1976 – Dublin Corporation Offices, Wood Quay, Dublin
The site at Wood Quay had been earmarked as a site for the headquarters of Dublin Corporation since the 1950s. This design by Sam Stephenson was chosen after an architectural competition in 1968. Originally the intention was to consist of four monumental granite clad blocks linked by a low glass atrium. The two blocks at the rear of the site were to be taller allowing the building to descend towards the river. However after construction began, the remains of the Viking city were found preserved beneath the site as well as a long section of the medieval city walls. This was to be the most important find on the viking beginnings of Dublin, and one of the most important viking sites anywhere in Europe.
After a period of some years, court cases, site invasions, excavations of the site, and much negative publicity, the Corporation finally began to built the complex. Their nerve did not hold and after Phase I was completed, the remainder of the project was suspended – never to be completed. The ground around the two blocks were landscaped and the remains of the city wall piled up in a basement.
Stephenson’s blocks have deep inset slotlike rows of glazing but have an overall monumental bunker-like quality. The Dublin civic offices were known to their critics as “the bunkers”. Never popular, and although hard to judge properly as never completed, they remain an unfortunate insertion beside Christ Church Catherdal and into the medieval streetplan.