National Children's Hospital design

Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby Frank Taylor » Thu Feb 23, 2012 4:13 pm

teak wrote:What a load of rubbish.

They just haven't got the dough for even a small children's hospital, in town or out the suburbs.
And won't have it either for some time to come from what I extract from Dr Reilly's weakly promising tone.
In fact it appears that the money problem has been resolved by means of a stroke. The decision was made to sell the lottery and to allow the new owner to take 50m/year from the proceeds for 20/30yrs for a billion upfront. That's easily enough to fund the hospital.

political war won, funding war won, planning war lost.

Where do we go from here? ABP said they didn't want to just lop a couple of storeys off the top as this would make the hospital dysfunctional.

This case underlines a fundamental problem with the planning system: it cannot balance planning criteria against other public benefits. In this case children will die to protect an unmeasurable, arbitrary and subjective idea of the visual amenity of Dorset Street.

Perhaps the lotto money could be used to resurrect the mountjoy prison move plan and the children's hospital could be built on the old prison site.

Montevetro on Barrow Street is the same height as the proposed children's hospital and adjacent to hundreds of 1 and 2 storey cottages. My arbitrary, subjective and unmeasurable opinion is that these buildings enhance the local amenities in every way and are a net benefit to the locality and the country.

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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby teak » Thu Feb 23, 2012 6:08 pm

In fact it appears that the money problem has been resolved by means of a stroke.

Oh, Frank -- you can't be that innocent.
This was no more an independent planning decision than so many other contrary Bórd Pleanála decisions were.
It is the clearest government-directed decision that I have heard of, and there have been so many.

"Resolving" the funding problem by a suggested bleeding of the lottery just served to give the Dept of Finance another source for the general budget. No way would the lottery cash would be given over to major national social infrastructure by this government or the DoF .
All budgeting in the DoF is now not only zero-based (i.e. is there an absolute need for this item ?) but also, because of our national mess, subject to scrutiny as to the amount, payment means and purchase time : everything being geared to run on our skeletal current revenues, all previewed by the troika. Just like nearly every household budget at the present time, in other words.

Where do we go from here?

If Noel Smyth and the rest of them are serious about this - and not just working a national crisis to the advantage of his own clients and their property assets - then he'll just have to start a general fund-raising effort to get this project started.
Ideally, some site could be agreed so that a good measure of co-location, general site suitability and cost efficiency is obtained.
Then the nation put some of their money where their mouths are.

I see no other economically feasible way.

Clearly a hospital on another site would involve a whole new design.
And a very flexible and ultra-lean design at that.
Just wondering how many architects on this forum would be up for contributing their time and skills gratis to this sort of project . . .
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby Frank Taylor » Thu Feb 23, 2012 8:31 pm

I don't believe that there is a conspiracy between ABP and government so that planning decisions are made secretly by the executive. Maybe this is because I'm naive or maybe it's because I'm sane.

A half billion euro hospital is not going to be built with architect goodwill nixers.Noel Smyth has his own problems now as does Philip Lynch.
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby gunter » Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:31 am

As designed, the proposed Children's Hospital did intrude on the sky-line, that's not in question, but it's a subjective judgement whether that intrusion would be damaging to the visual amenity of the city, or have negative impact on the Gorgian heritage of the city, or whatever the phrase was.

Are the current members of Bord Pleanala actually qualified to make that judgement?

The Mater site presents a huge design challenge, there's no denying that, but personally I thought the architects made a decent attempt to rise to that challenge and although there were clearly some unresolved design issues, I believe the basic design concept was sound and I would like to see them do a Benson+Forsyth on this and turn disaster into triumph with an application of a bit of skill and clear thinking.

The bigger issue for me is that the whole question of an urban location for something like a National Children's Hospital raises its ugly head again with predictable calls for a 'green-field' site, or 'somewhere on the M50'.

Belief in urbanism is at stake here.
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby shadow » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:13 am

Finally some clear air.....

What is astonishing is that in spite of potential concerns, a project of national importance that an Option B was not available should there be a serious problem like planning.

While the issue of density is still to be seriously discussed in Dublin, this scheme was an appalling groundscrapper. Option B should have been at least considered because of the risk associated with the Mater, especially the first time someone did the analytical section or 3d massing diagram which showed the impact of the structure on the buildings, streetscape.

The idea that a National Centre should always be in the centre of Dublin with all its transportation concerns is seriously flawed.

