Shopfront race to the bottom

Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Sun Apr 11, 2010 10:56 pm

Ah Golden Pilasters. There's a breakfast cereal in that yet!

Part of another 1960s-era shop front survives nearby. This contemporary snapshot of what looks to be a southside shop front, with a thin veneer of po-faced, applique neoclassicim characteristic of the swashbuckling early Haughey Dublin, seems like Switzers.

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So it was. One would imagine that all of this would be long removed following the onslaught of Marks and Spencer, but not entirely so. A little fragment of the ensemble survives on Duke Lane.

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The surviving vent underneath the above panel suggests this is the same elevation as depicted in the above newsreel shot. The Ionic-columned entrance, complete with uniformed doorman, as barely evident to the extreme left in the first picture, has since vanished. I'd often wondered if Duke Lane was once much more prominent than it is now - would that be the case? If the Grafton Arcade was around back then, it would explain matters.

Perhaps the architect of the above lived out in Rathmines. The arch-headed panels are vagurely reminicent of that curious pair of iced Victorian houses off Mountpleasant Avenue :)

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby KerryBog2 » Tue Apr 13, 2010 11:19 am

gunter wrote:
Just on that white horse,

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Is that one of those 'protestant' white horses, I wonder? [as discussed of the 'Billy' thread a good while back]


Missed that horse bit in the Billy thread, but I think that it might be a Hutschenreuther horse; that business was famouse for its glazed horses and was bought out by Rosenthal in 2000.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby cheezypuf » Wed Apr 21, 2010 12:09 am

The reason for the closure of the store is not entirely clear


I’m glad someone has a sense of humour. Have you ever been inside West’s? In fact, has anyone ever been inside West’s? Retailing on Graton Street has changed a little in the last 50 years. A jewellers with a locked door in to which prospective customers cannot see, fronted by a dated aluminium pastiche exterior is doomed to failure. My only surprise is that it made it this far.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Devin » Wed May 12, 2010 11:46 am

Peats Electronics have had their "temporary" shop sign on the landmark Pen Corner building on Dame Street for more than a year now. A slap-it-up-on-a-Friday-afternoon job, still there a year later.

Shouldn't DCC be taking a proactive stance to uphold the quality of the city centre, rather than just wait 'til such time as someone makes a complaint about something like this, with the drawn out planning enforcement process following, and inevitable playing for time behaviour of offendees? ........ seems crazy that buildings can just have this done to them for an ongoing period of time ... in what is supposedly a major European city.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Devin » Wed May 12, 2010 12:06 pm

Just to clarify, it says temporary sign in the bottom right:
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby PVC King » Wed May 12, 2010 12:11 pm

With that level of carpentry they might as well have chiseled the words 'temporary building' into the corbel it is chased around. Ordinarliy I'm not fussed on signage but this building if it were cleaned could be a real trophy asset and once this sign gets retention by the effluxion of time you'll never see the back of it.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby johnglas » Wed May 12, 2010 11:24 pm

You just have to face up to the fact you have a naff planning department; I'd love to hear one of them defending their record. 'Temporary' should mean about six weeks.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Thu May 13, 2010 12:16 am

Dammit Devin! I was hoping this one would beat a record at some point - now it just may be prompted to come down (even if in the next decade or two). It beggars belief this yoke has sat here for so long without anyone in authority so much as batting an eyelid - indeed, as far as I can remember it has been here for close on two years at this stage.

And not only that, the tatty newsagents next door has all manner of non-compliant clutter and 'attendant features' about its frontage, including LED strips around the doorway that beat the best efforts of Korean restaurants on Parnell Street, while right next door on the other side, as we speak, there is lurid pink signage being erected on what is one of the last historic shop fronts in this part city, on College Green, on a Protected Structure. A particular delight is the mammoth sheet of perspex that has been siliconed in in place of the plate glass, and this is before the internal signage, postering and sandwich board for the milkshake-making occupant arrives to decorate the windows.

