O' Connell Street, Dublin

Re: O' Connell Street

Postby missarchi » Thu Jul 09, 2009 11:33 pm

lostexpectation wrote:david norris on hook on newstalk talking about making the gpo into the new abbey theatre, he says there is room, and that he got bolten street architecture students do it as the final year project, anyone familiar with bolten street find out more about that and if we can see on not much on their site.


Is it going to end up in some magazines or what?
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby GregF » Fri Jul 10, 2009 12:29 am

lostexpectation wrote:david norris on hook on newstalk talking about making the gpo into the new abbey theatre, he says there is room, and that he got bolten street architecture students do it as the final year project, anyone familiar with bolten street find out more about that and if we can see them, not much on their site.



I think this is a ludicrous idea. Definitely a no no. There is way too much fucking around with historic buildings.

BTW, Norris cushy job as a senator as well as the rest in the talking shop is a waste of taxpayers money, especially in these credit crunch times and a Taoiseach already robbing the good people.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby lostexpectation » Fri Jul 10, 2009 1:10 pm

he said cos most of was rebuilt after the rising their ain't much historic there to protect.*shrug*
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby rumpelstiltskin » Fri Jul 10, 2009 2:31 pm

Since the Abbey Theatre is as important to this country as the Globe Theatre is to England, surely rebuilding it in its original form would be the most sensible option, to give people an idea of where one of the most important chapters in our cultural history took place.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby missarchi » Fri Jul 10, 2009 2:47 pm

they still hinting at the docks...
Preparation of international design competition... how long has that been going on for?
We had something kinda the same built here last year and they had a model built in the UK for 50k just to test the acoustics... beautiful project but metro stations are more important...
Is it just me how many theatres/ect are there in Dublin? seems more than enough?
Does the one in Waterford get used 12 hours a day 7 days a week?
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby jimg » Mon Jul 13, 2009 9:01 pm

EIA340600, when I used the expression "makey uppy bollox" I wasn't referring to the semantics or grammar of the expression; I was referring to it's cultural hollowness.

There were more Yola and Fingalian speakers in Ireland at one stage than there are currently Irish speakers. There is a Scandinavian/Viking origin to many of our place names. Hiberno-English itself is a remarkable cultural artifact as it combines English vocabulary with Irish grammar. You will never hear a non-Irish English speaker say something like "I am after going to the shops"; instead the standard English perfect tense is used - "I have gone to the shops". The former is almost a word for word translation of how the missing perfect tense is approximated in Irish ("Tá mé tar eis dul go dti na siopaí"); similarly the lack of Irish words for "yes" or "no" is reflected by the way we generally answer questions by repeating the verb back. We may even see the Poles leave an impact if enough of them hang around. We also had a significant number of French speakers at various times. Unfortunately all this linguistic culture and richness has been destroyed by politicisation (the shinner's behavior with this sign being a typical example) and the attempt to portray the linguistic history of the country in simplistic childish terms as a war between good native Irish and evil imperial English. Trying to Hibernicise places which never had a culture of Irish is no more admirable than the attempts to eradicate Irish in earlier centuries. I'm not a great fan but Heaney's introduction to his translation of Beowolf is worth a read as it describes how he suddenly realised that thinking in terms of Irish v. English was bollox.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby missarchi » Mon Jul 13, 2009 10:55 pm

In many countries you just wouldn't get away with this...

http://www.hughpearman.com/2009/15.html

is classified as a work of art, and this allows it to sidestep the usual stifling regulations that surround such things. Bravo!

would the DOE take note?
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby GrahamH » Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:31 am

Now that's some quality paving! (and architecture)


In assessing the flagship buildings of Lower O’Connell Street as rebuilt post-1916, it is easy to gloss over the most muted of this otherwise ebullient ensemble of structures, dressed as they are for the most part in a decorous cloak of stripped neoclassical pretension. By contrast, the corner building at No. 45-46 Lower O’Connell Street, sited at the junction with Middle Abbey Street, is without question the structure that is most expressive of the rational modern ideal, if sadly also the least illustrious of all the major buildings arising from the reconstructions. Indeed, taking account of its role as a pivotal corner building, it is probably the poorest design realised at this time relative to its siting and streetscape function.