The first question should always be access. Before a single architectural drawing is made a systematic review of all transportation densities would have prioritised access and once overlaid with available or nearby hospital infrastructure. In the absence of such a collocation hospital it may have been wiser to build a complete replacement medical campus with new Children's Hospital and a new Adult Research Hospital. That would free up everyone’s thinking and provide for new solutions.
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby Frank Taylor » Fri Feb 24, 2012 11:39 am

The first question is quality of medical care measured by patient outcomes. Staff/visitor parking is of little importance by comparison.

The access issues were ruled acceptable by ABP. N1 meets N2 meets N3 all with bus/emergency lanes, Drumcondra railway station, future metro station.

I was scared when I heard Philip Lynch on radio state that the city centre was a cul-de-sac and that everything should go outside the M50. It certainly makes sense if you own the land outside the M50 (which Lynch did not). It fits the bertie bowl / aquatic centre / citywest vision of an oil dependent future.

As a matter of interest have any of you seen the state of Temple Street hospital? It hasn't changed much in 40 years - it's a collection of outhouses and portakabins stacked up like a favela with rickety rotting connecting bridges and corridors.
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby StephenC » Fri Feb 24, 2012 12:43 pm

My earlier post never posted....

On the one hand, I welcome the decision because I don't believe that the underlying planning rationale for a such a large and long-term development was flawed. The site is too small and too constrained to accommodate such a squat building without going taller and slimmer. You can see that from the huge bulk proposed. I also made the point that a development such as this, with its national importance and the need to continually develop and renew itself, should be based in a campus, with the potential to expand. This would not have be achieved. I also abhor the ugly and looming effect that the proposed building would have had on the city skyline and on the immediate area...although I appreciate most of us simply pay lip service to the beauty of the Georgian city.

On the otherhand, I think the Board have been very naive to put forward such a simple argument, essentially an aesthetic argument to refuse permission. I think it should have been much more comprehensive. The reference to one of those bland DCC Development Plan objectives "to protect the skyline" is unfortunately. This is a completely subjective interpretation.

Its been very illustrative of the crazed thinking of our upper echelons however, in particular the complete lack of respect for 'planning'. Planning should have been a primary consideration from the outset...rather than a paper exercise to be undertaken at the end of the process.
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby shadow » Fri Feb 24, 2012 1:41 pm

access is about getting the patients there not the staff...... without the patients treatment is kind of redundant
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby Rory W » Sat Feb 25, 2012 12:14 am

Another hospital (of its time) which was built without regard of the skyline. On this fair isle too
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby StephenC » Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:17 pm

Surprise surprise, it emerges that An Bord Pleanala raised concerns about the 'constrained nature' of the Mater site to the hospital development company in pre-planning consultations in Nov 2010.
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby StephenC » Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:19 pm

Hilarious moanfest on the subject of shockin tall buildings on Joeeee Duffy now....
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby Paul Clerkin » Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:41 pm

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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby StephenC » Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:21 pm

The planning process needs 'finessing' now
http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/bre ... king6.html
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby thebig C » Mon Feb 27, 2012 7:29 pm

I was one of those who was never quite convinced about the matter Hospital site. However, having listened to the arguements advanced by qualified medical practicioners about it merits I was in agreement that it should be sited here. Consequently I was shocked at ABPs decision. To judge a building such as this purely on aestetics is absolutely deplorable! I know ABP was formed to eliminate politicians from planning however, there should now be serious questions as to ABPs operations. Have we simply swapped elected politicians with hidden agendas for unelected faceless civil servants whith their own agendas?! That view is reenforced by the staggering lack of any building over 10 floors despite the fact that we have recently emerged from one of the greatest construction booms in European history!

The deal with the hospital itself and how we are to proceed....

Building a smaller hospital on the same site is the nightmare senario. You would have the same problems associated with the site without the benefits of having such a future proofed facility.

The design for this hospital has been laboured over for 10 years now. The building is over 1 million sq ft out of the necessity to have a world class centre for children. Anything less is an appaling compromise.

Its worth mentioning that we have a fairly bad history when it comes to providing future capacity in hospitals. Tallaght Hospital rather notoriously was deemed too small just a few years after completion and after 25 years of planning!! Visit any major hospital in Dublin and you will find their properties are littered with portakabins and other temporary structures as they desperately try to accommodate a myriad of workers!

A smaller hospital will only result in a separate facility being built on a different site 10-15 years later to meet the shortfall in capacity and capability thus making a mockery of the need to centralise into one centre of excellence!