Without question it is the appalling standards of planning enforcement along Dame Street that is causing this shoddy presentation to spread like a cancer through the so-called 'Grand Civic Throughfare'. The chic, if inappropriately historic-styled new shop front of Le Circ further up the street has just been modified barely a year after it was installed, once a deep and sultry aqua-marine blue, now painted lurid pillar box red, with salvaged two-over-two sash windows stuck into it! Kitty's Cottage comes to Dame Street! Likewise, the beautiful turreted sandstone building on the corner of Grafton Street has a shop unit on the ground floor that has gone through three different uses in the space of a year, including an application for a café that sadly never went ahead. Now it's a cheapo travel agents if I remember right, with nasty primary colours used on its nasty boxy timber inserts in the pointed gothic opes.

It's all just getting way out of hand. Still nothing has happened with the totally non-compliant frontage of Spar in the Burton building, nor with yet another Asian restaurant that has opened across the road with a totally illegal stone-clad fascia and shop front that can be seen from outer space, nor the horrific newsagents that has morphed into an Indian restaurant across the road from Dublin Castle... nor nor... it just goes on and on.

Not only does enforcement has to be stepped up, but legislation just has to be streamlined. The court-based system doesn't work. Local authorities should be able to issue fines on a time period basis - as long as your non-compliant works stay in place, the more you continue to pay. It's the only thing that does work.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Devin » Fri Jun 18, 2010 3:39 pm

The Planning Enforcement system in Dublin is not working. There is something deeply wrong, because there is a planning enforcement system but it is not working.



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As documented earlier in the thread, this Spar(left), in a sensitive location opposite the seventeenth-century St. Mary's Church (now pub), had put up plastic box signs on the shop fascia when it opened in 2006, which are contrary to section 15.32.4 of development plan. A complaint was lodged at the time, but the signs were still there when it shut recently. And now it's been replaced by some homemade paddy-ass version (right) which is using the same unauthorised box-signs on the fascia, except bigger.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Smithfield Resi » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:17 pm

Of course these abuses of the system only occur where grubby greed and materialism come into it. I'm delighted that we have organisations that put protected structures to reuse and preserve and enhance their character as part of their day to day operations. I took a stroll past one of them today just to admire the grace with which they are conducting their strategic vision of ‘Create ambassadors to promote Dublin as a must-visit destination’.

Of course one must understand how they are funded. Very well it seems.

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Nice brass..of course this isn't really enough to ensure everyone sees what they are at...time for a sign..

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or two...

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Now...to attract in the crowds we had better tell them what we do. After all the name Tourist Information and two small signs isn't going to tell them...

What do we have? We have......

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Information!! That's right. Information. And Stuff. Lots of Stuff.

Oh - we had better tell them about the Stuff. Yes, the Stuff. Just in case they don't come in. And we have those signs CIE gave us.

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and this Stuff

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Of course ... these are a bit small, and behind our railings. Soooo... we've been thinking. Outside the Box. Like Ann Riordan, our chair. We are going to rethink the paradim! Yeah! With CorriBoard! And Railings!! Come see our INFORMATION!!!!!! Yeah!!

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Oh.

That looks....

a bit like we are selling GAA tickets...we need to tell them more then! "Tell them, they will come...."

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Now step back admire the effect!

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Wonderful. They will come. They will come...

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Smithfield Resi » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:51 pm

Just wrote a long analysis of why I am so disgusted with Dublin Tourism - including four citations where they have been expressly barred from erecting advertising on this structure. When I think of the amount of effort I put into enforcement.. :mad: ..(blood boiling...)

However Microsoft Internet Explorer has just crashed on me twice now...losing content...that I am beginning to think that it might have something to do with Dublin Tourisms Chair!! (Google it)

In the meantime - when you get this ^^^ being done by state bodies; is it ANY suprise that we get this on Grafton St....

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Smithfield Resi » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:54 pm

By the way if anyone has pics of Dublin Tourism pre signage (with dates if possible) please post here...
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Tue Jul 06, 2010 12:16 am

I don't mind the self-contained glass display units on the inner wall of the arcade. They don't interfere with the design integrity of the church on the streetscape, while (in theory) allowing for a minimal street presence for the occupant. Alas, they appear to be used as little more than advertising revenue generators, rather than serving as objective information panels. Which comes as no surprise. The railing panels are an abomination. Which also comes as no surprise from Dublin Tourism. I invite anyone to go inside and take on the daunting challenge of finding out a scrap of information about the city. You might as well be walking into Carroll's of Westmoreland Street. An absolute scandal. The place exists to line the pockets of its concessions and to tell tourists how to get out of the city. But everyone has known this for years - no point wasting breath on it.

