Grafton Street, Dublin

Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby GrahamH » Fri Dec 02, 2011 12:28 am

The original long, elegant proportions of the first floor window opes were also revealed in the course of works. This was probably visible inside prior to any works being undertaken. But again, ignored in favour of a tall and cumbersome new shopfront.

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Let’s not forget the painted granite window sills.

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Or the 1960s-revival slab reveals.

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Or the refined resolution of the quoins.

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The seamlessly subtle, unpainted joint with the adjacent brick facade.

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It should also be noted that, because the building was not a Protected Structure (it should have been), the entire structure was (legitimately) gutted in a matter of weeks. Nothing was left standing only the four walls tottering on steel beams and a corner column. The 1960s shopfront was also partially removed before planning permission was even granted for the external works. Again, the planning authority had no interest in pursuing anything. To stand on the street back in June, hearing the innards of the building collapsing down with multiple blows, floor by floor, through an unauthorised removed shopfront, while a planning permission in an ACA was being prepared with zero conservation input, was simply galling. And even more so when it was being carried out for a Dublin business that prides itself on its tradition and long-standing trading since 1916. Where has the merchant pride gone in Dublin? One truly despairs.

The sole meagre consolation from the whole ordeal is that the building is worth substantially less than had the job been done properly.

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West RIP
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby StephenC » Thu Mar 01, 2012 6:27 pm

The completed shop opened yesterday...
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby gunter » Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:44 am

you sound impressed
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby StephenC » Fri Mar 02, 2012 12:50 pm

Well...its a smart frontage but I cant help being disheartened about treatment of the upper levels and the inevitable gutting that took place inside. I wasn't a great fan of the old West's front. If you are heading down to view it take a look at the urban crime that is the vista down South Anne Street towards the Church. Unbelievable. How do we move on from this? How do we progress in this city? I'm stumped if I know..
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby Service charge » Fri Mar 02, 2012 10:15 pm

Meanwhile, down the street Boots went from this:

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To this:

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And I felt sick.
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby StephenC » Sat Mar 03, 2012 1:48 am

Jez Louise, one can only imagine how you'll feel when you see the plastic muck going up on the former Richard Allan store today. A hip new pop-up sports store don't you know. Take one stone clad frontage, apply glue, apply plastic and they will come.

The irony of DCC Architects touting their designs for this new upmarket Grafton Street Quarter while DCC planners stand by as it rots and a business community runs riot is shocking to see.
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby StephenC » Sat Mar 03, 2012 8:35 pm

Aul Mr Brereton's on Grafton Street...

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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby StephenC » Sat Mar 03, 2012 8:38 pm

New plastic muck on the former Richard Allan store, further south along the street. No planning permission for this of course.

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There is a permission in place to revamp and refurbish the store which extends out to South King Street.
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby StephenC » Sat Mar 03, 2012 9:05 pm

Where do you start with the continuing proliferation of plastic on the street. The decline of Grafton Street over the past 24 months has been stark. It must be said that use has held up...there are very few vacant units on the street. However a development free-for-all seems to have taken hold, all the more marked when one considers the major DCC plans for the area as an upmarket shopping street (Grafton Quarter) and of course the now ignored ACA and Special Planning Control Scheme.

Leaving aside the poor quality paving and lighting, which everyone would agree requires updating, the street's quality is greatly diminished by the sheer amount of signage and clutter being added to buildings, from plastic fascias, to projecting signs, to banners and flags. Secondary street's such as South Anne Street and Duke Street fair just as badly, if not worse...

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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby StephenC » Sat Mar 03, 2012 9:09 pm

You'd be tripping over these guys as well...must have counted 20+ sandwich boards and finger signs

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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby GrahamH » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:24 am

Grafton Street is now such a kip that I refuse to walk it anymore. It is baffling how a prestigious street, initially brought down with lower order uses such as mobile phone chains and the loss of specialist shops - and long acknowledged as such by everyone, even including the moronic Irish media - is now entering complete freefall in how the place is presented and the quality of the uses pervading. Once one passes the manicured, if somewhat plasticised, elevations of Brown Thomas, the street presents all the qualities of the main drag of a third rate London suburb - ten years ago.

