O' Connell Street, Dublin

Postby Peter Fitz » Tue Aug 05, 2003 2:16 am

should definitely send that to the times / indo Graham ...
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Postby redeoin » Tue Aug 05, 2003 10:15 am

Great posting - the only thing I will say is that a lot of the new corpo generation genuinely seem to care, and know what they are at, and I would hate to tar them with the brush of the last two generations...

It will be a real turning point for the northside once O'Connell St is complete. Most Dubliners are only vaguely aware of what is going on as far as I can see, and a really well designed O'Connell St will really make them sit up and take notice - and perhaps notice all the other Northside developments going on too - Smithfield, The Markets (hopefully), The Ilac Centre/Parnell St/Moore St, Talbot/Foley St, Spencer Dock...
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Postby StephenC » Tue Aug 05, 2003 11:39 am

An excellent critique Graham and I agree you should forward it on to the papers...

But I think its a fair point to say that there is a new mentality in the DCC which is gradually undoing a lot of the mistakes of the 70s and 80s. There is also a lot more money about. For example, I couldnt imagine the old Feeley regime having the idea of the Boardwalk or Smithfield. Still the tendancy to drag their heels and ignore simple and obvious solutions to problems remains....
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Postby GrahamH » Tue Aug 05, 2003 9:06 pm

I agree whole-heartedly, there is now a geninue interest and dedication in the City Council to the betterment of Dublin City, indeed they almost thrive on rectifying the mistakes of the past.
At last there is a vision in the City Council, with utterly committed staff & planners, although the delays & hitches trail on as always.

They could have won and deserved approval for the O' Connell St plans however - had they enacted them straight away.
And so the only area where they could have earned credit and applause - in initiating the street's upgrading immediatly - was the very area they utterly failed, work began on the plaza some 5 years and 4 months after the publication of the IAP - in which - rather amusingly the then Lord Mayor stated he hoped to see much of the proposed work 'carried out by the Millenium'.
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Postby GrahamH » Tue Aug 05, 2003 9:09 pm

Perhaps the Indo will publish it if I say that Desmond Guinness was the developer behind the proposed demolition of the Georgian townhouse...
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Postby GrahamH » Wed Aug 06, 2003 7:09 pm

Well after all your encouragement, the posting should be on Geraldine Kennedy's desk right now, or rather on her sub-editor's secretary's secretary's desk...
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Postby GrahamH » Fri Sep 26, 2003 12:03 am

Thursday 25th 2003

I saw the first of the new paving on the street today - and wow it looks stunning - so good you want to keep it caged off from the public with barriers and concrete boulders - keep it safe from dirty feet and the plague of chewing gum.

I see it is being laid a significant 1 foot or so below the existing road level, hopefully this is in order to reduce the level of the pavement under the portico of the GPO which is too high and eats up parts of the plinths of it's columns and the steps of the entrances.

The base of the Spire is being surrounded with straight edged square granite cobbles (which must have cost the earth) - with the areas either side on the median being laid in alternate stripes of granite slabs and (I think) limestone, which has a bluey tinge to it and is very attractive.

There is no question that litter wardens must be dedicated to the street after completion, if there is a strong awarness amongst the public that if you throw/spit chewing gum on the ground, that you will be nabbed, the process will soon stop.

This paving which must be prohibitively expensive
must be protected.

And as much as one would like to say otherwise - GOOD GOD O' CONNELL ST NEEDS TREES!!!
I'd like to think it's architecture could hold the street up - but it can't - largely due to the appalling state of repair of most of the stock above st level.

I had'nt seen the st without the Clery's trees until today - the place looks like London after the Blitz.
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Postby Peter Fitz » Fri Sep 26, 2003 12:27 am

a row of limes running the full length of the street on the right and left will be fine ... All of the london planes should be removed, has anyone heard any more on the rumour that the ones outside the gresham were going to be kept ?

I think this would ruin the symetry of the plan ...
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Postby James » Fri Sep 26, 2003 2:40 am

I was amused to read Graham's 'rant' on the previous page about the city council's poor record on O'Connell St. Even more amused to note them yet again claiming credit for the whole idea of the 'Civic Thoroughfare' in the first place.

My practise actually produced the initial draft masterplan in 1996. It was'nt a City Council proposal in fact the body pressing for it's implementation was the City Centre Business Association.