Over on Dawson Street, the former Costa premises has finally been replaced by another, higher class, coffee outfit. Priding themselves on a quality product and a quality service, this place has admirable notions, if not quite in relation to the planning process. Incredibly, unbelievably, in spite of the fuss surrounding the previous occupant and the refusal of permission for all of their external clutter, this operator hasn't applied for planning permission either!

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Yes their signage is more muted, better designed, and their various accoutrements less obtrusive, but planning is planning. After many months of preparing and fitting out this store, it is truly remarkable they have not seen fit to apply for permission for their external alterations. And for what it's worth, while their new signage is a decent stab at a fresh statement, at the end of the day, a sticky-up board frankly is not of sufficient design standard for this supposedly prestigious retail area. Not from a prissy conservation standpoint, but from a good design standpoint. A sign mounted on such a large expanse of wall demands a high relief, sculptural quality - not a laser-cut. flat-pack solution. Standards in this area of the city - deserving of a thread of its own - have been plmutting through the floor in recent years. Like the rest of the city centre, it's getting close to a free-for-all out there, with nobody steering the ship.

Inside, the flooring is just exquisite - beautiful tiles set in panels of dark timber. What a striking combination.

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Similarly, the ceilings are fresh and elegant, the lighting sharp and the counter set-up innovative.

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Less successful are the overly high partition walls clad in lavatory-like mosaic. They lend a clinical quality to the room, while obliterating one of the principal activities conducted in coffee places - watching other people buy coffee, and the frenetic activity that comes with it. Especially on a Sunday - what modicum of life that stirs in the place is hidden. Not good for the image. The mosaic is also too busy, clashing with the already frenzied floor. Timber would have been nicer.

It'll be interesting to see how the place trades anyway. The service is superb, the coffee the second best in Dublin, and the rocky roads even better than the surface of Dawson Street.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby gunter » Tue Jul 06, 2010 12:55 am

GrahamH wrote:. . . . and the coffee the second best in Dublin,


I bet it's not Centra?
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Tue Jul 06, 2010 1:09 am

Exposed again :o

:p
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:41 am

26/8/2010

A recent flurry of improving works involving a number of properties around the city centre in recent weeks and months has served as a potent example of what can be achieved with a lick of paint - even if in some cases it has worked to questionable effect. The summer months really do seem to bring out the industrious spirit in people.

One of the largest scaffolds erected in Dublin on an existing building in recent years dominated the centre of Dame Street for much of the summer.

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The building at the junction of Dame Street and South Great George’s Street got a much needed sprucing up after decades of neglect, as with countless historic properties in the city centre.

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The final stretch of a Wide Streets Commission terrace dating to the 1780s, adorned with Victorian stucco adornments, the Mercantile Hotel presented a grim aspect to Dame Street with a grubby white façade accented in black – typical of the 1970s.

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The transformation has been nothing short of a breath of fresh air.

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It is like a switch has just been flicked.

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As can be seen, in addition to the main facade, the previously unpainted gable end of the last house - which has remained exposed since the 1930s when the terminating house was demolished to improve the operation of the tram line – has been given decorative treatment for the very first time. While it has lifted matters considerably, it has to be asked if this measure merely consolidates the exposed gable end’s position here for all eternity. Likewise, the once gritty, raw and urban rendered gable hinted at a troubled history – a curious wound on the streetscape. Now it just looks like a mediocre suburban solution to the back arse of a garage. Still, that marvellously handsome chimney stack elevates it beyond the ordinary. And as the precedent for one of Zoe’s Mountjoy Square houses, it can’t be all bad!

A subtle and elegant use of colour.

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The next person that says double-glazed panes don’t alter the appearance of a building can go stick their head under a closing sash.

The beautifully painted new shopfronts. An interesting choice of colour. Nothing inventive going on here (somebody show these guys a Cushman photo or two) but satisfactory nonetheless.

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This of course is one of the most charming shopfronts in Dublin – precisely because it’s not off the shelf. The glittering, hand crafted coves have always been a delight.

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What a difference simple tables and chairs and a few potted trees make, both to an architectural ensemble such as this apse as well as to a wider street.

