John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby searbh » Fri Feb 13, 2009 6:37 pm

I'm researching the history associated with the long saga of the attempts to establish and bring about the construction of a National Concert Hall in Ireland. So far it appears that a some preparatory work was actually carried out near Christ Church Place in or around 1963 and the discovery of viking remains caused the project to fail.

It also seems that in the following years there was quite a hefty discussion about building a "John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall" with an integrated "Kennedy Concert Hall", which progressed as far as the provision of a site in Ballsbridge and the holding of an architectural competition.

Does anybody know any more details on this whatsover? Or know more about the winning entry, possibly where one might find an image? Or even exactly which site in Ballsbridge was discussed?

Thank you,

s
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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby gunter » Fri Feb 13, 2009 6:51 pm

There's a perspective drawing of it in Freddy O'Dwyer's 'Lost Dublin', the version that would have been on the Beggars Bush site, as far as I know.
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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby Paul Clerkin » Fri Feb 13, 2009 7:03 pm

Look at "God's Architect: A Life of Raymond McGrath"
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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby goneill » Fri Feb 13, 2009 7:15 pm

There is a plan of it on the wall of the Beggar's Bush Pub. Also there is a photo of the original terrace of shop-houses on the site of the pub which were mostly torn down to make way for the JFK. For many years Mr Ryan operated out of what looked like a shack (of which there is also a photo on the wall) , but was actually the surviving ground floor of one of the buildings. I believe that when the present pastiche pub was buit in 1988 the plan of the bar was copied from the original. Ewan Ryan originally operated the re-built pub and I think he is the son of the previous Ryan. I think he retires and/or sold it to a cousin who now runs it, but I'm a bit hazy about that. And a recessionary tip, I think a pint of Beamish is only €3.50!
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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby goneill » Fri Feb 13, 2009 7:17 pm

I'd be surprised if there was a competition - it was an OPW project.
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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby GrahamH » Fri Feb 13, 2009 10:58 pm

Yep, God's Architect details the project. Tricky to get hold of now, but I think I recall seeing a copy in the Irish Architectural Archive. The building itself was quite dynamic, comprised of layered and cantilevered cast concrete if I remember correctly.

It seems McGrath never quite got over the ditching of his concert hall, especially with it being one of the last in a long list of shelved projects. When you consider the illustrious career he had in London and the UK before coming to Dublin, it must have been quite disheartening to see Ireland, and thus his career, stagnate for his term of office (right up to 1968). Surely he would have pulled out sooner had he known what lay ahead? It must have been even more frustrating to have his spectacular talent languish at a time when Britain was booming after the War. At least we have many of his modest improving projects and restorations to appreciate, but if ever there was a case of a caged bird, this was surely one of them.
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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby gunter » Sat Feb 14, 2009 12:17 am

from 'Lost Dublin'

Image
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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby GrahamH » Sat Feb 14, 2009 12:43 am

Aha!

Okay, so not quite cantilevered, though a model I saw of it somewhere looked distinctly more aerodynamic. That main entrance pavilion rings a more recent recognisable bell that I can't quite place - STW's Citibank merged with a dash of Benson and Forsyth glazing perhaps...
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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby Paul Clerkin » Sat Feb 14, 2009 1:28 am

Some images from the book

jfk_hall_3.jpg

jfk_hall_1.jpg
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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby Paul Clerkin » Sat Feb 14, 2009 1:29 am

GrahamH wrote:Yep, God's Architect details the project. Tricky to get hold of now, but I think I recall seeing a copy in the Irish Architectural Archive. The building itself was quite dynamic, comprised of layered and cantilevered cast concrete if I remember correctly.

It seems McGrath never quite got over the ditching of his concert hall, especially with it being one of the last in a long list of shelved projects. When you consider the illustrious career he had in London and the UK before coming to Dublin, it must have been quite disheartening to see Ireland, and thus his career, stagnate for his term of office (right up to 1968). Surely he would have pulled out sooner had he known what lay ahead? It must have been even more frustrating to have his spectacular talent languish at a time when Britain was booming after the War. At least we have many of his modest improving projects and restorations to appreciate, but if ever there was a case of a caged bird, this was surely one of them.


