Murray O'Laoire

Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby onq » Sun Mar 28, 2010 8:23 pm

teak wrote:Yes.
(snip)
The communiqué today - moreover the self-important refusal to comment further or answer press enquiries - shows a darker undercurrent.

You're posting like a bad version of a well-known crime correspondent.
Instead of posting dark and badly written melodrama like you, I shall engage in rank speculation instead.
It is possible there were people who wanted to keep the office going, to seek credit to do so in the hope things would turn around later this year or next and thereby run up massive debts.
A decision was made and to avoid unpleasantness a veil was drawn over those discussions - this is part of what is known as the orderly winding down of a company.
The suggestion in the 9 o'clock news that the state was a principal bad debtor will put a cold chill down everyone whose hopes depend on government work.
This is something the press will certainly latch on to.
(snip)


Really - you think?

John Graby has been highlighting the grim reality of Public Sector Work way back in 2008 and again in 2009, particularly on Morning Ireland on the date of the launch of the Registration Board on 16th November 2009.
I may not agree with the man on some of what he's been a party to recently, but there is no doubt in my mind that he has the best interests of practitioners who are Members of the Institute at heart, and he saw the government's lip service and duplicity coming a long way off.

The only question that arises in my mind is whether he was far sighted enough to see the depth of this economic downturn and was the BCA 2007 *that* far sighted a policy to try and protect the bigger MRIAI practices as suggested in another thread - I don't think so myself.

I think the depth of this has caught all of us by surprise and its not over yet - another harsh budget leading to strikes and civil unrest, or a double dip recession and Ireland will go to the dogs.

Unless you see the - dare I say it - architects of this disaster being called publicly to account and feeling the pain, expect this "Earls over Serfs" nonsense to continue.

And if you want to see who the architects of all this pain are - follow the money.

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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby tommyt » Sun Mar 28, 2010 10:03 pm

onq wrote:I'm not naive tommt.
I run my own sole tradership, although for how long is anyone's guess.
Previously I reported directly to the principal of a practice similar to the size of Murray O'Laoire.
I faced people not paying their bills every day, and having to keep staff morale up while ensuring compliant work was done.
Non-paying thievery doesn't just occur in recessions - it goes on all the time, but in the boom times you just write it off to bad debts.



By all accounts Murray O'Laoire, particularly Sean O'Laoire, were pretty staff focussed, as are most successful practices.



Advertising massive redundancies is the last thing people in management do, regardless of the reason.
Anyone in in the profession feeling warm about their position in 2009 defines the term "naive".

ONQ.


Fair enough. Posted in haste as usual and I accept a lot of your points. On the other hand I work in an organisation (larger in total than MOLA) that values its staff enough to keep everyone abreast of the month to month fianancial health of the company.

Anyone who has been made redundant was aware months in advance of the precariousness of their position (which is pretty much everyone for the past 18 months)

I have also been informed by friends in the fianacial sector that any large employer who doesn't hold a war chest of six months staff salary is trading relatively dodgily.

I would still contend that immediate liquidation of a company of this size and stature has to attract a decent level of scepticism.
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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby onq » Mon Mar 29, 2010 9:34 am

I also agree with your points in the main tommyt, and what I was really trying to point out what that unless people actually know the policies of Murray O'Laoire towards their staff they shouldn't be making accusations of what knowledge was dessiminated by the directors to the people working in the firm.

We held a war chest that has lasted us for a year and more as sole traders - we are now facing oblivion, because like all good things, war chests run out - its the lack of ongoing profitable work from clients who pay that is screwing all of us into the ground.

Be a skeptic all you want, but just remember that by biting the bullet now suggests that MOR were in fact NOT trading dodgily - a fact they as DIrectors must adhere to in order to avoid censure by the receiver. Continuing to trade in the face of no profitable work WOULD BE a breach of their duties as directors and that is one factor that might have precipitated what seems to us to be "sudden", but which I expect was something known for a good while.

It may be that the recent closure of Traynor O'Toole has concentrated their minds, as it has the minds of all of us working in the profession.

I hated Gay Byrne for making his comment on the Late Late Show with Ryan Tubridy that this year "will be a bloodbath", but Uncle Greybo was right - we're in March still and we've lost two of the brightest lights in Irish Architecture and BKD are sending signals that all is not well in their practice too.