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We shall be keeping a close eye on these lads. How long shall we give before the novelty wears off, things get battered, banners and canvas railings start appearing, the postering goes up… We’ll give them the benefit of the doubt.

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:45 am

The painting of the ground floor highlights the mismatched nature of the shopfronts. Some unification would be desirable here.

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It also highlights a broader issue: namely that the two distinct properties here really should have been given different decorative treatment, with the five-bay building in the distance being the most cohesive, with elegant shopfronts and good quality stucco to the upper floors. Painting everything the same colours confuses the design intention of the stucco adornments – their very function being to differentiate buildings on the street.

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Rickis on the corner steadfastly refusing to get in on the act of course. Indeed, he went out of his way to advertise his place during works, with naff stickers applied to every conceivable pole around it, and a large sign tacked up around the back of the building which hasn’t come down since. A class act.

Like the flagpole holders. There’s always some addition forgotton during painting!

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There are white uplighter lamps being trialled above the shopfronts at the minute.

The doll’s house rear of the Mercantile on Dame Lane has also been painted.

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Nearby on the corner of Exchequer Street, the corner restaurant has changed hands for at least the third time in as many years. Finally, a beautiful new treatment after a ghastly white scheme applied by the last tenant.

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Pavement barriers are generally highly disagreeable, but in this instance they are understandable at this busy junction. A fine design too.

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These guys know what they’re at.

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Back to Dame Street again and the South Great George’s Street junction. Finished for quite a while now, two of the most prominent eyesores in the city have just been given a lick of paint. Terminating the vista of George’s Street stand this frothy collection assemblage of Victoriana. This is the newly completed paint scheme.

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The right-hand building was not treated as part of the works.

Some before and after shots.

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Fri Aug 27, 2010 12:54 am

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The below picture may need to be refreshed.

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Quite a transformation.

But again the job played it safe with uniform paint colours on two very different buildings (and rare in style in the Dublin context at that), while also failing to tackle structural issues such as the reinstatement of a tripartite sash window on the middle building (where the window is used as an electronic billboard at night) and cabling continues to marr the shopfronts.

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I really want to support the new Centra store and adjacent unit (out of shot) and the design concept behind it, and most of it is indeed successful, but there are issues of odd materials, dodgy proportions and cumbersome lighting units that sadly let the ensemble down for me. Good to see they’re complying with their postering planning conditions and lofty aspirations to upmarket presentation in their application :rolleyes:

Up the road on Lord Edward Street, the oldest building on the thoroughfare was recently refurbished for use by the social services next door. Aside from multiple Victorian doors, architraving and skirting ending up in numerous skips out on the road, things were going swimmingly with a lovely new coat of soft green paint applied to the doors and window of the charming original limestone shopfront.

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Until the lady in charge told the painter she didn’t like it, got him to repaint the entire thing in er…

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“I-a, I-a preferred da aaader color toooo – this is very biiiiight!!” he told me. Listen to your painter missus…

The Legion of Mary comes to Lord Edward Street.

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Pity that clunky fascia didn’t come down; looks like there’s a nice slab of limestone underneath it. Lovely new lettering applied nonetheless.

Nice cleaning of a smart Edwardian over on Exchequer Street.

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No white paint – yay!

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Sultry and sophisticated. Perfect.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Cathal Dunne » Fri Aug 27, 2010 1:00 am

Some good stuff well-documented there, Graham. Great to see Dame St receiving plenty of treatment. It's a fine thoroughfare and the buildings along it should reflect that. Perhaps this is now a case of shopfront race to the top!
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Fri Aug 27, 2010 1:03 am

Not something that can be said of this new job over on Nassau Street.

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Okay, so this really surmises the jist of what this whole post is about. Yes, it’s all very well and good to get on the phone to Peter the Painter and get the windows ‘done’, get the walls ‘done’ and the place ‘cleaned up a bit’. But these buildings are not 79 Glenwood Drive in Knocklyon – they are substantial historic properties on the principal streets of the capital that demand, never mind require, a coordinated design strategy before a paintbrush is even applied. And we must face up to the reality that, far from things having become more sophisticated during the boom years across the board, we have lost huge craft in even the deceptively simple task of painting a building or shopfront. Many firms don’t have clue how to identify a building, never mind its constituent parts, or the colours that may be appropriate for each, or the building as a whole based on its period.

