Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby GrahamH » Sat Oct 06, 2007 8:44 pm

While I wouldn't quite go along with that weehamster, it certainly could have been interesting to have brick used in a crisp modern fashion along the lines of deB&M's new Cork Institute of Technology building. Indeed the decorative use of brick in an almost-blind elevation would have been treatment enough for the side facade, given gable ends rarely received architectural treatment in Dublin and so would continue to highlight the unique nature of the site, but nonetheless acknowledging that the facade is deserving of some treatment with a brick dressing.

Yes I think you cleared up neatly the problem of the side elevation, ctesiphon, both in itself and relative to the front facade. Indeed the busy all-consuming side facade does the exact opposite of what it should: essentially turning this secondary part of the building into the principal elevation - working completely against the grain of the street pattern and the sensitivity deserving of the location. The vast volume of windows looks greedy and uncouth - by contrast, the elegant and restrained 'I'm not really looking' tall vertical windows near the corner offer a clue as to what could have more considerately been used on this elevation. Essentially the front is appropriate to the side, and the side, well, appropriate to neither.

I agree with your whittling down of the 'signature' argument - there is indeed nothing worse than a case being made based upon an assumption. But I think this site is capable of adopting a signature building: 'signature' simply in terms of height and modernity which by definition is going to stand out at this location, not an 'iconic' design. The site is capable of an extra floor, the pleasing contrast in scale between the cemetery and its surroundings is heightened - and it in itself made more enclosed - and it achieves a better density. I think the scale is appropriate, the idiom of design is appropriate, the materials likewise, but the execution of the concept specific to this location is not.

Out of interest, why do you not think the building is appropriate to this location, ctesiphon? What would you have like to have seen - as with those who do not like it?
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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby massamann » Sat Oct 06, 2007 10:46 pm

Took some time out of my busy weekend :rolleyes: to have a look at this today. As said in earlier texts, the craftsmanship is certainly impressive. Three things jar with me however:

(a) The change in the parapet line. While it may well be true that it needed to be at that height for services to be fitted in, it was calling out to be recessed, even if only by a couple of feet, so that some consideration was given to continuiing the existing line.

(b) There is a nice interplay between the relatively sober street facade, and the almost-random abundance of glass to the side, but neither makes any attempt to interact with the rhythm of the windows in the nearby buildings. It's almost as if it exists and interacts only with itself, oblivious to its any context.

(c) The lack of context also carries into the choice of a grey stone for the facade. Again, while there is nothing wrong with this in itself, it ends up clashing with the materials on the rest of the streetscape, both in colour and dimension.

Any one - or even two - of these items I could happily live with. The three of them make it a much harder one to call. Still, I'm going to come down on the positive side - if only for the quality of the finish and the materials used. It's just a pity it wasn't standing somewhere on its own....
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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby jdivision » Mon Oct 08, 2007 11:57 am

GrahamH wrote:How could a heritage facade to the front and a modern block to the rear be described as meaningful, jdivision? Surely the direct opposite is the case.

.


Probably the incorrect word to use on my part. But basically a redbrick facade would have kept the terrace together rather than giving it a jarring sudden termination when walking towards St Stephens Green. From St Stephens Green the view would be of the the more modern block which would have allowed room for a more modern treatment
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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby GrahamH » Sun Feb 10, 2008 7:59 pm

10/2/2008

The Department is complete.

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Texture, sharpness, clarity, simplicity - the front elevation borders on the sublime.


A striking bronze railing has been erected along the basement void, soaring to two storeys in height to form the entrance.

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The basement railings continue the beautifully crafted pattern.

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They conceal the basement void behind, paved in more crisp limestone.

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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby GrahamH » Sun Feb 10, 2008 8:15 pm

The join with the red brick terrace of Merrion Row.

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The opposite end of the site deftly handles the awkward angle adjoining the Huguenot cemetery by means of a striking single-storey atrium.

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However the side elevation is unfortunately as unsuited to its context as it was the day it was unveiled.

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Busy, loud, dissrespectful to the cemetery, and lacking in understanding of the wider streetscape. A shame.

And purely for its own sake, it looks as though the elevations for two different buildings got mixed up and amalagamated.

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By all means the side elevation is of merit, but not at this location.


A blemish on an otherwise supremely accomplished building, the artistry of which we have not seen in Dublin in quite a while.

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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby StephenC » Mon Feb 11, 2008 9:23 am

You must have been up early Graham....not a humanoid in sight
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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby GrahamH » Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:28 am

Ugh - can't be doing with pesky people, less still them actually interacting with a building. The very notion!

