National Gallery Extension

Postby edward » Sat Feb 02, 2002 4:32 pm

this building is pathetic....a good idea gonde bad...really bad.....i have seen better details at burger king.....and the spaces aren't big enough to exhibit shoes, let alone art.
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Postby WhiteCube » Tue Feb 05, 2002 12:38 pm

...fair dues - this is probably the first building in recent times in Dublin with anything close to a wow factor (even if all those "quirky" angles began to look a tad flouncy)...it was worth it just to see jaws drop as people walked in the door...hopefully it might convince the general public to start questioning all those dreadful georgian pastiches and stop equating "modern" architecture with Ballymun..
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Postby nono » Tue Mar 05, 2002 10:07 am

I have not been in Ireland for some time, and these are the first images i have seen of it. It really is quite impressive isn't it?? It does not appear to be as 'over designed' as its Scottish cousin.

The preservation of the ballroom really raises quetions about how far 'conservation' measures should be taken. It appears from the photos to look absolutley awfull.
There seems to be a very poor relationship between it and the contemporary gallery surrounding it.

Can anyone who saw it enlighten me please???
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Postby notjim » Tue Mar 05, 2002 11:03 am

Actually it works quite well, it is a gallery after all and the old buildings, the back of number 5 and the ballroom, are like an exhibit. It reminds you of, for example, the Met in NY where they have recreated various interiors and courtyards.
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Postby MK » Wed Mar 06, 2002 5:48 pm

Couple of comments,
Gordon Benson is a true high modernist, his sole influence is Le Corbusier, as self professed, if you go to one of his lectures it is practically a read through of Vers Une Architecture.


Museum of Scotland was paraded as a unique building, a new Scottish vernacular, if so how do the Dublin Gallery & it bear so striking a resemblance:
Same red steel work bridge effect
same window details
same Ronchamp windows (interior)
Identical stair (open tread terrattso)
Identical 'courtyard' and roof glazing
Both have very weak entrances
Both have the extraordinary mix of extremely Expensive and extremely cheap detailing side by side
Both completely detailed to death.

Both buildings were designed simultaneously but the similarities are just too much to bear taking in mind the 'uniqueness' of both buildings as stated by the architect.

However, I prefer the Dublin Gallery to the Museum of Scotland. The main circulation space is without a doubt the most exhilerating space I have ever seen since Ronchamp and this is possibly Dublin's greatest architectural achievement, but it could have been better.
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Postby James » Wed Mar 06, 2002 9:12 pm

Funny to think that we criticise (rightly I think) Georgian pastiche or fake Victoriana and yet hail as a masterpiece what is essentially a pastiche of the work of Corbusier (and not a particularly well thought out pastiche - Ronchamp meets Chandigargh meets Shodhan and gets it off with Garche!!!) I do like Benson and Forsyths work but it looks pretty dated and pointless to be re-hashing the same old motifs and 'iconic references.

Methinks this is the Post modernism writ over!!!.

Also to be honest the building has a major flaw - it is essentially a series of retail and cafeteria spaces with a somewhat isolated series of galleries up top.

When I visited it was packed - but there was little to show of paintings. I had to re-enter (via a fairly tortuous route) the 'old' Galery to actually view an exhibition that had any coherence.
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Postby Hugh » Wed Mar 06, 2002 9:56 pm

To follow up MK, the other extraordinary similarity between the Benson & Forsyth buildings in Edinburgh and Dublin is that they are both extensions to buildings by that interesting Victorian engineer-designer, Capt. Francis Fowke.

Had B&H won the competition to extend the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (and they came close) they would have pulled off the hat-trick: Capt. Fowke again!
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Postby MG » Wed Mar 13, 2002 4:41 pm

I now think that the entrance is just a little too small and dark. I know its to create impact when you enter the large interior space but still.
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Postby dc3 » Wed Mar 13, 2002 9:26 pm

First opinions.

Not at all bad. As others said interesting effects.

