ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby Deadonarrival » Mon May 14, 2007 10:06 am

Can anyone confirm if the ILAC Library is really moving to the Ambassador theatre?
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby newgrange » Mon May 14, 2007 2:52 pm

The deputy Lord Mayor seems to think so.
From: http://www.unison.ie/irish_independent/stories.php3?ca=9&si=1828419&issue_id=15615

Literary city 'not literate'

THE relocation of Dublin's central library to the Ambassador Theatre will be a "bold statement" for the city, it was claimed yesterday.

Dublin Deputy Lord Mayor Cllr Aodhan O Riordain said he welcomed the decision to move the library from its current location on the first floor of the ILAC shopping centre.

However, he said there was a need to make our literary city a literate city.

"In some areas over 30pc of children have basic reading problems and our city needs to make a symbolic gesture in promoting literacy and reading skills."
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby notjim » Mon May 14, 2007 4:34 pm

Nice idea, we need a prominent, prestigeous, city library, but the ambassador, much too small surely?
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby Urban_Form » Mon May 14, 2007 5:04 pm

Maybe they can build a big ugly extension onto it?
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby TLM » Mon May 14, 2007 5:12 pm

This would tie in with the planned Irish Writers Museum and other cultural uses planned for Parnell Square but wouldn't be the liveliest use for the theatre. The Parnell Square development plan envisaged the theatre becoming a cabaret space - though in practice that could have been pretty tacky too.
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby newgrange » Tue May 15, 2007 4:55 pm

I emailed the Central Library and asked them - this is their reply:
Re-location of the Central Library to the Ambassador site is one of a number of proposals under active consideration by Dublin City Council. No firm decision to proceed is in place. A feasability study is currently under way, results awaited.
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby manifesta » Tue May 15, 2007 7:04 pm

Here’s a feasibility study for where not to house a library: inside a shopping center. It’s symbolically troubling that for years a supposed hub of public literacy has been trapped inside a maze of shops and kiosks, its entrance totally obscured from the street. The fact that ‘ILAC library’ has become acceptable shorthand for Dublin's Central Public Library implies a resignation about the decision, as if we could expect nothing better than to go hunting for our out-of-print books on out-of-date computers in a fast-paced, intellectually numbing swirl of commerce. Architecturally it made no sense and on the most practical level, it required a complete cognitive leap of faith for the outsider to go searching for a major city’s main library entrance inside – not next to – a shopping center.

It would be great to see the Central Library relocated to Ambassador for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that libraries deserve to be housed in an architecture that is impressive, highly visible, and respectful. Not upstairs from Dunnes Stores with packets of Pickled Onion Meanies crumpled beneath the stairwell. You should be invited into a library, not scared away from it or forced to go hunting for it. A more visible and prominent location could only help, and as previously pointed out, the tie-in with the proposed expanded Writers Museum would make sense.

If limited space becomes an issue, then why not go all the way and house the library inside the as-yet-unbuilt Libeskind theatre? It would be a better use of space, plus more people could enjoy the quirky Martha Schwartz plaza during the day. I’m all for a theatre here and there, but a decent library is certainly a more universally appealing amenity.
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby notjim » Tue May 15, 2007 9:32 pm

I understand that Dublin has lots of historic buildings needing an imaginative new use, but I don't think this is a good idea with a library, they really do suit a purpose build building and can work so much better if they are well designed. I amn't saying there aren't good old library or that there aren't lots of good ways of finding new uses for old buildings, but I think it is a good idea to reuse as a library an old building designed for a different purpose. There must be a good site around between decentralization, DIT moving and I guess some of the maternity hospitals closing down.
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby Paul Clerkin » Tue May 15, 2007 9:43 pm

I would tend to agree - a new purpose built library, maintain the GPO as a functioning Post office and put the 1916 museum into the ambassador
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby StephenC » Thu May 24, 2007 2:30 pm

Another option for the Library within the Parnell Sq Quarter would be the old Scoil Mhuire site earlier suggested for the Abbey.
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby Peter Fitz » Tue Sep 04, 2007 12:37 am

Ambassador library plan gets the go-ahead (RTE News)
Monday, 3 September 2007 20:42

A proposal to move Dublin's central library into the Ambassador cinema building on Parnell St has been given the go-ahead by city councillors.

