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๐Ÿ™ Although I have a lot of respect for the work Howard Holdings has and continues (even more so these past few months) to achieve in Cork – after a close inspection of their plans for a 7-storey, 125-bedroom hotel and retail and office development at Lavitts Quay – I have to issue a sigh of disappointment. Reddy O’Riordan Staehli have produced what is quite an awful awful building. Height is not an issue – and I have to say, the internal layout and basement parking provisions are thoughtful – but the general design is among thee most hideous to arrive at Naviagtion House.

Howard Holdings acquired the 16 Lavitts Quay lands in a deal with Thomas Crosbie Holdings – the land went in part payment for 30,000sq ft of new Irish Examiner and Evening Echo office space at Howard Holdings’ City Quarter development on Lapps Quay. TCH had previously attained planning for a 7-storey office building (which was initially to provide the new Irish Examiner HQ before the move to City Quarter) designed by O’Riordan Staehli for 16 Lavitts Quay – it wasn’t pretty, but it wasn’t ugly either. Just a little lazy. Though I had been aware of the Howard Holdings/TCH deal since early last year, and learned of Howard Holdings plans for Lavitts Quay – I never actually got around to viewing the early drawings of their hotel development. O’Riordan Staehli had been retained by HH from their deal with TCH.

What the hotel design effectively amounts to is this: similar to the Irish Examiner HQ, the building fronts onto Lavitts Quay at numbers 17 & 18 (16 is retained and incorporated) with a contemporary element of the building 3-storeys high. Basement parking is provided off Lavitts Quay at this point – and in fairness the frontage along the quay isn’t actually all that bad. Trouble starts as the buidling steps back to a plain white wall seven storeys high. At the 5th and 6th storeys a square teak box with seemingly the only 4 windows on the frontage, projects approx. 3-feet out, retracting to allow the 7th storey provide more plain white wall. It squares off like a huge brick. R. Arthur (Electricians/former Balloon Surprise premises) who refused to sell his property to TCH originally, has forced the buidling to cut an angular edge in it’s structure before fronting to the east on Half Moon Street – this elevation is pretty acceptable also. However, the jutted angle has no more than 6 box windows and is essentially a continuance of the plain white 7-storey frontage. Just 2 boxes, no design. If this is contemporary architecture – its very bad contemporary architecture. If it’s meant to be cutting edge, the edge is bleeding to death. The building looks utterly out of place with 16 Lavitts Quay (which is being retained) and even O’Callaghan Properties far more elegant and thoughtfully designed 21 Lavitts Quay (Patrick Cashman & Associates). The building may perhaps be acceptable were it to have an actually deisgn – or even if the Lavitts Quay frontage on the first 3 floors continued upward, incorporating more windows to take advanage of the beautiful water-frontage, and were the 7th floor now simply a square box, but perhaps a copper roof rounded back at it’s summit. The only other building that almost suits being alongside this disaster is the North Wall of the Opera House (before Murray O’Laoire updated it). On viewing the HH hotel development for Lavitts Quay, I only wish I had availed to view it earlier when asked – as the VIS passed before sight-line recently, I can only describe my facial reaction as the following -> ๐Ÿ˜ฎ

๐Ÿ™‚ On a lighter brighter note, the Further Information submitted by Cumnor Construction regarding its Sundays Well project has certainly changed mind on the project. Although initially I was oppose to the 7-storey apartment block, I have to say, Jack Coughlan & Associates have provided what is, in effect, one of their better designs of recent times. The building has been altered mildly but effectively – visual intrusion and spoil to the surrounding areas has been minimised signifcantly and through clever angular changes, structural rearrangements and innoative additions. The resident amenity area and gardens – with water landscaping is utterly charming, yet very contemporary. The balconies are designed to match the wooden decking that surrounds the building – and the red-brick former shop and bar fronting Sundays Well Road has been tastefully incorporated into the overall development. Its clear now why Further Information took so long to be submitted by Cumnor and JCA. It has won me over despite my original distaste for the project. ๐Ÿ˜€

phatman – regarding Habitat, Michael O’Donoghue (through a certain agent – affliated with Knight Frank, among others) had been in discussions with UK Department Chain John Lewis – as posted previously. Although I am aware discussions with Habitat, H&M and Zara (as well as others) had also taken place. John Lewis had been seeking a suitable southern Ireland location for a new department store. To the best of my knowledge, talks were still on-going with a number of tenants – however as Habitat having been strongly pushing for space in the development, it is no surprise that Rockfell Investments (Michael O’Donoghue) may indeed be looking to use his 9 retail units (= 120,000sq ft) for individual tenants as oppose to a department store entirely. That is not to say he may yet offer remaining units for such a use. CCC has however been anxiously trying to push bulky goods retail out of the city centre. I can know for sure by tonight if you want. Depending, I may also be able to get you a few other names. I’ll get back to you on it.

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