Already showing signs of wear and tear, the curse of the stuck up sign is in evidence. Dont fancy those steps in leather shoes on a wet day. A nice, artistic & dry shortcut from Clare St to Merrion Street too which introduces a new rat run for me.
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Postby StephenC » Wed Mar 13, 2002 10:41 pm

On the whole I like the building but the details.... I hate the door they have used to section off areas. they are extremely ugly and I think glass would have worked much better. the look like that cheap wood used in MFI kitchens. Another problem area is the connecting gallery with the 1970s building (Milton Wing? I thought it loked really amateurish. But the overall effect of the building is a superb addition to Dublin's collection of public buildings
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Postby dmcg » Mon Mar 25, 2002 7:29 pm

I agree too with BM's reply about the over-worked and self-conscious interior with it's slits and slashes and holes here there and everywhere. In my opinion anyway it is maddening as the big idea is immense and very powerful but the execution destroys it. Not content with tinkering the interior to distraction they do it to the exterior facade also, plus the finishes are very poor in places but this is a problem I feel they brought on themselves. The feeling of the spaces and big entry scale are fabulous but why couldn't they have had the confidence to keep it simpler and inject some siza-like calm, cool modesty? Still it's good to see real architecture growing ever more large and acceptable (even liked!) in the public consciousness.
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Postby Declan » Tue Mar 26, 2002 7:45 pm

Edinburgh was more successful because the niches, cuts, and deep walls were a post modernist reinterpretation of poche within the Scottish Tower house. Likewise the scaling, mass and urban composition worked better in Edinburgh than Dublin (overscaled gestures within a Georgian street compared to a large scaled prominent corner in medieval Edinburgh). The fact that the architects were forced to maintain the adjacent building doesnt excuse the fact that the elevation is poorly composed. The detailing is a virtual return to the fussiness of the Baroque (and badly finshed by the Irish builders in Dublin). All said though, the handling of space and light is superb (cheers Corb).
Supposedly Benson claimed the influence of Ulysses and Dublin lore in the design of the building (cant say I got it)- can anyone throw some light on this?
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Postby pvdz » Tue Mar 26, 2002 9:37 pm

It's interesting that, after investing fart all cash into this highly successful project, the government, Sile de Valera is preparing to pump EU15 million into a crude pastiche extension to Collins Barracks. Doesn't it instill such confidence in the powers that guide our arts and culture in this country!
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Postby dmcg » Tue Apr 02, 2002 6:24 pm

I must also agree with BM's remarks about the 'random slits', which I found completely distracted from the overall building. I felt sheer frustration that excellent simple spaces were left looking like a spotty teenager. Maybe they're onto something I amn't aware of, but I just thought Benson & Forsyth were trying to be too clever architecturally by half. The spaces are superb and should have been left to convey their power simply and modestly - like so many of Siza's works. My great sympathy goes out to the contractor for his having to finish and deal with all these bits - though I don't think he is, or should be, finished with them yet! Don't get me wrong I still think it's an excellent piece of work, and very importantly brings modern architecture ever more centre stage with public life in Ireland, but I feel that the spaces would have benefitted so much more from a 'less is more' approach.
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Postby DARA H » Wed Apr 03, 2002 1:15 am

Devil in the detail...
Would i be the only person that thinks that the traffic lights plonked right in front of the building looks pretty awful & cheap? I think even a simple measure such as painting the grey pole in a gloss, black paint would make it look more visually palitable in its position. An all-black pole/lights may even look like an interesting 'oddity' set as it is in front an (all white)contrasting building. This gallery is meant to be 'national' building so, the protection/ enhancement of its appearence should not stop at its front door.

[This message has been edited by DARA H (edited 03 April 2002).]
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Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue Apr 16, 2002 8:57 am

Okay, I finally made it in.

Build Quality
The build quality of the galleries, especially the top galleries seems excellent, I saw one spot which looked like the wall have developed acne but in general it was good. The public spaces seem to suffer from poor finish however, especially corridors like the one that links to the Milltown wing. Its like the curators kicked up a fuss and the decision was made to get the galleries right and the rest would do.


