Reply To: National Photographic Archive
It certainly would be extraordinary to see it in ‘real life’ alright – good point about buildings now not being willing to simply blend into the streetscape – most notably the Schuh building on O’ Cll St in a garish sand colour. Not only was no attempt made to be sympathetic to neighbouring buildings and materials, the developer didn’t even bother to clad it in red sandstone instead of the present eyesore – one need only look at how well the colour works on the building beside the Mansion House. But the CC were tripping over themselves to grant permission to anyone willing to put up anything of a contemporary nature in place of the 70s disasters and so we end up with a contribution to the street it could do without.
What I think desperately needs to be done as part of the IAP is to return Westmoreland St to its former splendour and unify as much of it as possible. As it stands there is but a single WSC building in its original condition left on the street, next to the EBS, with exposed mellow red brick and the trademark granite window dressings on the first floor.
The rest of the street is comprised of Victorians from the short College St – Fleet St/Fenian St axis, but importantly mainly WSC buildings from here onwards to the river. This whole stretch is so tatty and cheap, with an incoherent mix of rendered-over WSC buildings painted different colours, the Ballast Office and the disgraceful intrusion of the mock-Georgian rubbish of the Blood Bank/ex-Man Utd shop, which wasn’t supposed to be built anyway along with the shimmering cubes of the EBS.
Every tax incentive under the sun should be offered to property owners to strip back the render-jobs, none of which even have stucco detailing or pediments except Bewleys – and in the interest of the street as a whole I think these should be removed. Indeed most buildings still have the granite surrounds, some merely painted over.
Replica facades should be built over the Blood Bank building, which was supposed to be done in the first place, and a state-interest in the building perhaps could help. I think the EBS should have replica facades built too, not least over the woeful granite and glass wing, with the Lafayette building maintained – moving it to another location is an interesting possibility but it could work quite well reflecting the tall and narrow Beshoffs across the road. With the exception of these two buildings this entire stretch could be unified, and re-emerge as the city’s second street, with a very limited amount of ‘scenery building’ as it were.
Essentially all the ingredients are already there – just concealed under a layer of lime mortar and magnolia paint.
This street could literally redefine the city centre; it has always been Dublin’s problem that all of its Georgian heritage lies outside the trodden routes and commercial core, resulting in some areas of the centre being mediocre and bland.
To return Westmoreland as much as is practicable to its Georgian state would inject that grand feeling and clear definition of space that the centre needs – contributing to the axis from College Green, the street itself, the views from O’ Cll Bridge and the quays, and of course O’ Cll St.
Of course it would require a lot of effort, influence, arm-twisting (wrenching more like it) and money, and perhaps the idea is overly simplistic, but it would contribute so much to the city and would be worth more than the effort injected into 100 of the likes of Grattan Bridge combined.