Reply To: Patrick Abercrombie & His Plan for Dublin

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Paul Clerkin

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In 1916 the Civics Institute of Ireland held a competition for suggestions and designs for the city planning of Dublin of which the judges were Patrick Geddes (1854-1932), the Dublin City Architect C.J. McCarthy (1858-1947), and John Nolen. The winner was Patrick Abercrombie of Liverpool University. This competitive design formed the basis of the Abercrombie Report published in 1922 which, apart from recommending a site at Aston Quay for a Central Bus Station, also suggested the removal of Butt Bridge (which was then in a dangerous state) and the completion of the crescent around the Custom House by filling in the redundant dock. Since the dock’s construction, the docks had expanded and moved further down river. In addition a new bridge positioned centrally in front of the Custom House was to be constructed and Amiens Street Railway Station extended down to the quayside. All the buildings surrounding the Custom House were to be rebuilt in a Beaux Arts style with the station closing off the Abbey Street vista with a huge colonnade. Abercrombie was influenced personally as an architect by the École des Beaux Arts in Paris and particularly by Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann (1809-1891) whose city planning of Paris he admired. It was reported in The Irish Times that Abercrombie felt that it was necessary:

… to complete a crescent surrounding the Custom House with buildings for offices of similar purposes which would form a regular setting for the central building, The design of these buildings as shown in his Dublin report of 1922, was of a Renaissance character but they might quite equally well have been carried out in a more modern idiom. In any case he thought it would have been necessary for the surrounding buildings to be considerably higher than the Custom House.

For anyone interested, the 1941 report:

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