Galleries
I loved the top floor gallery, lovely light and space and I didn't feel that the building got in the way of the paintings at all - a point that has been made about the Museum of Scotland (I disagree with this as well). I like the hidden seats and little places to stop and look out, features I enjoyed in the Museum of Scotland.


The elevated walkway.
Arggggghhhhhh the dirty Irish, the roof of the ballroom is covered in litter, even a paper plane when I was there last week. The room across the walkway is the room with the bad dose of wall acne just inside the doorway.


The circulation spaces
Dramatic certainly, especially when looking back from the top of the overly steep staircase (it will need a central handrail for safety). I do think that the 'winter garden' is wasted on a fitzers restuarant. Such a fine space and such a boring use. Would have made a great sculpture gallery and would allow more to enjoy it as we cannot all afford to be buying lunch.


The shop
Massive, a decent selection of architecture books


The coffee
Dire and overpriced.


My overall impression?
Slight disappointment, I just cannot put my finger on why. While its a lovely building, maybe its because I've seen it before (in Edinburgh) or maybe it was all the hype before hand. Walking in, I did go "Wow" but it hasnt left that impact on my mind that say the underground segments of the Louvre did or even the Edinburgh version. I do think though that the circulation spaces in our version are better and more dramatic than those in the Edinburgh version.
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Postby dc3 » Tue Apr 16, 2002 2:53 pm

"The shop
Massive, a decent selection of architecture books"

True,
but it is very very dark. Would have been better in the cafe spot.
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Re: National Gallery Extension

Postby GrahamH » Sat Apr 12, 2008 11:37 pm

12/4/2008

There's a few threads this topic could have gone into, but here seems the most apt. Indeed what an excellent thread this was in its day - I've just spent 20 minutes scrolling through enjoying the many sharp observations. It's a level of debate that's relatively unusual here; it seems they come crawling out of the woodwork for the big ones ;)

Well this is just a note to say 'the National Gallery House' as it's generally become known has finally been unwrapped after years of apparent scrabbling for funds and various delays. Arthur Gibney & Partners, who were appointed as architects to the project years ago now, have pulled off the conservation job with trademark panache.

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The building is to serve as the new administrative HQ of the National Gallery of Ireland.

Thankfully Gibneys know better than to get sucked into this current trend for returning Victorian sheet sashes to original Georgian specification (though of course merited in the right circumstances). In this case all Victorian additions, as cumbersome as some may be, have been respectfully preserved. Indeed it's so much more interesting to observe the panels on the internal shutters revealing all in conforming to the original Georgian glazing pattern, than a batch of repro windows pretending to be something they're not. Thus the fabric has been retained, and the pernickity conservationist/scholar can rest assured on provenance, basking in the warm glow of smug self-assuredness ;)

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The brickwork has also been cleaned and tuck pointed.

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(The reflection is the scaffolding of Trinity's buildings across the road).


The grandiose chimneys beautifully are re-rendered and the stucco repainted (sneaky cable running under the frieze there ;))

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These robust railings are great - decorous yet elegant.

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It would appear some of the granite has been redressed. What's going on with this corner I'm not sure. You'd expect it to be the original Georgian plinth for a large railing corner piece, but there's no holes...

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The only thing I'm iffy about is the doorcase. It seems to be of reconstituted stone, as at Parnell Square west. At the very least it's machine cut and polished.

Image
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Re: National Gallery Extension

Postby GrahamH » Sat Apr 12, 2008 11:45 pm

It's almost like ceramic, and not altogether pleasant at close quarters. A plasticy look and feel to it.

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What happened to the original I wonder.

Similarly the spoked glazing bars of the fanlight appear unduly clunky and angular for such a late Georgian house. Maybe a later alteration.

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Beautifully fresh paintwork and exposed granite cills which look new.

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Although the doorcase looks a bit washed out in the wider expanse of the ground floor – indeed the paint to the quoins and parapet does seem to lean towards the Dulux Weathershield end of the scale (the ground floor is softer). Perhaps it’s mimicking the industrial Victorian paint that was originally used. Dublin grime will tone things down fairly quickly either way...