The city council will become sub-tenants paying €1.2m annually in rent and €11.8m for fitout and tax costs if the scheme receives planning approval.

Some councillors complained there had been a lack of information about the project but City Manager, John Tierney, said negotiations were complicated and essentially involved a public-private partnership.

AdvertisementThe Millennium Theatre Company is the current leaseholder of the Ambassador building, which was built as a theatre in the 18th century and is owned by the Rotunda Hospital.



Reasonably happy about this, perhaps not the best outcome, but far from the worst.

Decent prominent location, will finally lift the Ambassador out of obscurity & establish its future. 11.8m to refurbish the existing structure would be some fit out ? perhaps some sort of extension on the way, as others have mentioned, space looks to be an issue.
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby jdivision » Tue Sep 04, 2007 10:17 am

Ridiculous price to be paying on fitout. Got MCD out of a bit of a hole though.
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby GrahamH » Sun Sep 09, 2007 12:30 am

This is great news. I think it's a perfect location for the Central Library (presuming it's big enough), right in the heart of the soon-to-be invigorated Parnell Square, and puts this important iconic building to public use. And round buildings are synonymous with libraries :). The only downside is the eschewing of the chance for a striking public new-build in the city, but the restoration is at least a decent trade-off. I don't think €12m is excessive - this needs to be a seriously decent fitout for the 21st century.

I wonder though if the €12m covers the cost of external restoration and conservation - which is desperately needed - or will MCD cover the costs of that seperately? (assuming they still own it). There is so much potential in terms of cleaning, reinstatements, landscaping, innovative signage, and creative floodlighting. In particular I'd like to see the great upturned saucer roof illuminated from the base, next to a strikingly lit Parnell Monument.

Finally this curious complex of buildings will receive some long-term commitment; it's been rightly fecked over by commerical operators over the years, and acts as a dead weight at the top of the street during daylight hours. And what a draw the Library will be for Upper O'Connell Street too - this just ticks all the right boxes. Lets face it, nothing short of a major, popular public institution is going to draw people northwards to the extent that's needed: the Central Library should do just that.
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby notjim » Sun Sep 09, 2007 12:36 am

I agree with this with the one worry that it is hard to believe that it is large enough. Is there space beyond what you see when you go to a concert there?

On a similar note, when the rotunda was built it had the pleasure gardens, the gate, the ambassador and something called the pillar room? What is that used for now?
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby GrahamH » Sun Sep 09, 2007 12:51 am

Not sure notjim, but I think it's still there along with other grand Georgian rooms that aren't open to the public, the Gate auditorium aside. Indeed it would be fantastic if these could somehow be incorporated into the scheme, should the Gate be willing to get in on the act.

Indeed I think much of the grand Ambassador auditorium interior also survives in some shape or form - again so much exciting potential for the layer-stripper-backers.
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby alonso » Sun Sep 09, 2007 12:39 pm

well the backstage area is pretty small, so there isn't much more than the main area. But the actual stage itself is massive. It'll be interesting to see what's done with the balcony. It's a sloping terrace at the moment, so i presume that'll have to go? Also a music venue always seems smaller than it actually is. I remember doing exams in sports halls and thinking they always looked gigantic with the desks in, but tiny during a football match or somethin. I presume size was the main consideration during site selection.
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby newgrange » Sun Sep 09, 2007 4:50 pm

notjim wrote:On a similar note, when the rotunda was built it had the pleasure gardens, the gate, the ambassador and something called the pillar room? What is that used for now?


The Pillar Room is under the theatre. I think it's mostly used for private dining occasions now, though I know the Rotunda used to use it for some lectures or conferences.
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby GrahamH » Mon Sep 10, 2007 1:32 am

Yup newgrange – Christine Casey does a good explanation of the layout. Apparently it was formerly the Ballroom, and is almost perfectly intact from the 1780s, as is the ground floor Tea Room and to a large extent the large Supper Room – now the principal auditorium at first floor level. Only the small Supper Room it seems has vanished.