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Comprising one of the four ceremonial corners which denote the first major intersection on O’Connell Street, No. 45-46 is awkwardly upstaged by its eminently more refined trio of colleagues on the opposing sides, executed by the established architectural houses of Bachelor & Hicks, McDonnell & Dixon and W. H. Byrne & Son. Medium to large-scale practices, they played a prominent role in the Dublin architectural scene of the early 20th century.

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The architect of No. 45-46 was also, perhaps surprisingly, a leading figure in Dublin commercial architecture of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Indeed, he almost single-handedly built and rebuilt large tracts of the north inner city before and after 1916, in some cases even rebuilding premises he had only designed a matter of months before the Rising took place. His successful career as architect to Dublin commercial interests appears to have been based upon the major coup of acquiring the commission for the largest retail development in Dublin of the late Victorian period – namely the construction of Arnotts department store. This man was one George Palmer Beater.

Beater was undeniably a promoter of brick. Nearly all of his developments make abundant, often exclusive, use of the material in all its glossy, precision-machined perfection, if to rather glum effect. His buildings have a sullen, leaden character, regularly exuding that stuffy, closeted, Edwardian institutional sobriety which so fails to attract the eye or lift the spirit. Nonetheless, some designs do exhibit a curiously detailed, bordering on sinister, character which injects a morbid interest into the streetscape – his Hibernian Bible Society on Dawson Street ironically being such an example.

No. 45-46 O'Connell Street sits on the site of two former Wide Streets Commission terraced buildings of the 1780s, the corner one of which originally featured a tripartite window at first floor level demarcating the end of the terrace in typically reticent Georgian style, as with all WSC terraces on then Lower Sackville Street. Need the stark contrast in architectural thought in little over a century regarding the design treatment of urban corners even be noted...

Constructed in 1917-18, the erection of the new building was overseen by contractors J. & W. Stewart. Here it can be seen in 1923 facing the sparkling new Manfield Chambers across the road.

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And for what it’s worth, again in the 1940s, where little has changed (aside from the completion of the Metropole) other than the colour of the buildings!

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A solitary clue remains on the exterior of the building today as to the client and intended occupier of this flagship new premises: the small granite ledge which protrudes above the fascia at first floor level.

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An innocuous enough feature, it could easily be construed as a frivolous feature balcony stripped of a long-lost railing.

Not so. It was purpose-designed for hosting none other than an elephant!

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A wider view reveals all. It was of course to become the new premises of J. W. Elvery & Company, the sportswear suppliers – the elephant their well known logo.

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No. 45-46 was pioneering on O’Connell Street for its time in its expression of structural form in the manner of the Chicago School: the internal concrete frame clearly expressed to the exterior through the use of narrow granite-clad pilasters framing double-height ranks of fenestration. In this respect, this building pre-dates the much-noted Clerys department store across the road by at least a year, where a similar design approach was taken.

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The voids between the piers are filled with ambitiously scaled, cast-iron canted bays of double-height windows made by the MacFarlane & Company ironworks at their Saracen Foundry in Scotland.

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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby GrahamH » Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:36 am

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The windows pivot with an airy lightness of touch, as do the upper horizontal lights.

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The panes are composed of eye-catching flashing leaded lights, many of which have survived such as below, though some have been replaced with modern sheet glass with applied leading strips.

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Each apron panel is festooned with a frothy neoclassical swag of eyebrow-raising affectation, flanked by a panel on either side, which combined with the latter-day addition of milkshake pink into the mix, makes for a bizarre effeminate touch on what is a thoroughly masculine building.

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The uppermost two storeys are faced in brick dressed with granite, including a heavy dividing dentilated cornice. This double-pile of attic storeys is probably the building’s most ill-conceived feature, clearly attempting to grapple with a problem faced by many of the post-1916 architects: how to articulate the two storeys left over above a two-storey monumental order above ground floor level. The traditional Georgian attic storey solution is thrown into disarray. McDonnell & Dixon cleverly skirted around the problem across the road with what is now The Grand Central Bar, by introducing a mezzanine immediately above shopfront level to absorb the excess height – it works to perfection. Eason’s double-height attic solution is passable, while Manfield Chamber gets away with its top-heavy composition by virtue of the broodiness of its architecture alone.

No. 45-46 has no such excuse alas, with its attic storeys appearing as little more than an exercise in copy and paste. Pairs of sash windows, the only timber windows in the front facade incidentally, are an inadequate point of difference to the cast-iron tripartite frames and granite dressings below.