I note that James Reilly has flagged the posibility of the architects conducting some sort of redesign. However, as I understand it the original plans were over 20 floors so, at 16 floors it has already tweaked to lessen the impact on the skyline. There was a limited ammount of outside garden space provided to benefit the patients and visitors...presumably this would be completly covered in any attempt to lower the buildings height and bulk. A true groundscraper!!

As it is, this is such a technologically advanced building in form construction materials and function that even a redesign would cost alot of time and money. Therefore, there are only two realistic options...:

Over-rule ABP by way of passing a law to permit the construction of the current building on the current site. Or, simply build thie existing proposal on a greenfield site! Both options have drawbacks, but any reduction in the standard or volume of of the building is a worse vista!

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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby Frank Taylor » Wed Feb 29, 2012 2:30 am

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ire ... 24371.html
children's hospital to be scaled back to avoid impairment of historic views from Mountjoy exercise yard

Relief was expressed outside the historic Big Tree alcohol interpretative centre which had risked overshadowing and serious harm to its artistic endeavours.

Image

The planners have managed to protect Fay's Dancing Shoes from the menace of a tall building across the street.

Image

No to mention WE BUY GOLD, whose aesthetic integrity was under threat.
Image

Who needs a grandiose children's hospital anyway? Sure what have children ever done for us?
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby thebig C » Wed Feb 29, 2012 10:51 pm

Frank....goood photographic post...the point is very well made.

IMO, as I stated in my previous post a scaled back hospital is the nightmare senario. It will be a monument to stupidity if they proceed with a less capable hospital.

I noticed James Nix ( who was An Taisces representative in this whole mess) had an article in The Times, in which he suggested the " Heuston Gate" as a potential venue for a 8 Storey Hospital with the same floor space (albeit with 12000sqm floor plates!!!!). At face value it seems to have merit until you consider the implications.......

The Heuston Gate development site including a very fine 32 storey building by Paul Keogh, presumably still has planning permission. Siting a new 8 storey Childrens Hospital here would effectively torpedo any chance of this tower being built. If it were to be built at 117m it would set a new benchmark for height and scale in the city rather then the 60m/16 stories that is Liberty Hall! That would be a nightmare outcome of the anti-highrise brigade.

So it seems that they are not content to destroy one highrise proposal by rejecting a Childrens Hospital....now they want to destroy another highrise proposal precisely by building another Childrens Hospital. The disingenuousness and fanatacism of these people is staggering!!

I note some posters above are talking about ABP and the Government conspiring to contrive this decision. Well, a far more plausable conspiracy involves ABP, An Taisce and the usual suspects deliberately refusing the proposed Childrens Hospital to end once and for all any idea of building tall in Dublin. Its having the desired effect. Already several commentators in the media were reporting on the new Liberty Hall proposal and commenting "Well, if An Bord Pleanala refused a childrens Hospital because it was too high they will never allow this"!! Rest assured all State building projects will have taken note and will opt for lower buildings just for an easy life!

Rather predictably, all of the attention focused on the Political side of this debacle, there was no light shone into the dark agenda ridden unelected recesses of An Bord Pleanala.

C
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby Service charge » Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:18 am

Why can't we look at sites beside the mater for the required space?

Hardwicke st flats are ripe for bulldozing and the tenants could easily be rehoused by Nama in better standard then they currently have. That would free up plenty of space and allow this part of the city to be transformed and returned to some of the grandeur it was accustomed to originally.

For instance the mater private could be moved to Hardwicke St, freeing up much needed space for the NCH. I'm sure some interesting proposal could be created for linking the mater site with Hardwick St with the maternity hospital and/or labs being house there while the rest in put on the current site?

Or the carpark could be moved to Hardwicke st, it would have to a bloody good looking car park tho!
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby gunter » Thu Mar 01, 2012 1:43 am

thebig C wrote:Rather predictably, all of the attention focused on the Political side of this debacle, there was no light shone into the dark agenda ridden unelected recesses of An Bord Pleanala.


The debate, if you'd even call it that, has been dominated by the political angle, I think that's true, with a few conspiracy theories thrown into the mix as befitts the state of paranoia that we're in [present company excepted], but what it hasn't been about is aesthetics, and it is a judgement about aesthetics that essentially killed the National Children's Hospital.

