Even so. were it not for the outmoded floor levels and circulation issues etc, I wouldn't be in any rush to replace the facade of the building - at best it'd be a 50/50 scenario when comparing this with the potential reinstatement of houses. If it is a foregone conclusion (which is I suspect it is) that a contemporary insertion is the desired option, it would be a shame to have Gibney's elegant facade replaced by something as equally incongruous on the streetscape, only simply more so by losing the very potent connection that the current structure has to the heritage of the site. At least what is currently there is honesty at its most raw. Would an uber-chic, intellectually contextual concoction hold quite the same appeal? The answer is that, as with all such matters, everything is relative and at least in part ideologically informed.
The reinstatement of the houses would of course be fraught with its own difficulties: do you build them all of the same brick as a unified scheme as an 18th century developer would have done, or replicate subtle deviations from pair to pair as if built by multiple persons? If sufficient records do not survive, do you execute this arbitrarily? What about later additions such as Victorian plate windows, balconies or other ironwork?
mp, of course reinstating the houses is not something to be repeated on a wider level, but contained to such a notorious site, all passions and ideologies aside, I think it would be quite a curious exercise - on an international level at that. Even if something to be completely derided, it's still unquestionably interesting. Frankly we have reached a stage (whilst not advocating mediocrity) that whatever fills this site, above and beyond all other contentious cases over the years, shall stand as a monument to this generation's (or this generation's professions') outlook on the built environment.
Still have an open mind though. I have some thoughts in my mind's eye but I cannot articulate them. How convenient.