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The pilastered treatment of the brickwork here can be seen over and over again in Beater’s work, most famously at Arnotts.

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The square tower with Romanesque flourishes also bears a resemblance.

More pilasters and indeed the same type of brick can be observed at Beater’s No. 93 Middle Abbey Street, as well as leaded-light windows with swagged apron panels.

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More of the same by Beater can be seen executed in glazed terracotta directly next door at Abbey Chambers of 1920. The involvement of another architectural practice, Bachelor & Hicks, in the drafting of this scenic and largely well detailed design, comes as no surprise.

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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby GrahamH » Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:40 am

A further shared feature between Abbey Chambers and No. 45-46 is the carriage entrance to the side. Both have a corbel placed at an angle to the street.

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(if No. 45-46 slightly, eh, grazed)

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This brings us neatly to ground floor level and the expansive original shopfront.

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Much of the 1918 shopfront survives, elegantly composed of pilasters of polished black marble. The capitals are refined and simply detailed, with handsome dado and skirting at lower level.

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Of course the refinement of the original shopfront has long since been lost with the hideous intrusion of chunky and garish white aluminium-framed glazing, made all the worse by the sloping inwards of the upper panes and the infilling of newly exposed areas with cheap imitation cladding.

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Lovely.

The white aluminium is particularly crass on the corner bay.

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Wholly illegal postering and advertising across the board makes for the icing on the cake.

Taking a closer look at the original shopfront, it appears to have been glazed with timber-framed windows – I doubt luxurious bronze would have been used for such a relatively frugal structure. The leaded upper panes also suggest carved timber as a host framing material.

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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby GrahamH » Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:46 am

It can also be seen that the original fascia with granite moulding has since been replaced with a remarkably similar matching modern stone to form a broader fascia, that while not as elegant as the original, and dropping below pilaster capital level, does a good job.

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Lovely refined raised metal lettering there too. How design comes full circle...

Granite end corbels complete the ensemble.

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Returning to the lofty heights of the upper floors again, the stumpy tower with its distinctive copper dome has its charms, even if it is absorbed into the attic storeys like someone with their neck pushed down into their shoulders.

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Attractive from some angles nonetheless.

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The shape of the dome is discernibly a flattened version of Arnotts’ of twenty years previous, as removed in the 1940s.

Sadly the original little urn finial has vanished and warrants reinstatement.

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A pairing of Romanesque windows, also harking back to Arnotts. Some pretty leadwork too, if only for the viewing pleasure of pigeons.

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A broken granite pediment provides interest immediately below.

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The rear of the building is built of yellow stock brick characteristic of the era. The usual obsessive one-window-per-lavatory-cubicle arrangement evident too!

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Some leaded timber casements and other curiosities also survive.

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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby GrahamH » Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:51 am

In conclusion, what can be done to improve the appearance and architectural coherence of the building? Well pretty self-explanatory measures really, the most pressing of all being the removal of the aluminium shopfront glazing and its replacement with something altogether more in keeping with the appearance of the building. Well crafted timber or bronze framing would work wonders. All postering needs to be stamped out immediately and could be done in the morning if the will was there to implement the O’Connell Street Special Planning Control Scheme. The permanenet cluttering Christmas light nets at upper storey level also require removal.

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A further move I would suggest is the complete repainting of the cast-iron bays in a dark, almost black colour or brown colour, giving the sultry appearance of luxurious bronze inserts as was commonplace in the early 20th century. Indeed as early as the 1940s we have evidence of the windows being painted in precisely that manner (as with all of O’Connell Street Lower until the 1970s or so).

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And again more clearly in the 1950s, with the neighbouring Wide Streets Commission pair still intact.

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Painting the bays a dark shade would inject a much-needed spark of sophistication to this rather gawky building. All we need is some guidance from those in authority and with the incentives to make it happen!

G. P. Beater was 67 when he designed No. 45-46 Lower O’Connell Street. It appears this was his last large project in Dublin city centre along with the contemporaneous Abbey Chambers nearby. While his O’Connell Street building has its qualities, in particular its grandiose scale and massing when observed from a distance, one tends to feel that Abbey Chambers stands as a better monument to the skills and creativity of the quiet, unassuming man who proved an enduring figure in the Dublin architectural world at the turn of the last century.