It doesn't matter what light you shine on Bord Pleanala, you're still going to find a board that has no aesthetic training, a board that consists of one town planner, two civil engineers and a chemical engineer. I wouldn't ask these people to judge a national children's art competition.
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby missarchi » Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:14 pm

So its dead?
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby thebig C » Thu Mar 01, 2012 12:27 pm

gunter wrote:
thebig C wrote:Rather predictably, all of the attention focused on the Political side of this debacle, there was no light shone into the dark agenda ridden unelected recesses of An Bord Pleanala.


The debate, if you'd even call it that, has been dominated by the political angle, I think that's true, with a few conspiracy theories thrown into the mix as befitts the state of paranoia that we're in [present company excepted], but what it hasn't been about is aesthetics, and it is a judgement about aesthetics that essentially killed the National Children's Hospital.

It doesn't matter what light you shine on Bord Pleanala, you're still going to find a board that has no aesthetic training, a board that consists of one town planner, two civil engineers and a chemical engineer. I wouldn't ask these people to judge a national children's art competition.


Wow, I genuinely had no idea that the Board was relatively speaking so under qualified. Thats my essential problem, there was actually a very good reason to establish ABP. Elected politicians with hidden agendas were making bad decisions. However, to replace them with unelected, unaccountable pen pushers with their own clear hidden agendas is perhaps the worst solution.

I firmly believe all projects and buildings should be judged on the totality of their effects, not just on extremely narrow height/aestetic grounds. ABP clearly share a certain milieu with the most extreme elements of An Taisce and are alomst willfully obtuse regarding the threat from highrise buildings to the exclusion of all other factors.
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby StephenC » Thu Mar 01, 2012 3:44 pm

Its important to remember that while the Board at present comprises 4 officers including a very experienced planner, the vast majority of staff in ABP, ie the inspectors are all qualified and very experienced planners. Thats the whole point of the organisation, that you have a cohort of planners separate from local authorities (ie local agendas) and central government (ie national agendas) who can give an unbiased and objective view of development within the confines of the law - that is Irish planning and development law and European law. I know that the law is a very subjective concept in this tinpot democracy of ours...very important until it needs to be ignored or dismissed.

As a planner BigC I find your tone to be quite offensive. This proposal has been considered under all its various aspects by different groups; planning and environmental concerns are just one element, albeit a very important element and I would warrant that proper planning was not taken seriously until the decision of the Board came out. I certainly know from pre-planning discussions I had with the architects that the "think about the children" defence was considered enough to justify whatever needed to be built here.

I would argue that the ABP process has been one of the more transparent aspects of this whole process. The views of everyone were aired at a public oral hearing. The submissions of everyone in relation to the project are available to view from the planning file. The decision is transparent and certainly free of Bertie Ahern's grubby hands, unlike the original decision to locate here by all accounts.
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby gunter » Thu Mar 01, 2012 5:35 pm

Below is an extract from Dublin City Council's submission to ABP, as quoted in the inspector's report:

'Scheme is impressive for the way it has reconciled the many challenges of a large and complex brief and a defined inner urban site producing a design of substantial architectural and urban design quality with a high degree of legibility and integrity;

Key issue is the appearance and impact of the building’s form on Dublin’s skyline and on its historic setting;


I've read the City Council's submission and, I have to say, I think they got it about right. They had concerns about aspects of the design which it is clear they would have sought modifications to - via a request for additional information - had the application been made to them in the first instance, and they wanted someone to compensate them for the loss of on-street parking revenue, but in general they appear to have felt that the aesthetic challenge of the bulk/scale/mass was close to finding its design resolution.

The inspector's report doesn't record who in Dublin City Council was the author of their impressive submission, but I'm guessing it wasn't the guy responsible for putting down slopy lawns on Smithfield, or the guy with the tarmac fetish on Fade Street.
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby Frank Taylor » Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:37 pm

ABP weighed up this project and, without offering an alternative, they cancelled it as if they were cancelling a supermarket or a housing development. In this case multiple medical expert committees have judged that this site is optimal for patient outcomes, anything less is at the cost of public health. Something is wrong with ABP's mandate that they have chosen to preserve their idea of the aesthetic purity of a tawdry Dublin district at the expense of children's survival rates. Clearly ABP have no mandate to balance the aesthetic against the functional gain to the city.

The buildings that currently surround St George's Church are abominable indictments of previous planning decisions. Low rise, depressing socially segregated ghetto blocks, cars strewn in front. pastiche georgian meets brutal 60s redbrick cuboid poverty grids meets noughties low cost apartments. This is shitsville and a new hospital will not make it worse. Even if its shiny corners can be seen over the rooftops.