I was too young to remember the boom in the 1960's, but I wonder is this what it was like at the end of that cycle - did people have this same feeling of utter despair and hopelessness - despite their best efforts - that numbs the mind and makes it difficult to see a future path?

I can still remember queuing for petrol in the nineteen-seventies - then getting annoyed with the long wait as a biker in a line of cars and roaring off laughing into the distance, giving my lone digit salute to the petrol station as I passed, knowing that the petrol crisis was just another fallout of some superower's manipulation of the world.

(tut, tut)

Most un-politically correct, but I get a similar urge today.

This time to sell up and move on, in the face of an economy that has been plunged hugely into debt by virtue of the current property bubble boom and bust cycle, and profligate spending beyond our means by many of us.
Still, its different now with a family to support and good clients who will return once things improve - its how long that will take that's the problem.
That, as well as wondering whether its worthwhile actually going anywhere else to look for work at all - look at the airport car parks in Dubai - allegedly full of cars abandoned by people who were let go and couldn't afford the repayments.
Work might be okay "over there" for a while, but there are signs that the Derivative Bubble is up next and that may push us intp a deeper, so-called Double-Dip Depression.

(sighs)

Time for the antidote to all that depressing stuff - a cuppa tea.

:)

Later.

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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby hell » Mon Mar 29, 2010 11:07 am

Just on the subject of firms being owed money by the public sector:

I think the media will definitely NOT latch on to this one - it is a well known fact in business circles that many firms that have gone to the wall might still be trading if their public sector clients had paid their bills - but somehow it's not pc to publicise this fact.

The irony of the thing is that firm closures will cost the public sector more in redundancy payments and social welfare payments - if anyone of those useless wasters in government had any aptitude for alteral thinking, they would realise that it's always better to keep a sound company going rather than let it go to the wall. And I'm not even talking about giving hand-outs - just paying your bills would be a start Mr. Useless Taoiseach Cowen!!!!!!
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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby wearnicehats » Mon Mar 29, 2010 2:00 pm

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/finance/2010/0329/1224267276492.html

THE COLLAPSE last Friday of such a prominent architectural practice as Murray Ó Laoire shows how bleak the outlook is for many professionals in the construction sector – not just architects, but also engineers, quantity surveyors and others in the frontline of an industry in deep trouble., writes FRANK MCDONALD , Environment Editor

Murray Ó Laoire Architects (MOLA) went into liquidation, with the loss of 127 jobs, after its bankers pulled the plug. The firm said it was “unable to meet its current financial obligations” because of cumulative bad debts, problems in getting more work and “the increasing difficulties in getting paid on time, or at all”.

Seán Ó Laoire, founder (with Hugh Murray) of MOLA, said it was “devastating” to find themselves in this position. “There was a sense of inevitability about it, with nothing coming in and then not being paid for work we had done. You can only keep going for so long on that basis. Contractors, too, are on the edges of liquidity.”

That a firm of MOLA’s high calibre and experience should fall by the wayside was greeted with shock and dismay by fellow architects. “They didn’t deserve this,” one of them said. “It’s a very sad day for the architectural profession in Ireland.”

And he warned that many others could go the same way in the coming months.

“Armageddon is upon us,” he said. “What we’re looking at now is the devastation of Ireland’s building industry and its associated professions. We could see many, many building, architectural and engineering firms disappear off the face of the earth unless there is a radical rethink about the allocation of resources.”

The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) estimates that half of its members are unemployed. Since the start of the credit crunch, many practices have had to lay off staff to stay in business, and this has become progressively more difficult as the recession deepens and the work dries up.

As RIAI president Paul Keogh noted in his inaugural address last month, “there are scarcely any new commissions, forward planning has come to a standstill, existing projects have been deferred indefinitely and the public tenders website is virtually blank”; the private sector, of course, is out of the picture.

Nobody believes the €579 million allocated for the school building programme this year will actually be spent, despite the obvious need for more and better schools. “It’s not happening and it won’t happen either because of bureaucratic inefficiency or, more likely, intervention by the mandarins,” one architect commented.