Is it any wonder major international retailers will not touch Grafton Street with a bargepole. Certainly, if I saw potential in the Irish market for my brand, I would be over to grand and elegant Henry Street in a flash. Or imperious and spacious O'Connell Street, or parts of Dawson Street at a push. Grotty, grubby, garish Grafton Street is now a badge of destruction - not distinction - for any quality retailer and is to be avoided at all costs. The non-existent planning enforcement is shocking, but equally, these myriad crude interventions reflect the mediocre business culture on the street, where many owners and occupiers want investment from DCC handed to them on a plate when they don't even know their own brand or the type of quality environment their customers want. The amount of plastic windows, signage, awful shopfronts, banners, postering, finger signs and speaker music all indicate an absentee landlordisim - much of it pension fund generated - and a business class of occupiers that just don't recognise the urban quality of what they could have.

But yes, the lack of proactive implemention of any planning tools at DCC's disposal is the greatest problem on our hands. Their carelessness and mismanagement of this thoroughfare is really quite shocking and at this stage they should be held to account by the Department of Environment. Likewise, the implementation of their own policies - as with the protection of shopfronts such as Boots, highlighted by Service charge above. The painting of this, one of the last polished timber shopfronts in Dublin, containing a number of historic elements, was granted late last year.

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Giving us this delight from Bromley high street.

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Elegant reticence of an old lady...

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...transformed into utter mediocrity, on a Protected Structure, in an ACA on the city's 'premier' street.

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At least the polished granite plinth still survives.

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Also the glazing bars before they were painted.

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The delightful timber signage with gold lettering has now been replaced with plastic. DCC quality control alive and well as ever.

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In honesty, I'd sooner see a million quid spent on some decent large concrete slab paving for the street and the other seven million plus for the bells and whistles regeneration be redirected into a fund to clean up the street's buildings. It ain't gonna happen otherwise.
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby Paul Clerkin » Mon Mar 05, 2012 2:48 am

What date does that shopfront hail from? Just out of interest.
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby GrahamH » Mon Mar 05, 2012 12:22 pm

Yes Paul, a question that's often pondered about. It's an interesting amalgam of what appears to be an Edwardian shopfront layered over with pretty convincing 1980s elements - though I'm sure others will have a clearer recollection of when the more recent layers were added. The shimmering imitation vitrolite is not without its charms - I imagine it was installed at the same time. The rather floating nature of the pilasters strongly suggests there may be original fabric behind. I've picked and poked at the sides to no avail, but there does seem to be something lurking in there.

What is particularly unique about this building is how the ground floor actually protrudes right out into the street, taking advantage of the kink in the building line. It's a delightful feature, reminicent of Georgian and Victorian retailing modifications to older townhouses - of which there are now so few examples left in the city.
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby StephenC » Mon Mar 05, 2012 11:43 pm

From RTE:
A €4m upgrade of Dublin's Grafton Street is planned to start early next year.
City councillors agreed this evening to begin the process for tenders to be ready for September.
This evening's monthly meeting heard that the current paving for the pedestrianised street was laid in the 1980s and now has to be repaired daily.
A report presented to councillors states that the new paving would be the same grey granite that is in Henry Street.
There would also be a dark grey way finding path along one side with sections in pink to highlight intersections and points of interest.
The work would take about a year to complete and be phased so disruption is minimised.
A special information meeting for councillors will be held within two weeks.
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby Morlan » Tue Mar 06, 2012 2:02 am

The new paving should be “calm and understated in nature” the council says. The background colour will be a mid-grey with a “way-finding path” of dark grey stone off the central roadway on one side to provide an obstruction-free route along the street.

