing to the eye.

I know there is a section for unbuilt projects old and new but it does not contain some buildings mentioned here, for example Soanes Bank of Ireland scheme. And I have come accross a few others. Can I ask where did you find the pic of the 1881 Museum proposal?

Interestingly, looking at old architectural competitions I find frequently that the second and third place projects are excellent such as: South City Markets and the 1919 Municipal Offices competition were I prefered the O'Callaghan Webb vision. When the rather amazing and extragavant Hungarian Parliament was being built in the late 1800s both runners up of such quality that they were built behind the Parliament forming a very pleasing Square! I will try to post more info on that again.

BTW, I agree that the Leinster "lawn and carpark" is very dissappointing. And indeed sadly symbolic of our country!

C
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Service charge » Fri Oct 23, 2009 11:10 am

Watching the news last night. It seemed that the plinth had been pushed back and a ramp added. I can only guess this was done for one reason, not wheelchair access, but more car park spaces....
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Pot Noodle » Fri Oct 23, 2009 3:22 pm

Looks Beautiful
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby GrahamH » Sun Oct 25, 2009 11:42 pm

Can we avoid the unnecessary repetition of pictures please?! My photo account loading is going through the roof!

Just a correction - I presumed the second proposal dates from the 1881 competition on account of the focus placed purely on the Museum. I don't know for sure if that is the case.

Forgot about seeing that design here before, Paul. Clearly the Deanes refined their winning straight-laced classical scheme for a more picturesque ensemble with a busy neo-Palladian air, with which they were more comfortable. The rotundas are given far more prominence second time around too.

One smart little improvement made as part of the upgrading works to the paving outside Leinster House a year or two ago was the installation of LED uplighters at the base of every railing pier. An uncharacteristically well-considered lighting scheme that works to perfection.

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And all of them still work - shock!

Two little rows of dazzling bright blue-white LEDs in each unit.

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The Garda in the huts used to upset the entire apple cart by placing a stand hosting a sign directly on top of one of the central lamps. I used to be itching to tell them to open their feckin eyes, but thankfully some enlightened individual has since noted that such people cannot be trusted, and have ditched it, thus also preventing my arrest.

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One of the entrance pavilions. The lanterns not working of course.

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While Leinster House as dismal as ever.

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The main body of the house in darkness, the column uplighters extinguished, random and ineffective floods directed either side of the front door, grubby sodium bulbs in the elegant Edwardian lamp standards - one of them blown - and nasty flooded hotspots to the wings. What a shambles! Indeed, the whole scene would look better if the floods were just turned off, with glimmers of light from the windows and behind the colonnades. This infuriating mess has been allowed continue for years now - does anybody in control open their eyes anymore?

The street elevations of the Museum and Library are also crying out for imaginative illumination, especially on such a gloomy street as Kildare Street where they would have spectacular impact. There's so much theatrical potential with their complex array of applied elements, basement wells, recesses and balustrades.

Fully agreed Peter that the landscaping should be reinstated. Not only does the above drawing depict that typical circular scheme, but photographs also prove that it was installed. The greatest crime though, as mentioned, are the truly shameful barricades that were erected in front of the Museum and Library colonnades. Yes, the mob can get angry - especially now - but why on earth is closing all the Kildare Street gates not sufficient? And not only are the installed railings riduclously over-engineered, they also replaced pretty, low wrought iron or steel railings that were probably put in in the 1920s (picture soon).

All just typical of the incremental alterations that so destroy the integrity of public, commercial and institutional buildings the world over. Not that this should be used as an excuse; we don't need bells n whistles once-in-a-century restoration schemes to effect change over matters such a these. Why can't we have incremental improvement works?
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Peter Fitz » Mon Oct 26, 2009 1:02 pm

GrahamH wrote:The main body of the house in darkness, the column uplighters extinguished, random and ineffective floods directed either side of the front door, grubby sodium bulbs in the elegant Edwardian lamp standards - one of them blown - and nasty flooded hotspots to the wings. What a shambles! Indeed, the whole scene would look better if the floods were just turned off, with glimmers of light from the windows and behind the colonnades. This infuriating mess has been allowed continue for years now - does anybody in control open their eyes anymore?