“The reality is that this process of winding down public expenditure on schools, healthcare centres and other much-needed social facilities is going to continue even while the Government is committing sums of money beyond our wildest imaginations to prop up the zombie banks. What is it for Anglo Irish alone – eight or nine billion euro?”

He said this was only happening because “there is an entirely different frame of reference in terms of figures” when it comes to saving the banks compared to, say, allocating funds to build schools. “There’s a major problem in our society and this will continue unless there is a serious rethink of Government policy and priorities.”

Another architect warned that if the situation facing construction industry professionals doesn’t improve within the next six months, “we’ll be folding our tents”. Even some of the larger firms are worried because much of their current work involves completing major projects and there is very little, if any, coming in.

“There’s a horror landscape out there,” Seán Ó Laoire said
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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby urbanisto » Mon Mar 29, 2010 2:17 pm

It makes for very grim reading. The planning profession is being equally devastated with a significant drop in numbers employed as consultants and a number of well respected firms under threat.
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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby gunter » Mon Mar 29, 2010 2:34 pm

I hope my memory isn't faulty on this, but I recall Murray O'Laoire as being one of the few firms that gave direction to Irish architecture back in the late 80s and early 90s.

When most of the trendy new practices were dabbling in post-modernism [UCD shite we used to call it] and the stoggy old stalwarts like STW were still churning out unreconctructed modernism as if nothing was wrong, down in Limerick Murray O'Laoire were coming out with some confident contemporary buildings that showed there was another way.

Image

That tourist office on Arthur's Quay and to a slightly lesser extent the visitor centre at King John's Castle represented a bit of a breach in the walls that most of the Group 91ers then quickly poured through.

As I said, my memory could be a bit faulty on this, but that's the way I remenber it.
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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby teak » Mon Mar 29, 2010 6:40 pm

I run my own sole tradership, although for how long is anyone's guess.

ONQ,

Does this means what it says - that your practice is set up as a sole tradership ?
I ask as I'd have thought that a limited company (with wife/brother/old accountant friend as second director) would be more advantageous - in both good and bad times.
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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby Solo » Tue Mar 30, 2010 2:35 am

The loss of the number of high profile practices is a loss to architecture in general. It stems from I think imprudent business practices and allowing clients to run up too large a bill. I know it was an easy trap to fall into and our banks and government all pushed for more and more. There will be other casualties of that I have no doubt.
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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby missarchi » Tue Mar 30, 2010 7:36 am

Solo wrote:The loss of the number of high profile practices is a loss to architecture in general. It stems from I think imprudent business practices and allowing clients to run up too large a bill. I know it was an easy trap to fall into and our banks and government all pushed for more and more. There will be other casualties of that I have no doubt.


This is why I argued fees be paid via the RIAI if techs can join the ranks.
Architects union? or is everything developer lead?
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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby onq » Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:45 pm

teak wrote:I run my own sole tradership, although for how long is anyone's guess.

ONQ,

Does this means what it says - that your practice is set up as a sole tradership ?
I ask as I'd have thought that a limited company (with wife/brother/old accountant friend as second director) would be more advantageous - in both good and bad times.


It means exactly what it says on the tin Teak.

When I set it up in 1993 there was a more onerous audit regime for small companies.

I think we were audited twice and passed both times with flying colours, but the additional cost for companies was quite high IIRC.

I think the audit threshold was raised in recent years to quite dizzy heights of turnover - 2/300,000 Euro IIRC? - so now things might be different.

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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby onq » Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:48 pm

gunter wrote:I hope my memory isn't faulty on this, but I recall Murray O'Laoire as being one of the few firms that gave direction to Irish architecture back in the late 80s and early 90s.

When most of the trendy new practices were dabbling in post-modernism [UCD shite we used to call it] and the stoggy old stalwarts like STW were still churning out unreconctructed modernism as if nothing was wrong, down in Limerick Murray O'Laoire were coming out with some confident contemporary buildings that showed there was another way.

Image

That tourist office on Arthur's Quay and to a slightly lesser extent the visitor centre at King John's Castle represented a bit of a breach in the walls that most of the Group 91ers then quickly poured through.

As I said, my memory could be a bit faulty on this, but that's the way I remenber it.


Nope, that's my memory too.