There was also a lot of interference from Michael Scott who wanted the commission and had the right ears to work against it.
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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby ctesiphon » Sat Feb 14, 2009 10:56 am

The aerial photo with the trees- where is that?
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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby goneill » Sat Feb 14, 2009 11:45 am

St Anne's Park
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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby goneill » Sat Feb 14, 2009 11:46 am

....Though I'm surprised the causeway was built as early as 1970. Maybe the plan to move it from BB to St Anne's was much later.
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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby kefu » Sat Feb 14, 2009 11:55 am

St Anne's would be a terrific location for a concert hall, preferably with some kind of outdoor amphitheatre [a la small Hollywood Bowl] combined into it.
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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby dc3 » Mon Feb 16, 2009 11:29 am

The sketches seem to me to draw on the Helsinki Concert Hall, then new.

One of the problems that also helped put this project into the deep freeze was disputes over the future location of the facility.

If I recall correctly, sites suggested, at various times, were

Ballsbridge (the army barracks site)
Phoenix Park (this one ran a long time)
St Annes
A site near the then Cattle Market in Phibsboro (Was this the place where the large office block was built?)
Santry Demesne ( somewhere near Stadium, then itself named after JFK, but it has since lost that title in a curious sign of changing times).
Perhaps more.

Of course, there was never any money for the project, and the closure and demolition of the Theatre Royal in 1962, clearly showed how little appetite there was for big theatre / concert venues in Ireland at that time. It was dead, but not admitted to be dead, for a long time.
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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby thebig C » Sat Mar 05, 2011 9:53 pm

Interesting thread. Another case of an architectural "what might have been" of which Dublin has many. It would have undoubtedly been a fairly good building for its era but you would wonder how it would have aged.

I note that the text in Gunters post above refers to "a tower block and new National Library" also being proposed for the Beggars Bush site.

I had heard of the tower proposal before. Its mentioned in the Destruction of Dublin. It was to be 20 storeys, fronting a reflecting pool and flanked by lower office blocks.

I can't find any other references, even in "Building for Government" which is a decent book. Can anybody post any renders or further info on both the Tower and National Library?? Given that they were OPW projects surely there is something out there?!

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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby thebig C » Tue Sep 25, 2012 8:00 pm

Wow....forgot I posted that question...and here I am still looking for answers:)

The Dept of Health is certainly not illustrated in "Gods Architect" however, Frank McDonald alludes to it in the "Destruction of Dublin" including technical data such as height etc.

Anybody have any pics?

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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby Paul Clerkin » Wed Sep 26, 2012 4:10 pm

Yeah the schemes for Beggars Bush seems to have come up from time to time - they clearly wanted to build something on it - but never seen an image from any of the suggestions.
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Re: John F. Kennedy Memorial Hall

Postby thebig C » Sat Sep 29, 2012 12:08 am

Thanks PC! Well if you haven't seen any images I guess they may not exist:)

Its strange, in Destruction of Dublin, Frank McDonald is fairly precise. He describes the proposal as a 20 storey tower fronting onto a reflective lake and flanked by 2 3 storey blocks in a 60s paladian style. He even lists the height at 257ft (78m). So on that basis, there must have been plans submitted to the Local Authority. I found a ref in the Dail records confirming that planning was proceeding (mid 1960s).

Actually, I have noticed that there is a distinct lack of drawings/illustrations to accompany various proposals from the 60s/70s. This is a contrast to other unbuilt projects of this era in the UK where illustrations were quite common in Newspapers etc. Perhaps, Developers were trying to "fly below the radar" and get monoliths through planning:) I have to say though, there are a handfull of these projects that I would love to see renders of....such as the Original ILAC Centre proposals with its twin 14 storey office blocks and Hotel, the 56 storey proposal for the Williams and Woods site or the trio of 12 storey glazed blocks for Wilton Place.

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