Dreadful alright, though the column uplighters installed to the Leinster House facade itself a few years back are suitably modest, and do quite a nice job (whenever they turn the feckin things on). What is the point in paying for these things, for it then to be left idle, they finally commission a long overdue lighting scheme and then leave the damn thing off, ah but sure its only the national parliament :mad:

If I recall, i think the flag pole is also nicely uplit which is a nice touch, though shame about the postage stamp sized tri-color that seems to be the state standard. Superquinn have the right idea ;)
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby gunter » Mon Oct 26, 2009 9:17 pm

Image Image

I wonder want happened to the urns!

ImageImage

Whatever about the wisdom of replacing the high wall to Kildare Street with open railings as part of the Museum/Library transformation, the original gate structure was arguably far superior to the Victorian pavilions (with or without urns). it's odd that the original gateway had such a divergence of design treatment on it's inner and outer faces. The Brocas drawing is apparently accurate, as John Payne writing in 1806 noted that ''The entrance to this princely mansion is from Kildare Street, through a grand gateway of rustic stonework towards the street, but within it is an elegant triumphal arch of the Ionic order, with three openings, that lead into a spacious court . . . ''

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Malton's view of Leinster House shows one of the two side archway that led into stable and office yards. The detail on these pedimented gateways looks the same as the central section of the inner face of the main gateway, as drawn by Brocas.

I think there were at least five Brocas-es, . . . . this must have been the one that went to draughting school ;)
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby GrahamH » Tue Oct 27, 2009 12:24 am

Ah the urns indeed! (though arguably the pavilions are nicer without them). Also forgot to mention earlier that the invasive new lighting strips attached to bases of the dome thingamabobs aren't working either.

The heavy language of the original Richard Castle entrance gate is indeed unusual, but it appears to be of that romantic, 'rustic' tradition of the mid-18th century - almost as if the Earl was trying to persuade himself, never mind the rest of the city, that he really was in the countryside. We know the refined treatment of the rear also existed thanks to a photograph taken during the construction of the Museum and Library, which shows it still in place at that late stage. If you look closely at the above photograph of the gate, you can also see two windows facing the street which lit the gate keeper's 'lodgings', to be generous in description...

Malton's view of the house shows how potentially animated its facade could have been if constructed of Portland stone. Okay, Malton embellished matters somewhat, but the contrast generated by a lighter stone would have made all the difference in highlighting the facade's rather weak relief elements, relative to the dour, light-soaking depression of Ardbraccan limestone.

Fully agreed about the flagpole lighting, Peter. It works extremely well. Bizarrely, The Shelbourne still have the best flag illumination in the city, carried out as part of their recent renovation. A single upward-directed spot catches the billowing flag high up on the rooftop just beautifully :)
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby StephenC » Tue Oct 27, 2009 12:43 pm

All this floodlighting costs money and therein lies the problem I think. I wouldnt be surprise if a lot of these buildings were required to turn off the floods to cut costs. Another visible sign of the times is the median on O'Connell Street where all the tree uplighters have been turned off. And of course all our new bridges, awash with architectural lighting, are also suffering. I would suggest that its as much a conscious effort to cut the city's electricity bill as it is one of maintenance.

Great discourse on the development of Leinster House, and some brilliant images. I fully support the comments about removing the internal railings between the Library/Museum and the Oireachtas building. I would suggest the whole complex lacks a unified presentation, lamps railing etc. most recently seen with the reinstated lawn.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby fergalr » Tue Oct 27, 2009 4:08 pm

Peter Fitz wrote:If I recall, i think the flag pole is also nicely uplit which is a nice touch, though shame about the postage stamp sized tri-color that seems to be the state standard. Superquinn have the right idea ;)


The Superquinn flag in Sutton is like something you'd see floating over the DMZ...