Endless graph paper designs by STW were blown away by MOL,.

But that seemed to prompt STW to better things like the intervention in the Civic Offices, which some hate, but I think is one of their best buildings, with the ships prow motif and the internal courtyards and "bridges".

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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby onq » Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:50 pm

missarchi wrote:This is why I argued fees be paid via the RIAI if techs can join the ranks.
Architects union? or is everything developer lead?


I must be missing something here.

Why would fees be paid through a private body like the RIAI?

Why would technician membership be a material issue in such a situation?

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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby onq » Wed Mar 31, 2010 8:57 pm

wearnicehats wrote:
“Armageddon is upon us...

"What we’re looking at now is the devastation of Ireland’s building industry and its associated professions..."

“There’s a horror landscape out there....”


Look at the positive side.

Err...

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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby jesus_o_murchu » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:29 pm

The close timing of the MOLA liquidation and nama bank bailout is quite disturbing. the former event signals the loss of one of the most talented, ambitious and progressive firm of architects that the country has ever seen. the latter event copperfastens the enfeebling of the irish economy over the next few decades and the impoverishment of highly skilled professionals across the private sector. Let the brain drain begin...
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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby onq » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:41 pm

jesus_o_murchu wrote:The close timing of the MOLA liquidation and nama bank bailout is quite disturbing. the former event signals the loss of one of the most talented, ambitious and progressive firm of architects that the country has ever seen. the latter event copperfastens the enfeebling of the irish economy over the next few decades and the impoverishment of highly skilled professionals across the private sector. Let the brain drain begin...


There may be some escape route for younger people with excellent 3D and Revit skills, but for older executives and senior partners I think it will be more difficult to find work abroad.

Unless people are willing to work and settle down in far flung places like China and Australia, there is little hope and in Oz once you're over 45 you cannot apply to settle there permanently.

Similarly the larger practices on the East Coast of America are intent in keeping their people in work themselves in the face of a construction industry slowdown.

Some of the brightest and best may get places, but few enough even of those.

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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby onq » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:45 pm

Speaking of the architects of this disaster, Charlie Bird on the 9 o'clock news was seen hollering through David Drumm's millionaire's door over in the States.

Apparently it was bought in 2007 and declared a "Homestead" in 2009, meaning its a sole domicle and protected up to 500,000 dollars against any claims against it.

And the current chief executive of Anglo has apparently provided for writing off 80% of the monies owed to it by its former directors.

I hope MOL partners are as well looked after.

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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby teak » Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:35 pm

I think the mandatory audit threshold was raised in recent years to quite dizzy heights of turnover - 2/300,000 Euro IIRC? - so now things might be different.

Yes.
For 12 years or so it's been £250,000 or €317,434.

But my point was that allowances (e.g. civil service milage on cars owned by users) and taxes (at 12.5% on any profits versus the income tax rates 20%/41%) are better as a ltd co.
And neither can creditors come after the personal property of the proprietors.
I have heard it said that there may be advantages in starting as a sole trader if you want to claim VAT back on building work done on the premises leased.

Sorry for going off-topic.
Frankly, as a layman often looking at Mr Murray's buildings, I will not be too sad to see a reduction in the amount of skyline annually granted to him.
I find many of his larger buildings cold from the outside. The Clarion Hotel looks tacky.
Several having clichéd motifs, e.g. the castellated motif so common in many of the new blocks in Limerick city -- though it is a fault shared by many other new blocks there, e.g. some of the newer car-parks in Limerick even have corner towers in them.
I can't make the same accusation at some of the jobs done by Mr Bingham.
I'd see him as a real loss, despite his preference for more horizontal aspect development.

Someone in an old thread said that a practice needs to be so big or so financed before it may present designs for public sector buildings.
If this is so then surely it militates against the young architects in their 20s who have the idealism, freshness of mind and energy to come up with novel designs -- and also the time to recover from the strains of failure.
It also discriminates against those experienced but small practices who could well have very worthy proposals for certain projects.
Is this not something that your RIAI (pushed by its members, naturally) would address ?
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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby onq » Thu Apr 01, 2010 1:32 pm

teak wrote:I think the mandatory audit threshold was raised in recent years to quite dizzy heights of turnover - 2/300,000 Euro IIRC? - so now things might be different.