Image

Nearly every building in this area is either in contravention of planning law or is in essence a crime against nature, a structure that screams "kill me".

Tall buildings do impose on the surroundings and are only appropriate in a city where they serve an important civic function like for example a goddamn national hospital.
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby corkblow-in » Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:42 pm

I have to say I totally agreed with the decision as the building simply does not fit on the selected site. Far too many compromises and operational strategies are required to make it work and that should not occur in a new modern building, nor is any future expansion catered for.

It's not about a struggle between developing in the suburbs or strengthening the city but getting a modern, well designed, flexible and high quality facility in the most appropriate location. If compromises have to be made somewhere it should be in the location, not in the building.

The scheme did not comply with the dublin city development plan, with the Dublin city height strategy or with the mount joy/phibsboro local area plan. Aside from that it would have had a massive visual impact on O'Connell street and the historic Georgian core. The primary public transport scheme on which it was based (metro north) is not going ahead at the moment & the inspector had doubts over the validity of the traffic study.

We've had the country ruined by ignoring properly prepared spatial plans and disregarding the proper planning of the country - so I'm happy that it hasn’t been granted for political reasons - unlike the decision to proceed with this site.

It may be the wrong way to thing, but I always assess public schemes by comparing them with how the same development by a private developer would be received - & there is no way on earth that a scheme even 50% this ones size would be granted permission - and rightly so.

Emotive language notwithstanding - in planning terms I believe it was the correct decision
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Re: National Children's Hospital design

Postby GrahamH » Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:16 am

I couldn't agree more. By any standard, this development breached countless statutory planning provisions. The fact that nobody could be bothered to engage meaningful planning input during the process, in some form of bizarre don't ask, don't tell ritual, does not excuse any blind granting of permission for the project.

gunter wrote:I've read the City Council's submission and, I have to say, I think they got it about right. They had concerns about aspects of the design which it is clear they would have sought modifications to - via a request for additional information - had the application been made to them in the first instance, and they wanted someone to compensate them for the loss of on-street parking revenue, but in general they appear to have felt that the aesthetic challenge of the bulk/scale/mass was close to finding its design resolution.

The inspector's report doesn't record who in Dublin City Council was the author of their impressive submission, but I'm guessing it wasn't the guy responsible for putting down slopy lawns on Smithfield, or the guy with the tarmac fetish on Fade Street.


I couldn't disagree more. The City Council submission is a complete fudge - as with the DOE's - adopting the usual mindless anodyne corporate position, tossing positives against negatives like apples and oranges and arriving with a pineapple on its head. Literally, in this instance. No matter what this proposal was, DCC would have granted permission. I have no question in my mind on that. The pressure to get this passed on a number of fronts was enormous and there was no way management were going to say no to this. Even for the Board to make the decision they did was a very ambitious move - even if the very concept of an 'ambitious' decision by a statutory board reviewing statutory instruments being preposterous. A highly regarded former member of the Board has observed that the indirect pressure on ABP with this decision was colossal, and is firmly of the belief that it will have repercussions for how it operates in the future, which is profoundly regrettable in this day and age.

Simply put, the government put all its eggs in one basket with a preposterous 'review panel' late last year, costing over €200,000 of 'consultants' time, without one ounce of planning expertise. This is widely agreed to be the nub of the issue; they can no longer blame the previous government for this location choice, and must now clean up a mess which they single-handedly created - one which first year planning students, free of charge, could happily have informed them about before ever lodging a single planning file.

Frank Taylor wrote:ABP weighed up this project and, without offering an alternative, they cancelled it as if they were cancelling a supermarket or a housing development. In this case multiple medical expert committees have judged that this site is optimal for patient outcomes, anything less is at the cost of public health. Something is wrong with ABP's mandate that they have chosen to preserve their idea of the aesthetic purity of a tawdry Dublin district at the expense of children's survival rates. Clearly ABP have no mandate to balance the aesthetic against the functional gain to the city.

The buildings that currently surround St George's Church are abominable indictments of previous planning decisions. Low rise, depressing socially segregated ghetto blocks, cars strewn in front. pastiche georgian meets brutal 60s redbrick cuboid poverty grids meets noughties low cost apartments. This is shitsville and a new hospital will not make it worse. Even if its shiny corners can be seen over the rooftops.


Frank, you are justifying bad planning with bad planning. Also, to couch this decision as an 'aesthetic' argument is simplistic and ill-informed. Read the 130-page plus report before drawing conclusions.
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