A quietish Saturday morning and a matter of waiting ;)
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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby hutton » Mon Feb 11, 2008 10:37 am

Some great shots there Graham :)

GrahamH wrote:However the side elevation is unfortunately as unsuited to its context as it was the day it was unveiled...Busy, loud, and lacking in understanding of the wider streetscape. A shame.


I'll watch this building collect a rake of prizes I know, but at the same time yours is a fair assessment - it really is a tale of two buildings, and the building with todays gimmick of zig-zag windows will date :(

One area, so far not discussed, where I have concerns are the interesting preimeter railings. Without becoming a health-and-safety freak, am I alone in being perturbed that these railings, with their horizontal bars, make a perfect climbing frame - and that there is a danger that this

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could inadvertantly lead thru to such a massive drop as this -

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Should these railings (all be they visually interesting) really be left so finger-friendly for small children (or drunken rugby oafs) to climb?
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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby StephenC » Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:33 am

Its a fair point hutton....if a little depressing
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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby hutton » Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:35 am

StephenC wrote:Its a fair point hutton....if a little depressing


Thanks :o
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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby StephenC » Mon Feb 11, 2008 11:37 am

Well it is! No criticism of you but its an unfortunate feature of modern design that so many aspects need to be in some cases overly-vetted for safety, or vandalism or juvenile behaviour.
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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby shadow » Mon Feb 11, 2008 12:14 pm

All together now in your best swedish accents;

"Money Money Money"
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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby gunter » Mon Feb 11, 2008 3:51 pm

I can't help thinking that this building looks very familiar somehow. Wasn't there a comtemporary Roman baths or a spa or something by Peter Zumthor about ten years ago that used great blank areas of grey stone wall and frameless large windows, or am I thinking of something else?

I did a quick search, but I couldn't find the one I'm thinking of.
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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby ctesiphon » Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:28 pm

I'd say you're thinking of the thermal baths at Vals in Switzerland-

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http://www.reflected.ch/index.php?showimage=91
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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby gunter » Mon Feb 11, 2008 4:40 pm

That's the one. Thanks ctesiphon. My god, that is tasty.
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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby Kmccormack » Wed Sep 29, 2010 12:23 pm

Aside from the overall architectural merits/ demerits, the detailing is superb here- how did they form the panels to the cemetery side is hand laid masonry?? (someone told me Polish brickies were used so I am discounting that they are prefab panels of stone)

I noticed an early pic here showed a cast insitu conc. inner leaf with small projections and offsets- there must be relieving angles fixed to these walls with stone mechanically fixed/ adhered to the underside of these to give a monolithic appearance. The masonry is built off these. I also noticed on Stone Developments website the masonry units were 100mm wide (sanded Galway Limstone) and Grafton stated in their article in IA that the overall thickness of the wall is 425. Apparently the openable (recessed) glazing slides into the internal reveal to create a balcony like situation. So we are probably talking about 100mm ex. stone, 100mm cavity (with some form of insulation) 150mm inner 'leaf' of insitu concrete cast off the floor slabs and 75mm internal stud inc finishes....

The glazing is by Sean Billings (BDA ltd), who have done all the good glazing jobs in Ireland (and around the world it would seem- eg Michael Hopkins house in Hamstead), according to his website each panel is a 'pod' unit with integrated insulation and downpipes. This may be how they got around the tricky jamb detail in terms of insulation. The reference to downpipes may be how they have weathered the exposed tops of the glazing but I don't have a monkeys where the water goes to! It remains to be seen if it will weather well in the long run, I have seen streaks and water marks on the flush windows every time I pass it, the stone colour may help however (unlike the new Trinity Long Room Hub in Fellows Square- which although good will be less forgiven than Grafton's exercise in checkerboard).
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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby missarchi » Wed Sep 29, 2010 1:16 pm

Where are the chess pieces?
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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby samlauncher » Sat Jan 29, 2011 5:48 am

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Re: Department of Finance, Merrion Row - Grafton Architects

Postby PVC King » Sat Jan 29, 2011 11:00 am

Without a shadow of a doubt one of the best buildings done in Irish Commercial architecture and will like Carrolls be lauded for decades to come; sadly like Carrolls the occupants of the building really did not understand the bigger picture of the job they were engaged in or maybe they did but were unwilling to stick their heads above the parapet to call stop; if more attention were paid to the health and safety of the system versus errecting what are quite attractive railings......

One hopes that when the pick up happens that less speculative 'back office spec' development occurs at edge city and that high profile sites such as 65/71 Stephens Green, VHI on Abbey Street and Findlater House on OCS can receive a similar treatment to this plot; there are a lot of the mistakes of the 1980's still to be unwound on Dublin's Streets.

There are some great architectural practices in Dublin capable of very good work lets hope that the next round of FDI has an appetite for their work and are not funnelled into decentralisation mecca's such as Cahersiveen and Trim.
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