Among other things our proposal was for the thoroughfare to extend through from O'Connel St all the way up Dame St, for the inclusion of a new footbridge east of O'Connell Bridge, and the establishment of a series of boardwalks along the Liffey.

We were credited with this precisely once, on an old 'Questions and Answers' when the then minister referred rather disparagingly to the 'Kelly Plan'.

Out of interest we were paid the princely sum of £600.00 for the plan as our client was basically trying to press this proposal forward on a shoestring. I remember quite well the chief exec of the Business Association telling me at the time that none of us would get anything in the way of credit for the implementation of the plan if it ever came to pass as the 'Big Boys in Civic Offices' would grab the limelight.

That said, City Architects Division really worked their socks off trying to make the thing work (even if I don't agree with the removal of the trees which came in sometime later or with the decision not to re-instate Gardiners mall).

Anyway, I thought you might find this of interest.
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Postby StephenC » Fri Sep 26, 2003 10:47 am

Thats an interesting story... but I guess its to be expected that DCC will take all the glory for this redevelopment. It is worth noting that there are other people involved, although to be fare the IAP did note this.

The paving looks so bright and clean and I think the use of such bright granite is going to dramatically alter the atmosphere of the street, together with all that stainless steel street furniture. But that cobbling is bound to take ages to complete. Perhaps extra large slabs would have been better.

I have to agree Peter: Its sad to say because the trees have been there for such a long time and deserve better than to be cut down but keeping the mature trees at the North end will completely ruin the symetry of the street, which is one of its strongest elements.
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Postby GrahamH » Sat Sep 27, 2003 12:46 am

I never knew An Taisce proposed this either James - although I was aware of the CCBA's actions on the issue.

Why do you not like the idea of the trees going - I am equally sad etc to see them going, esp with the history attached to a minority of them, but I see the current lime tree plan to be in the overwhelming interest of the street - above the existing ones - most of which were planted in the 60s.

They became far too large, obscuring completly the buildings on the other side of the street - and more importantly, massively diminished the boulevard aspect to it - it became almost a parkland, just with acres of asphalt underneath.

The current plan reinforces the length of the throughfare with the symmetrical layout acknowledging it's importance.

I never heard of the plans to re-instate Gardiner's Mall either - and as much as I'd love to see it done for historical reasons, I'm not sure of it's relevance for today.
Whatever about building 'old' in the rebuilding of the modern infill on the st to unify the character of the st - which was argued about at length on the Royal Dublin thread - rebuilding the Mall surely would be nostalgic in the extreme.
The wealthy of today promenade in their Victorian piles in leafy suburbia - not in the middle of O' Connell St (indeed the exact opposite of what prevails today!)
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Postby notjim » Sat Sep 27, 2003 6:29 am

gardiner's mall was area along the middle of the street surrounded by a low wall and for walking around in finery, is that right? did you have to pay to get in? i would have to agree with Graham and wonder if there is a need for it.
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Postby James » Sat Sep 27, 2003 8:36 pm

Re: Graham's comments.

An Taisce may have had theri own views on O'Connell St at the time - I was'nt aware of them though - I'm a private consultant Architect, who is a member, not an employee - that said I must find out what their position was at the time.

As to the Mall - well its 'horses for courses' really - it always seemed to me like the best way of retrieving the character of the street as a public space which is pretty much what it was planned as rather than primarily as a thoroughfare - I happen to like parks, amenity space and 'resting' and promenade places within cities - I don't particularly think its an archaic concept either - My own feeling was that it might 'expose' a hitherto hidden aspect ofteh street which might have allowed for continuation across the bridge (which is extremely wide) and solved the 'problem' of the still messy junction at D'Olier St and Westmorland St.

The trees?? - well its a personal thing - I find the idea of destroying something that took 40 to 10 years (depending on their location) to grow - perverse in the extreme.

I agree they wer'nt particularly well placed however they're attractive in their own right, characterful, and with a different approach to the detail of the central strip and some judicious pruning and shaping could have formed the 'bones' of something quite unique along the central reservation or mall.
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Sun Sep 28, 2003 10:45 am

Actually, I quite like the idea of the mall being reinstated... just bear with me on this....


imagine a long linear park bordered by small box hedges, and gravelled in the parisian manner with trees and seats (now forget that dubliners are a dirty breed, so imagine it clean and cared for).... imagine this like james suggests continuing right across the bridge to end at the neo-gothic pile at the junction of d'olier and westmoreland.... could be nice... worth rendering up to see anyway....
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Postby GrahamH » Mon Sep 29, 2003 12:12 pm

Absolutely, indeed bookstalls, coffee-sellers etc could all have their place in this scheme.