The more I think about this proposal, the better it gets: the Central Library really couldn’t be any more ideal for this site and this part of the city. It’s going to act as an enormous draw to this neglected part of town, and is the lifeline it has needed for decades. Nothing else would have the pulling-power that's needed during the day

The Ambassador / former Assembly Rooms complex is a fascinating collection of buildings, and has intrigued me and no doubt most people for years. For some reason it’s the one building that always stood out for me coming into Dublin as a child (along with the bizarre copper mansard roof of the Nursing building in the middle of the Square!) – the theatre being a strange mix of classical design and modern interventions. I could never quite make out when it was built, or what it was used for. It was always quite sinister and foreboding: the curious round shape, the muddled projections, the creepily blank facades and inward-looking character, the grim grey stucco, the weird 1950’s lighting suggesting a long-forgotten former use...

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The potential – not just for this building, but its wider environs too – is simply enormous, and cannot be underestimated. It’s a delightfully picturesque, rambling part of the city that is ideal for a strong pedestrian focus and leisure use, offering a refreshing contrast to the formality of the grid plan of the O’Connell Street area.

The sweeping curving arcade to Cavendish Row and expansive paving has great potential for café use, with tables spilling out from the arches or just elegant floor-to-ceiling Georgian windows. What a unique feature in the city.

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Interesting remnant of sturdy 1950’s municipal furniture here.

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Perhaps with manicured potted plants in the niches.

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Always loved these 1950’s lamps! – it’d be a shame to see them go really.

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Similarly regarding the other picturesque side – perhaps more suitable given it’s even more secluded here, with bucket loads of space for dining.

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The Rotunda’s colonnade is in a dismal condition at the minute: it’s used as a keg store.

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Castle’s elegant colonnade could be the making of this scheme – it’s one of the prettiest pieces of architecture in the city, sweeping round with a charming little slated roof, contrasting perfectly with the great circular hulk looming above it.

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It’s the ideal link between the Library scheme and the soon-to be-rejuvenated Rotunda forecourt. As part of the Parnell Square Framework Plan, it is proposed that the hospital spend in the region of €600,000 in removing car parking, landscaping the forecourt, and carrying out other improvement works. No timeframe is given unfortunately – it seems the car parking is dependent on the development of underground facilities to the rear, which are a long-term goal.

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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby GrahamH » Mon Sep 10, 2007 1:46 am

To have a grand plaza area around the Parnell Monument and Library entrance directly linking into the quieter, greener landscaped grounds of the Rotunda would be fantastic.

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Parnell Square Framework Plan

In the long term it is also proposed to open the main entrance door of the hospital directly to the public, and indeed the majority of the central 1750’s building, including the Chapel. What a transformation it would yield, especially coupled with adjacent street works which are set to get underway in the short-medium term in a style similar to O’Connell Street.


Though notorious for artistic licence, the scene presented to us today is a lot different to that of Malton’s view back in 1795. Indeed it's simply not possible to stand that far back across the road - maybe it was in the late 18th century...

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Here’s the Rotunda/Ambassador from the same date – it gives us some idea of the appearance of John Ensor’s original round room, though already modified with Gandon’s famous Coade stone decoration here.

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The beautifully proportioned pavilion-like entrance to the front was also added by Gandon, seen here c. 1870.

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And survived unaltered right up until the 1950s, along with original railings and lamp standards...

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© RTÉ


...until it was sadly modified shortly after this picture was taken, in tandem with the cinema refurbishment. The swags to either side survive behind the sign, but the trademark Gandon arch was filled in flush :(

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Interestingly, it seems the original columns were pragmatically – and badly – recycled in the new scheme. The original rusticated blocks were also roughly reconfigured, minus the niches. Given much of this needs to be dismantled and properly rebuilt, perhaps the original Gandon entrance should be reinstated, thus restoring the building's pavilion-like quality, as below with the east elevation.

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Some of the Coade stone dressings are also in serious need of conservation work. Most of it just needs a good clean.