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It looks great adjacent to the Millennium Wing, which I didn’t have time to snap given the traffic.

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Not only would the loss of the house have been unfortunate as the whole Millenium Wing project was originally proposed, but in fact I much prefer the modest, narrow, square-like quality of the Millennium facade as built – one of its greatest attributes actually. It’s quietly subtle, and if anything greater design consideration probably went into its smaller form than had it been sprawling along the streetscape. It also slots perfectly into the rhythmic quality of the small units marching along this part of the street.

As an aside, I can’t remember if it’s been mentioned already, but a stainless steel handrail has been inserted down the centre of the dramatic entrance hall stairs. Personally I think it compromises the entire design concept, and especially its execution in tubular sections which just jarr as a factory solution in the starkly angular surroundings. The po-mo painted classical pedestal with floral display at the top of the flight caps it off to unfortunately prissy effect.
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Re: National Gallery Extension

Postby kefu » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:31 am

The railing is a health and safety measure. They had three or four compensation cases relating to tumbles from the beautifully wide staircase and found it very hard to defend them. Unfortunate but another inevitability in our litigious society.
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Re: National Gallery Extension

Postby notjim » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:54 am

But it was clear from the start the stairs were dangerous; they should designed them to be safer rather than have an ugly rail retro-fitted. I hate the way the extension is gradually deteriorating, partly through poor maintenance, please fix the doors, repaint the doors, get the inappropriate change box out of the foyer etc and partly because it doesn't work: the untreated render scuffs to easily, the stairs was dangerous and the circulation is terrible.
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Re: National Gallery Extension

Postby gunter » Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:41 pm

GrahamH wrote:12/4/2008

Well this is just a note to say 'the National Gallery House' as it's generally become known has finally been unwrapped after years of apparent scrabbling for funds and various delays. Arthur Gibney & Partners, who were appointed as architects to the project years ago now, have pulled off the conservation job with trademark panache.

Image

The building is to serve as the new administrative HQ of the National Gallery of Ireland.

Thankfully Gibneys know better than to get sucked into this current trend for returning Victorian sheet sashes to original Georgian specification (though of course merited in the right circumstances). In this case all Victorian additions, as cumbersome as some may be, have been respectfully preserved. Indeed it's so much more interesting to observe the panels on the internal shutters revealing all in conforming to the original Georgian glazing pattern, than a batch of repro windows pretending to be something they're not. Thus the fabric has been retained, and the pernickity conservationist/scholar can rest assured on provenance, basking in the warm glow of smug self-assuredness ;)



You can't nail your colours to the mast like that and not expect people to take pot shots.

I grant you that the Victorians did some great buildings (although not too many in this country), but why did they have to go round tarting up other peoples buildings?

The whole design philosophy behind these Georgian houses was their strict severity, enlivened only by finely detailed doorcases and the elegant proportions of their windows, further articulated by their obsessive refinement of their glazing bars.

For the National Gallery to 'conserve' a Victorian tart up version of the upper facade of this house, complete with plate glass windows and frilly strapwork quoine icing detail, and then install a dubious 'Georgian' rusticated render ground floor treatment in place of the Victoria', fully glazed, shop front and generous granite step at street level, is a gutless fudge IMO.

If you're going to restore the Georgian facade, restore the Georgian facade, don't nearly restore it and leave it half restored and half disfigured by retaining half the Victorian alterations!

I don't know where they got those railings, they look like something Trinity had left over from knocking down something on Westland Row.
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Re: National Gallery Extension

Postby tommyt » Mon Apr 14, 2008 12:51 pm

is it this building or the one next door that is supposed to have a ballroom on the first floor? would be great to see it come into some kind of public use if it is in this one...
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Re: National Gallery Extension

Postby notjim » Mon Apr 14, 2008 1:24 pm

This one had the ballroom in the backgarden, it is the building in the middle of the ground flood eatery.
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Re: National Gallery Extension

Postby Paul Clerkin » Mon Apr 14, 2008 2:07 pm

It's been under scaffoldiing for so long that I have trouble remembering - but didn't this have a decent Victorian shopfront?
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