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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby Peter Fitz » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:37 am

Nice work Graham ;)
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby reddy » Tue Jul 21, 2009 8:52 am

Fair play to ya Graham. These are a great resource.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby johnglas » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:48 am

Brilliant exposition of how it should not be done; we are obsessed with the notion of 'progress', yet GH has clearly demonstrated just how crass and retrograde our modern approach to design is. I had the (mis)fortune recently to visit the Baltic in Gateshead - marvellous old industrial building of character on the outside, well maintained and restored, but internally completely destroyed and characterless, reduced to a bland 'modernity'. And the exhibits were just too trite and banal to bother about. We've lost it, I'm afraid.
The irony is that Supermac's (sic) is hardly short of a few bob, but look at the state of the rear elevation - all fur coat and nae knickers, as we used to say. If that's how they maintain their property, don't even ask about the state of their kitchen. You have been warned! And whatever happened to the planning notion of 'over-advertising'? Does Dublin have a planning department at all?
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby StephenC » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:53 am

A smashing analysis as always. Its rather a shame that this building hasnt been valued as it should over the years and I agree that Supermacs very crass shopfront detracts considerabley fro what should be a flagship builidng on the street. Ideally the whole use of these premises should change. But at the very least some tlc to the paintwork and a more sympathetic shopfront are called for.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby Rory W » Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:10 pm

I've vague recollections of the ground floor of this before it was converted to KFC (which preceeded Supermacs in this building) and the ground floor was very similar to the Elverys pic and hadn't had its windows ripped out at that stage.

It was the public office for the Irish Press Group if I recall rightly and in the area of the windows above the main pane (in the leaded area) there were small panels of different coloured glass.

But all this was ripped out and replaced with the upvc when the Colonel came to town...
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby StephenC » Tue Jul 21, 2009 12:48 pm

Finger lickin good...
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby GrahamH » Tue Jul 21, 2009 10:19 pm

:D

Aha thanks for that Rory. The early 90s seems just about right for the installation of the aluminium. A shame the original glazing was removed so recently. Another handful of years and it could have been saved...

Fully agreed the entire building should be appropriated for a more suitable use - it would be ideal as an airy elegant retail premises spread over three floors, or a perfectly positioned cafe and restaurant (not of the current 'family' variety) with sweeping views of the Lower street through its dual aspect ranks of glittering bay windows. Residential could also be neatly incorporated into the attic storeys. Ludicrously, it appears most of these upper floors are largely redundant at present, as with much of O'Connell Street.

Far from the common perception that McDonald's et al, as supposedly faceless international corporations, have poor presention standards, they are model operators compared with their Irish equivalents such as Supermac's and Abrakebabra. The Irish outlets show scant regard for their own principal thoroughfare, and indeed actively exploit its heavy footfall to trashy effect, with banners, flags, postering, full-scale window blankouts, and music blasting onto the street through externally mounted speakers. The much-vaunted Irish 'success story' at its pinnacle I'm sure.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby lostexpectation » Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:42 am

you should print these things out and post a copy to the building owners, the fastfood restaurant, the dcc and paste it outside the building aswell.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby johnglas » Wed Jul 22, 2009 10:50 am

It would be fascinating to get a direct responce from someone actually working (or who has worked) as a planner in Dublin, assuming they have any professional integrity at all.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby Morlan » Wed Jul 22, 2009 2:13 pm

Thanks for that, Graham. Good read.


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Good to see the DCC doing their job in enforcing the IAP.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby kceire » Wed Jul 22, 2009 3:17 pm

lostexpectation wrote:you should print these things out and post a copy to the building owners, the fastfood restaurant, the dcc and paste it outside the building aswell.


make it and i will personally place it on the desk of the Area Planner.
I wish i had a more influential role within DCC, but mayeb some day.

Excellent posts Graham.
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby kinsella » Wed Jul 22, 2009 5:05 pm

Brilliant posts Graham H - I always look forward to them.

Are you on a good retainer from Archiseek? ;)
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Re: O' Connell Street

Postby GrahamH » Thu Jul 23, 2009 7:48 pm

Not that I'm aware of kinsella. Unless you know something I don't? ;)

Thanks kceire for your offer. Feel free to do what you like with the above or any other information posted on here which may lead to constructive ends. Frankly, it ain't my job to be chasing after authorities with such basic material, nor should I have to, as often as I - and many others - do. It's all rather tiresome to be honest.
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