Here's the view of LH from the National Library cafe. Pity you can't stroll across the courtyard between two of the country's most important civic institutions. I've definitely started to come around to the idea of ejecting the Oireachtas from the campus. If the Seanad is abolished, Leinster House itself will be a parliament building in which no legislating is done. A uniquely Irish situation.

It would be wonderful to have Leinster House open for temporary exhibitions, lectures and evening events. The National Gallery, National Museum, National Library and Natural Galley could all be linked and accessed from within the one hub. The lawn would be a city treasure in the summer. And the Natural Museum would have some room behind it to be significantly enlarged without damaging the appearance of the original building. To say nothing of the space that would become available for the Library and Gallery.

You're not going to see that day happening any time soon.

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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby gunter » Wed Oct 28, 2009 8:18 pm

fergalr wrote:
I've definitely started to come around to the idea of ejecting the Oireachtas from the campus. If the Seanad is abolished, Leinster House itself will be a parliament building in which no legislating is done. A uniquely Irish situation.


Abolish the Seanad, concentrate all power in one chamber, and before you can say, 'somebody's burned the Reichstag', we just have one leader with slicked over hair, and we're dive bombing the Isle of Man.

No, there must be other options, could we not keep them for heritage value, as an attraction, maybe thin out the numbers a bit by making new rules, make them wear togas or something, that would get rid of the less committed, but it should keep the stately plump one on board.

fergalr wrote:It would be wonderful to have Leinster House open for temporary exhibitions, lectures and evening events. The National Gallery, National Museum, National Library and Natural Galley could all be linked and accessed from within the one hub.


I think we're back where we started with the great johnglas idea of building a new parliament building on Leinster Lawn and returning Leinster House to it's Victorian role as the hub of an unrivalled cultural complex - still a great idea IMO!
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby fergalr » Wed Oct 28, 2009 9:14 pm

gunter wrote:

I think we're back where we started with the great johnglas idea of building a new parliament building on Leinster Lawn and returning Leinster House to it's Victorian role as the hub of an unrivalled cultural complex - still a great idea IMO!


But then we'd lose the lawn and the view of LH from Merrion Square.

Eject the National Concert Hall from Earlsfort Terrace and take over the large site for the Oireachtas.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby GrahamH » Wed Oct 28, 2009 9:17 pm

Oh oh, and the NCH can move to the GPO as well! Perfect!
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby fergalr » Wed Oct 28, 2009 9:42 pm

GrahamH wrote:Oh oh, and the NCH can move to the GPO as well! Perfect!


Lol, okay... so there might be a bit of Pass the Parcel to this. But the NCH should've had a purpose-built building years ago. Sure we could put it and the Abbey in the same complex.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Global Citizen » Thu Oct 29, 2009 8:38 am

If the railings in front of Leinster House were to be removed, where would they put the €1Million "Siopa" and all the Connemara Marble in the place. Sales of Kit Kats would plummet if our TDs had nowhere to go while taking a break. Fuk the national Library / Museum. There are issues of national importance at stake.

Carry on with this talk and we'll be knocking Buswells next.

God forbid.
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Paul Clerkin » Thu Dec 17, 2009 9:23 pm

another drawing from 1884 showing a cross section
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Re: Leinster house in dangerous condition

Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Jan 12, 2010 9:45 pm

Another competition entry by Ernest C. Lee for the Kildare Street Museum

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Re: Leinster House, National Museum & Library complex

Postby thebig C » Thu Mar 18, 2010 2:33 pm

Hey Paul

Just spotted your post now. Where do you find all the Unbuilt proposals? Some of them really are gems. I'm slightly wistful that we didn't actually build a few of them.
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