Street junctions will be marked along the street with a light pink granite square set into a darker orange apron. Entrances to small side streets are marked with cyan granite threshold paving and the shopfronts will be edged with a margin of pink granite setts.

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ire ... 50751.html
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby Peter Fitz » Tue Mar 06, 2012 11:46 am

There is no room for a botched job here. What happened to the notion of testing various paving schemes on minor adjoining streets?

a “way-finding path” of dark grey stone off the central roadway on one side to provide an obstruction-free route along the street.


The existing layout does a good job of regularising what is a fairly haphazzard street line.

This sounds as if the primary visual guide delineated by darker paving will be for vehicular traffic, and worse, set to one side. This is a street for pedestrians and the pedestrian should be the sole focus of any new paving scheme.

GrahamH wrote:Grafton Street is now such a kip that I refuse to walk it anymore.


Can't believe what they have done to the Boots frontage, and that permission was actually granted.
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby StephenC » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:29 pm

I look forward to seeing the scheme...including details such as lighting and street furniture. In essence was is proposed from the description is a similar scheme to Henry Street which uses mid grey granite offset with pink stone and a cobble sett effect to frame entrances. I generally like the Henry Street scheme although it had its problems. The original bollards being the main issue....nasty little things that were soon being removed and discarded. There are some still in place I think but they look awful. The stainless steel (we do our own thing) bollards outside Debenhams (then Roches Stores) arent much better and completely redundant on a pedestrianised street. Still this is Dublin and here the bollards rule.

Back to the Grafton Street design...the scheme has been completed for a while now because it was shown to DCBA a few months back. The plan then was to complete temp works to Clarendon Street (with an awful painted on scheme) to allow greater numbers to walk that street while Grafton was dug up. I understood from a presentation about 2 months back that the Clarendon works were imminent. Don't hold your breath on this one though...remember that Fade Street is part of this DCC 'vision' for the area.

Coverage of the story in Irish Times:

Grafton St repaving in pink and grey to cost €2.5m
OLIVIA KELLY

DUBLIN’S PRINCIPAL shopping street, Grafton Street, is to be repaved in grey and pink granite by Dublin City Council at a cost of approximately €2.5 million.

The work, which will see the surface of the entire street dug up and the existing red-brick paving removed, is expected to take about a year to complete. It is due to get under way next January.

The council says the Eurobrick paving, which was laid on the pedestrianised street in the mid- 1980s, has deteriorated badly to the point where it requires repair on an almost daily basis.

“The replacement of its existing paving material is an imperative for the street and the city,” councillors were told last night.

The work will involve the removal of the existing pavement for the length of the street from the junction of Nassau Street and Suffolk Street, just in front of the Molly Malone Statue, to St Stephen’s Green North. The paving will be stripped back to the building line at each side of the street. All “street furniture” such as bins, bollards and poles will be removed and replaced.

The new paving should be “calm and understated in nature” the council says. The background colour will be a mid-grey with a “way-finding path” of dark grey stone off the central roadway on one side to provide an obstruction-free route along the street.

Street junctions will be marked along the street with a light pink granite square set into a darker pink apron. Entrances to small side streets are marked with pink granite threshold paving and the shopfronts will be edged with a margin of pink granite setts.

Councillors last night approved the initiation of the plans but raised concerns that the works would have a serious impact on the use of the street.

The work will be undertaken on a phased basis to minimise disruption for businesses, the council says. The new paving and street furniture will also provide protection to existing private under-street cellars from the weight of delivery vehicles and will allow for street maintenance by mechanised street-cleaning vehicles.

The work is to be the first in a series of improvements for the area which the council has dubbed the Grafton Street quarter.

The council plans to spend a further €9.5 million by the end of 2014 on improvements to other streets surrounding Grafton Street. Plans for the repaving come more than five years after the council designated Grafton Street as an architectural conservation area.