Yes.
For 12 years or so it's been £250,000 or €317,434.

But my point was that allowances (e.g. civil service milage on cars owned by users) and taxes (at 12.5% on any profits versus the income tax rates 20%/41%) are better as a ltd co.
And neither can creditors come after the personal property of the proprietors.
I have heard it said that there may be advantages in starting as a sole trader if you want to claim VAT back on building work done on the premises leased.

Sorry for going off-topic.


Not at all and thanks for the heads up - I hope to talk to my accountants next week and we'll discuss all this :)
Frankly, as a layman often looking at Mr Murray's buildings, I will not be too sad to see a reduction in the amount of skyline annually granted to him.
I find many of his larger buildings cold from the outside. The Clarion Hotel looks tacky.
Several having clichéd motifs, e.g. the castellated motif so common in many of the new blocks in Limerick city -- though it is a fault shared by many other new blocks there, e.g. some of the newer car-parks in Limerick even have corner towers in them.
I can't make the same accusation at some of the jobs done by Mr Bingham.
I'd see him as a real loss, despite his preference for more horizontal aspect development.

Is that Ralph Bingham?
Yep, he was one of the best of my comtemporaries - nice guy too.
Someone in an old thread said that a practice needs to be so big or so financed before it may present designs for public sector buildings.

Circa €250,000k in turnover IIRC
If this is so then surely it militates against the young architects in their 20s who have the idealism, freshness of mind and energy to come up with novel designs -- and also the time to recover from the strains of failure.
It also discriminates against those experienced but small practices who could well have very worthy proposals for certain projects.
Is this not something that your RIAI (pushed by its members, naturally) would address ?


MY RIAI?
I'm not yet registered, never mind a Member of the Institute.

I'm not sure of the RIAI's position on the public sector work, but I'd say its hardening.
The subject arose in this thread in a very negative way suggesting the government, having instroduced the front loaded GCCC contracts are now simply not paying people for work done and not scheduling new work with approved budgets to come online.

Its abuse on top of injury from a government in a state that saw Anglo Execs got pay rises and the top level Civil Servants weren't docked proportionally.
I won't go so far as to call Cowan a traitor to this country as Eamon Gilmore did, but I find myself looking crooked at him more and more as this train wreck continues.

RIght now it seems that the only forward momentum is the ongoing crashing rail cars and after this stops there will be an unholy mess to wade through.
Then the courts will jam up as people simply cannot pay their bills and judgements are sought against them.
We are Donald Ducked, and there is no bolt hole to run to like there was in previous recessions.

Even Australia is looking very dodgy at the moment, with jobs for 3D desk jockeys but few senior people, whereas in the Middle East they're looking for senior project architect so finish off high tech jobs for relatively low money.

Reading between the lines:
- in Oz they are trying to win work with high tech presentations.
- in the Middle East, they are trying to get people back to finish out jobs on site.
- in several areas they are looking for experienced people to work on large scale hospitals.

Seeking Work, FInishing Work, Government Work - the private sector is running on empty Worldwide.
A few Star Architects are getting work - that's about it - good luck ot them.

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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby teak » Thu Apr 01, 2010 8:59 pm

I won't suggest changing career direction into fire specifications consultancy or interior design.
The investment of time, work - for some, love too - into a profession demands that these skills are applied as they ought be.

All I can suggest is renovation work driven by insulation grants and fuel savings, the the old Pat Kenny Show no-brainer idea.

Insulation will only take one so far in energy minimisation.
To get maximum benefits some redesign is also needed to the layout of many homes.
And, God knows, so many of these old houses were never designed in any proper sense at all.

It has also become clear to me lately that a some architects have a far surer touch with the outlines of landscaping a house than many of the professional landscape gardeners.
It's terrible to see a new house built in the countryide and the ground around it left in a mess of cultivars and exotics selected from the local garden centre -- which naturally makes a far greater margin on these garish intruders than on our native species.
With present landscaping "guidances" tending to become regulatory across all councils soon, I'd expect more involvement from the architects on this aspect of development.
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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby dermot_trellis » Sat Apr 03, 2010 2:15 pm

Sean O' Laoire was on the Marian Finucane show this morning - playback available here:
http://www.rte.ie/radio1/marianfinucane/
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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby CologneMike » Sat Apr 03, 2010 7:48 pm

After reading Frank McDonald’s article on Thursday, which had a touch of an obituary about it. That Marion Finucane interview with Sean O’Laoire was uplifting, especially after this weeks depressing NAMA / Banking bill was presented to the nation. These guys are maybe down but not out!