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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby GrahamH » Mon Sep 10, 2007 1:55 am

But more serious interventions are also required to the west side :eek:

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Some serious water damage going on here. Nothing short of wholescale reproduction is in order in parts.

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Some nasty interventions also require removal elsewhere – the finesse is striking.

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As with eh, the entire storey the tank is perched on...

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And the distinctive plaques need attention too of course.

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All tying in with a widened pavement around the corner outside the Gate.

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There’s a fascinating view of the exposed pavement underworld here at the minute – the enormous electrical supply emanating from the adjoining (nicely designed) substation.

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Anyway, there’s a huge amount of work to be done here; in the context of what’s required, €11.8 million isn’t exactly extortionate.

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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby kefu » Mon Sep 10, 2007 12:50 pm

The notion of having the two most important libraries in the city in matching round rooms is also terrific.
Can not think of a better place for this although would be curious at to what will happen the old premises. It's quite large and maybe Dunnes might take it on as an extension to their shop although they've considerable presence in the area. It's not a major worry because even if it was empty, you wouldn't notice.
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby Zap » Sun Dec 16, 2007 2:14 pm

New Role for Ambassador

One of the oldest theatres in the state, the Ambassador, is to be redeveloped as a new Dublin Central Library under exciting new plans which form part of Dublin City Council's €80 million framework for Parnell Square.

The plans involve the relocation of the existing Central Library from the Ilac Centre where it has been based since 1986. The Central Library receives roughly half a million visitors every year who avail of the many services available. There has been a huge redevelopment of the area recently and in particular in the Ilac Centre itself.

The intention is to provide a library of approximately 3,300 sq. m. (the current library is 2,124 sq. m.). A new glazed structure between the Ambassador building and the gable end of the Rotunda Hospital will provide additional space for the library.
The current Central Library building suffers from a poor location, no public visibility or on-street presence, as well as a lack of space for exhibitions, study, lectures or programmed learning.
The Ambassador building offers a supreme location at the Parnell Square end of Dublin's main thoroughfare - O'Connell Street. It also addresses the need for a high-profile on-street presence enabling opportunities to maximise public awareness of and access to the library. With its new location it is hoped that the Central Library will attract more visitors including the many tourists who visit the O'Connell Street area.

The new facility will allow enhancements in the range of services offered at the Central Library which will include ample dedicated exhibition and study space, facilities for programmed learning and for lectures, tutorials and seminars, all of which are important aspects of supporting life-long learning.

The Ambassador building opened as a theatre in order to raise funds for the Rotunda Hospital which opened next door in the 1750s. The hospital still owns the building. Over the years the building has been used as a cinema and in more recent times as a music venue.
As the Ambassador is a protected structure, the above proposal will be subject to planning legislation. It is now proposed to undertake the required planning process.
When the final plans are ready they will be put on display and the public will be given an opportunity during this time to make comments on the proposal.

(article reference Dublin City News, Issue 1, December 2007)
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby Zap » Sun Dec 16, 2007 2:24 pm

[removed duplicate post]
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby Zap » Sun Dec 16, 2007 2:30 pm

On the whole, I think this is great and that was my immediate first thought - I've always hated the ILAC, which for me wouldn't even equate to a good suburban library, let alone the central library of the capital city.

My concerns are the same as expressed by others of the thread - namely size and suitability. Dublin should have a suitability sized and appropriate library. It should be large and exhaustive in its resources. I don't know if the Ambassador will provide the space for this. The location could not be better though.

My preference would be a new library for the redeveloped Fingal headquarters - when was the last time a large public building built in Dublin?

Still though, a great improvement.
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Re: ILAC Library for Ambassador Theatre?

Postby GrahamH » Sun Dec 16, 2007 6:26 pm

Indeed, the increase in floorspace isn't exactly enormous, nor is the capacity to expand in the future. But, if it's thought to be suitable, well they're the experts...

What is of concern though is.

A new glazed structure between the Ambassador building and the gable end of the Rotunda Hospital will provide additional space for the library.


Surely this isn't going to be the Hugh Lane all over again?! Please in the name of all that's sane do not let this be another "oh but it's only glass, it doesn't actually exist" infill extension.
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