Here we have a totally wasted expense on three buildings that looked better before work ever got underway. The central ebullient building, the former iconic Jammet's restaurant, has effectively been erased of its stucco dressings, while adjacent brick buildings have had yet another thick layer of paint applied over their original facings.

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Above and below are the same view with half a century in between.

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Mercy, the art of the shopfront has been lost…

But the point is, this is an example of funds being misdirected because there are no mechanisims in place like in other cities at municipal level to offer assistance or direction in these matters. Had the substantial money invested in scaffolding, labour and paint been diverted and topped up by a free rotating scaffold by DCC, a small facade improvement grant provided by a lottery fund, and expert advice provided in house by a small DCC architectural team, these properties could have been restored to their full potential. The central bulding could have had an appropriately vigorous paint scheme employed, while the two adjacent buildings could have been stripped of paint and render where possible, the original brick exposed, and appropriate fenestration reinserted.

The brick of the right-hand building survives with apparently fine tuck pointing.

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As for this once fine two-bay house. What a complete mess. These buildings, even with all the will in the world by owners, will never achieve their full potential without the input of the planning authority, and in particular the initiative of the planning authority to identify buildings such as this and take action to address them.

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A dedicated design team is badly needed specifically to tackle the presentation of facades of Dublin’s principal and secondary streets. Let’s even get the main ones right to begin with.

Including St. Stephen’s Green.

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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby StephenC » Fri Aug 27, 2010 10:46 am

The newly renovated Mercantile on Dame Street is a revelation...a really beautiful job, although as you say let down by the corner unit and dare I say the rear wall and fenestration which you see from S.G. Georges Street. In fact the little "space" here is a prime candidate for improvement.

Two other Dame Street properties I would like to see tackled are Mermaid Cafe and Gruel building - given a lively paint job when the restaurant first opened in the 1990s but now increasingly dirty and forlorn looking - and The Pen Corner building - surely one of the outstanding buildings on the street lost beneath a layer of soot and dirt. I imagine were this building to be cleaned it would provide a revelation similar to Govt Building when it was "revealed" to the city in 1990.

A good collection there Graham.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby archipig » Fri Aug 27, 2010 3:49 pm

Sterling work Graham, really excellent. By any chance have you seen the smiles dental clinic on O'Connell St? Some very dodgy signage has been used.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby GrahamH » Fri Aug 27, 2010 3:55 pm

Alas yes archipig :( - and it's unauthorised. They erected beautiful chrome plaques when they first moved in, before promptly taking them down and erecting green tackorama on the columns which kinks as they wrap around them, and another green band over the door. Such a shame. No style.
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby StephenC » Fri Aug 27, 2010 4:42 pm

But you see the place above all the surrounding shite....which is important.

- "Where abouts on O'Connell Street are you?"
- "Beside Ann Summers?"
- "Huh?"
- "The really, loike, old building beside Ann Summers with the bright green pillars"
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Re: Shopfront race to the bottom

Postby Devin » Fri Aug 27, 2010 5:27 pm

That Smiles on O'Connell Street applied for an "external apple-shaped sign to be positioned between the two central columns of the double storey portico" in 2007. They complained that people were having difficulty finding them and that some form of appropriate signage was needed which would be "identifiable, abstract and innovative" and which did not damage the architectural character of the existing building (see planning app. cover letter - http://www.dublincity.ie/AnitePublicDocs/00168789.pdf). They said this sign would be like "the hanging of a lantern from the portico of a fine building."

But the City Council refused it, as they considered it would be "visually obtrusive and inconsistent with the character of the building, and would detract from the setting of the protected structure" - [url=visually obtrusive and inconsistent with the character of the building, and would detract from the setting of the protected structure]3701/07[/url] ...... seemed odd to me given the nature of what was proposed and given the wider fight against the tirade of cheap, rotten design-free shops & signage in the area. If the CC really thought what was proposed was unacceptable, shouldn't the applicant have been encouraged to come back with another design with the building in mind, rather than forcing them down the unauthorised and inevitably poorer-quality signage route in order to stay afloat?
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