Two things impress me, firstly a drive to do business anywhere from the west of Ireland to Moscow. :cool: There is a big European market out there. Secondly from my home town perspective, they have played their part in turning Limerick city’s arse, to face the river.

Like the Steamboat Quay, Clarion Hotel & Restaurant Pavilion, Arthurs Quay Park & Tourist Information Office, Potato Market, Limerick County Circuit Court, King John’s Castle Visitor's Centre.

Architects' contribution must be recognised (Irish Times)

FRANK McDONALD

The Government needs to take the crisis in architecture seriously if more liquidations are to be avoided

SEÁN Ó Laoire has been a friend of mine for many years. His father Dónal was my Irish teacher at St Vincent’s CBS in Glasnevin, and his uncle Frank taught us geography there. I also know Hugh Murray well. So it was a terrible shock for me personally when the architectural practice they founded in 1979 went into liquidation last Friday.

Murray Ó Laoire Architects (MÓLA) started not in Dublin, but in poor benighted Limerick. Hugh and Seán became the city’s bright boys, and livened it up with projects such as the restoration of the Potato Market, a new pedestrian bridge over the Abbey river, and the gutsy visitor centre at King John’s Castle that everyone loved to hate.

Working with Jim Barrett, who had made himself de facto city architect, MÓLA put Limerick back on the map with an eye-catching contemporary tourist information office and civic park on a vacant site at Arthur’s Quay – part of a vision, now largely realised, of providing a continuous pedestrian route on the city side of the river Shannon.

Later projects in and around the city included Limerick Regional Hospital, Thomond Village student housing at UL, the Clarion Hotel “skyscraper”, the new terminal at Shannon airport, the sensitively renovated courthouse, the Tailteann sports hall at Mary Immaculate College and, of course, Thomond Park – cauldron of Munster Rugby.

Cork also benefited from MÓLA’s renovation of its opera house, which at least partly made up for Michael Scott’s blanking the river Lee, and the CIT School of Music, one of the few examples of a public-private partnership project that really worked. And Galway got fine new buildings at GMIT as well as the Bon Secours private hospital.

Back in 1994, MÓLA blazed a trail for environmental sustainability with the Green Building in Temple Bar – even though it didn’t all quite work out as planned. By then, it had opened an office in Moscow, during the rip-roaring era of Boris Yeltsin. This was to be the first of several overseas offices – more were opened in Aachen, Abu Dhabi, Barbados and Bratislava.

The practice represented Ireland at the Hanover Expo in 2000 with a pavilion described as “classy and sophisticated” by Wallpaper magazine. Its largest single project abroad was the Eurovea complex on the banks of the Danube in Bratislava, capital of Slovakia, designed for Ballymore Properties; the first phase is to open at the end of April.

One of its most controversial projects at home was the development of previously untouched Carton Demesne in Co Kildare as a golf resort, with a luxury hotel linked to the country seat of the dukes of Leinster and numerous villas around the 18th century parkland. It typified the sort of compromises architects made during the boom.

But whether it was a commercial project such as Athlone Town Centre, schemes for third-level institutions such as TCD’s student housing in Dartry, or the UCD Students’ Union in Belfield, MÓLA’s work was always characterised by humanity, idealism and even a touch of irreverence. It also won numerous awards, including an RIAI (Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland) gold medal.

Nobody who was there will ever forget Seán Ó Laoire’s lecture on the theme Building on the Edge of Europe – heroically delivered in French – at L’Imaginaire Irlandais, the cultural festival in Paris in 1996; he couldn’t have imagined that, just 10 years later, the price per square metre of housing in Dublin would be dearer than in the French capital.

Ó Laoire was nauseated by the excesses of the boom – the formless housing and big-box retailing shovelled into fields at the edges of towns and villages, the countryside colonised by vulgar mansions, and so on. “It’s the antithesis of what I believe it could be, but the potential of the place is what keeps me going,” he said in 2007.