But rebuilding the mall from Parnell down to Henry St, in its original position, would break the length of the street, ruining its continuity - and have litttle relevance today, as none of the original streetscape remains with the exception of one house.

Building a mall the whole way down, over the bridge and in a modern manner is a different idea entirely - and a better different idea at that!

Integrating O' Connell Bridge into the street has always been a problem, with the Eden Quay/Bachelors Walk axis breaking the link.
This median park could join them up nicely.

Sorry James, I though you were representing An Taisce from a previous thread - nice to know the CCBA at least cared for its environs long before it became fashionable to be involved in 'regeneration'.
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Postby GrahamH » Mon Sep 29, 2003 12:48 pm

The Royal Dublin have submitted what is now at least their 3rd application for their refurbishment.
The latest includes plans for a closed off cafe terrace onto the street - which must be welcomed - and rather bizzarely, small balconies fronting some, if not all of the bedrooms facing the street.

The facade is to be 'contemporary' with 'natural stone and glass'. there is also to be a new glass canopy built over the cafe at ground floor level, as well as something like 'intergrated structural floodlighting' of the facade.
I only read it after passing the Civic Offfices earlier - could have gone in to see it on paper - unless someone else would like to venture in instead hint hint...
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Postby GregF » Mon Sep 29, 2003 12:52 pm

The new paving around the GPO and Spire looks great....pity it wil be soiled with chewing gum and vomit by the riff raff when finished
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Postby GrahamH » Mon Sep 29, 2003 7:29 pm

Just passed it this evening, some of the granite being laid is that pinky, large crystalled type (which I despise with avengence) alongside the limestone.
I'll reserve judgement until completion - I think it has just always reminded me of flooring in 70s supermarkets.
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Postby garethace » Mon Sep 29, 2003 8:02 pm

Out of interest we were paid the princely sum of £600.00 for the plan as our client was basically trying to press this proposal forward on a shoestring.


Geeze, I didn't think that would even qualify as a shoestring! I would say many wood work teachers were doing better designing bungalows! Vomit, sorry. . . Read about what the real Princes of Paper Architecture are doing at 58-years of age. Never too old James!

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Postby d_d_dallas » Tue Sep 30, 2003 2:38 pm

graham - dontcha think a bit of colour will help the street? 70's supermarkets aside, I think a purely grey granite surface on that scale would be very drab especially in the poor quality light of an Irish winter. There are patches of pinkish colour and grey on the "nearly there" Patrick St project in Cork - and I have to say good choice! It really brightens up the place.

Also pink goes so much better with blackened chewing gum!
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Postby StephenC » Wed Oct 01, 2003 11:52 am

There are pink coloured granite slabs being laid on O'Connell St...you can see some already
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Postby GrahamH » Wed Oct 01, 2003 8:44 pm

Thats what I was trying to figure - colour will brighten the area no end, not least outside the GPO which frankly is horribly drab - but colour dates so quickly - suppose you can't account for everything.

About the GPO - it needs cleaning - it was sandblasted in 1984 I think,but a simple pressure washing is all thats required now - not least the base of the columns which are disgusting - they've never been touched and are disgraceful for a building of this status.

And if the windows were originally white they should be painted as such to lighten it up - although I've a feeling they were originally brown as part of that craze in the early 19th century.
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Postby redeoin » Thu Oct 02, 2003 4:55 pm

When o'connell st is unveiled as a boulevard in two years time, there will be a lot of regeneration of basic things like the cleanlinesss of shop fronts etc.

There will hopefully also be a further wave of apartments in the unused upper floors of buildings, as people are suddenly attracted by the location.

What would do very well would be tourist style apartments that are rented on short-term leases for people who want to take extended holidays and breaks...

The upper building line on the street, apart from a handful of buildings, looks rather well now that the trees have come down; that can only improve.
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Postby GregF » Thu Oct 02, 2003 5:13 pm

Would'nt it be nice to see some shop fronts here with canopies/awnings too, for they can be an attractive feature on a shop front. Thomas Reads on Dame Street/Parliament Street springs to mind
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Postby Rory W » Fri Oct 03, 2003 12:21 pm

I would be superb if a uniform set of awnings was introduced for the entire street (And D'Olier/Westmoreland too - v. impressive
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