Reply To: Anyone see the Patrick Scott Programme?

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Right, and I passed out NGI today and saw a sign for Turner. That is the point I have been trying to make elsewhere – that in large public buildlings nowadays, you need to consider crowds of people, behaviours of people in galleries, a heck of a lot of walking to get there, and when you get there to walk around and actually see anything. I have cited the example of Steven Holl’s Berlin LIbrary competition entry – a much bigger city/institution – and a very daring attempt to deal in some architectural fashion with the huge amount of movement, disorientation, and scale problem associated with large public buildings.

Notice how ‘disused’ the older part of the National Gallery of Ireland now has become. Look at our attempt at doing a Central Dubin Library in the Illac centre – look at our attempt at doing Libraries in general. An AAI lecture recently made the point though, that things like the Kunstal aren’t designed to be around for very long. I mean, I think we could do a lot more as architects designing projects which are better to experience, but perhaps aren’t built to last. Especially now, given that land values and sites are probably more valuable that the developments on them.

It is terrible when we take a very strategic site in Dubin somewhere and just build another huge concrete immoveable object, which will ‘exist’ on that site for hundreds of years to come, and long past its original functionality. I think one good way ‘into’ the architecture of Rem Koolhaas, would be to study the whole argument of public buildings in this way. His Library in Seattle for instance – isn’t the grey, big great public institutional bunker that people would have felt entirely comfortable with – that their ‘money’ had gone to good civic use. But it does probably offer a nice ‘new’ Library, which might bring in new generations of ‘readers’ to do the function of what a Library is meant to do in the first place – i.e. to make the idea of reading happen in a cool, well lighted exciting space, that young people from all backgrounds might just bite at – not just become “a big, huge, grey, monolithic, but ultimately impersonal proper use of public funds”.

Ditto, applies to smaller regional institutions – the Dooradoyle Library in Limerick by Burke, Kennedy, Doyle designed by Alan Begley I think, being a good example of what I mean. I would argue, how many more people is the new wing of NGI going to bring in, of people appreciating art, education etc. Just by the exciting nature of the spaces it created. Mind you the security guys walking around in uniforms are still as nasty.

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