Not long before that, much to his own astonishment, MÓLA had employed up to 250 staff drawn from so many countries that its Fumbally Court atelier in the Liberties was a real melting pot. Contraction became inevitable when the credit crunch struck in 2008 and the recession hit. When the end came, there were 127 on the payroll.

“All of these people contributed to the betterment of Irish society in many ways, designing schools, hospitals and residential buildings at a level that competed with the highest standards abroad,” one leading architect commented. “It’s a real tragedy that they’ve found themselves in the situation they are in today – on the dole.”

The Government needs to take this seriously, if more liquidations are to be avoided in architectural practices where principals often go without pay to keep their business going. For a start, it must ensure that public bodies pay bills promptly, instead of leaving those who provide services hanging on for months before they receive payment.

Ciarán Cuffe, an architect himself, must know how bleak things are. As Minister of State for planning, he will be expected to advance projects that have some chance of sustaining architects and other construction industry professionals in employment. Why should only accountants, lawyers and estate agents be engaged by Nama?

The Society of the Irish Motor Industry, which is, after all, merely an association of dealers in imported cars, managed to get the Government to save its bacon with the latest scrappage scheme.

At least architects make a real contribution to society, and the RIAI needs to spell that out more forcefully.
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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby onq » Sun Apr 04, 2010 12:20 am

teak wrote:I won't suggest changing career direction into fire specifications consultancy or interior design.
The investment of time, work - for some, love too - into a profession demands that these skills are applied as they ought be.

All I can suggest is renovation work driven by insulation grants and fuel savings, the the old Pat Kenny Show no-brainer idea.

Insulation will only take one so far in energy minimisation.
To get maximum benefits some redesign is also needed to the layout of many homes.
And, God knows, so many of these old houses were never designed in any proper sense at all.

It has also become clear to me lately that a some architects have a far surer touch with the outlines of landscaping a house than many of the professional landscape gardeners.
It's terrible to see a new house built in the countryide and the ground around it left in a mess of cultivars and exotics selected from the local garden centre -- which naturally makes a far greater margin on these garish intruders than on our native species.
With present landscaping "guidances" tending to become regulatory across all councils soon, I'd expect more involvement from the architects on this aspect of development.


Well, teak,

Thanks for taking the time to make the suggestions and I'm sure there are many readers of thsi forum who will thanks you too.
Any positive or helpful comments are welcome at a time like this.
We've already developed a degree of expertise in terms of
  • Fire Certs
  • Planning appeals
  • Legal and conveyancing work.

My wife is a qualified interior designer who has worked in Paris and London.

All of these jobs are few and far between right now and the fees are relatively poor for the work done.
We alreayd have to high court actions on at the moment, but getting an interim payment on either is almost impossible withotu suing the client.

We'll keep the head down, keep talking to people and look at our options.

Thanks again for the comments.

ONQ.
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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby Bren88 » Wed Apr 07, 2010 6:25 am

CologneMike wrote:After reading Frank McDonald’s article on Thursday, which had a touch of an obituary about it. That Marion Finucane interview with Sean O’Laoire was uplifting, especially after this weeks depressing NAMA / Banking bill was presented to the nation. These guys are maybe down but not out!

Two things impress me, firstly a drive to do business anywhere from the west of Ireland to Moscow. :cool: There is a big European market out there. Secondly from my home town perspective, they have played their part in turning Limerick city’s arse, to face the river.

Like the Steamboat Quay, Clarion Hotel & Restaurant Pavilion, Arthurs Quay Park & Tourist Information Office, Potato Market, Limerick County Circuit Court, King John’s Castle Visitor's Centre.


The article is right, staff were at least 250 two years ago. I only recently heard it was 127 at the drop, seams right with the level of redundancy in the market.

You also left out of of there more famous buildings in limerick, or is it a structure ;)
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Re: Murray O'Laoire

Postby Devin » Wed Apr 07, 2010 8:51 am

CologneMike wrote:That Marion Finucane interview with
You simultaneously accorded her importance and dissed her there by embolding her name but spelling it wrong ;)
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