The designation serves to protect the appearance of the street by specifying shopfront design and the material used in the maintenance of old buildings and in new developments.
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby StephenC » Tue Mar 06, 2012 4:34 pm

To be utterly depressed, read the commentary on journal.ie

http://www.thejournal.ie/grafton-street ... 0-Mar2012/
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Mar 06, 2012 5:51 pm

422807_306193652777873_100001617226452_806248_1672915804_n.jpg

Graham - Grafton St. c.1922

boots.jpg

And the shopfront as then
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby Peter Fitz » Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:44 pm

StephenC wrote:I look forward to seeing the scheme...including details such as lighting and street furniture. In essence was is proposed from the description is a similar scheme to Henry Street which uses mid grey granite offset with pink stone and a cobble sett effect to frame entrances. I generally like the Henry Street scheme although it had its problems.


Not a fan of the Henry Street scheme. This is not fucking China!

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What's wrong with a bit of Kilkenny Limestone?
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby Daragh » Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:20 pm

It's interesting that the press release about the Grafton Street Area redevelopment harps on about improved and 'matching' street furniture like bins and lamposts etc. Isn't that what was originally promised and done for Henry Street and O'Connell Street before it was all chipped away at during the years after those streets' redevelopments?

But just why did DCC replace the modern-looking stylish steel bins on Henry Street and O'Connell Street after their redevelopment? It really bugs me as I think those bins were way nicer that the ones currently on the street. Anyone know?
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby GrahamH » Mon Mar 12, 2012 12:37 am

One of life's eternal mysteries, Daragh...

Interesting photograph there, Paul. It appears to show the same glazed shopfront with curved glass and granite plinth, but different pilasters and fascia.

And sure enough, when you do a bit of crawling, a nice bit of matching pink granite exposes itself beneath the modern timber pilasters.

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Viewed head-on, you can see how the shopfront clearly projects out into the street in a skewed fashion.

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The building in late 2011 before the shopfront was mauled.

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We mustn't forget that the Boots building is also one of the oldest on Grafton Street, and was probably gable-fronted originally. Here it is in Shaw's Pictorial Directory of 1850, showing a squat little attic storey of apparent Regency vintage that almost certainly replaced a gable storey. A projecting closet return remains to the rear, while the chopped-out early 18th century chimneystack and replacement supporting decorative column can still be observed inside the shop, now surrounded by delightful frothy plasterwork.

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A wonderful tell tale indicator of the building's former gable-fronted status is this beautifully ornate hopper that remains stranded, swamped by the stucco of the facade, a considerable distance down from the new parapet valley.

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One would like to think of it as original to the construction of the house and hence one of the oldest surviving in the city, but it does appear to be 19th century cast-iron, complete with lettering of some kind. A niave little face also adorns the collar.

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The figure at first floor level, presumably Hygieia wth serpent, can just about be made out in Paul's earlier picture.

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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby Punchbowl » Mon Mar 12, 2012 2:15 am

As much as I dislike it, surely Boots are simply following the trend. I mean, why should they retain a respectable shopfront when everyone else on the street isn't?
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby Peter Fitz » Wed Mar 28, 2012 5:17 pm

Any plans on-line detailing proposed new paving scheme / layout?
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Re: Grafton Street, Dublin

Postby Cathal Dunne » Thu Mar 29, 2012 2:11 am

Gosh, this thread would bring you back down after enjoying all the lovely sunny weather. While the above commenters are certainly right that some premises have deteriorated (particularly Boots, it's shocking that they've been let ruin that beautiful old-fashioned shop front with that plasticised mess) there are still places on Grafton Street which recognise that they are on the premier shopping street of Ireland's premier city. Swarovski, Bewley's, Brown Thomas, Weir and Sons, Tommy Hilfiger, M&S, McDonalds and the Disney Shop would be examples of better stewards than the ones mentioned above. So while there are problems with Grafton St. such as cracked paving, a proliferation of gaudy signage and a lack of general will to maintain standards, those standards are still there and Grafton Street, especially in frosty December with the lights aglow, still has the power to sparkle.
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