Reply To: A city constrained by a Frank McDonald credo would be ‘dismal and prissy’ –

Home Forums Ireland A city constrained by a Frank McDonald credo would be ‘dismal and prissy’ – Reply To: A city constrained by a Frank McDonald credo would be ‘dismal and prissy’ –


@republicofcork wrote:

what has happened to lavitts quay. it is obvious to everyone that the development is too big. it is too high. in less economically sucessful times Mr O’Callaghan could have argued that he needed the floor areas to justify the development of the site but he owned most if not all of it for years. he cannot be excused for ignoring local context and squeezing so much from our environment to his benefit and our loss. this is the point. there are many good developments in cork that take a reasonable amount of return from a site and many responsable developers give the city long term and context specific developments.

Firstly, please consider

1. The development’s massing and height were in part devised consequent of prelanning discussions with consideration for a number of aspects – including, the benchmark height also being set by the adjoining permission by Thomas Crosbie Holdings for new Irish Examiner offices, designed by O’Riordan Staehli Architects]
the city belongs to us. it is the capital of the county and it expresses our values and our views in our time. the development at lavitts quay seriously lets us down and while we may wish to see the site developed we forget how the dereliction has been created. we have lost the respect for the city as an entity. this loss of respect for us and our city and our lack of confidence and civic pride is centrally demonstrated by this inconsiderate, possibly wellmeaning but greed driven development.[/QUOTE]

3. The city belongs to all those that call it home – indeed. It is the representative of the broader county, I know some lads from West Cork who may argue that :p , but generally it is the accepted first destination associated with the county. However, our views are varied, the city is not a collective representation of each individual – if that were the case, those that do no qualify within the constraint brackets of the supposed collective representation would be neglected. Not everyone has a quarter of a million euros to buy a new home, not everyone likes milk in their cornflakes – that is what makes any society, and in the context of this argument, Cork, interesting. It is the collective mix. Each deserving of its expression – in indeed in many ways this is represented physically (in some instances) through our buildings. So does that call for a uniform pattern of structures? How exclusive would that be? Remember, our needs are represented by the demand we bestow upon our needs – individuals within our society interpret those needs and address their satisfaction which is rewarded through our custom i.e. bread and the baker, health and the medic, design and the architect etc. Dereliction is often the result where previously held interests associated with a structure or site have moved on. When a site is acquired by a third party, the interests of that third party may not necessarily rest with the previous incarnation of that structure and or site. As mentioned above, this is consequent of the variation of ideas, habits, rituals etc etc that form the fabric of our community. If the same principles and ideologies of one party rest with the other, then the uniform ideology would be the conservation of that building and/site but in the holistic scheme of things this would lead to a stagnant society where uniform ideologies make no room for variation – and thus, no progression. However, having said that, the retention of structures should be pronounced from a universal recognition of its historic or individualistic value. This recognition is generally conveyed at a public level through protected lists compiled by public sources. Where buildings are not documented for retention but are indeed said to enjoy merit, their retention is generally a discretionary advantage held by a proprietor – however the case for their retention can be made by third parties, quite rightfully in many instances, subject to the deliberation of a regulatory power (i.e. a planning authority). A good case for retention generally highlights the unique nature of a structure, how this came about and how a community would be worse off without it.

4. I disagree that respect, pride and confidence is lost in Cork. Pride seems more buoyant than ever – if it’s not sporting or cultural – take architecture as the case in check. The rise of debate in architecture, in Cork, over the passed few years has been extraordinary. It has been afforded by our economic terms, we are in a position now to do so, and I for one am glad. I like to think that the Cork threads in this forum have been participant in this – and as republicofcork is highlighting himself by participation here, it is. The fact that more and more public voices are now being heard concerning the development of our city is a clear sign that pride is alive and well, if not, growing. Public demand for higher and higher standards of architecture are clear representation of this. The public are more aware and in a better position to comment now, and the knowledge that they can voice their opinion on what is and what is not being built around their city is evidence of the esteem in which they hold their city and its future. I began participating in born of my pride in the city – I see it as having a long long way to go yet before it reaches its goals, but I see it on the way and I see its potential.

5. When you say ‘well-meaning’ but ‘greed driven’ – how is greed attached to the former? It’s somewaht a contradiction – ‘greed’ signifies anything but ‘well-meaning’. For me, 21 Lavitts Quay is about a progression toward potential – it may not be 100% perfect, but it represents a positive step in the learning process that we must undertake to find the appropriate pathway to achieving a potential which benefits the people and fabric of this city. For me, 21 Lavitts Quay (as with general development) is not about either of the phrases you highlight. It is about satisfying a function, a demand or a need whilst utilising the requirements of a location (with an eye firmly on the future – after all, when embarking on any project it is about assessing the present to engage in the future) and implementing various fundamentals to satisfy these requirements – i.e. to progress quayside rejuvenation, to promote public benefit – whether aesthetical (replacing views of a multi-storey with a more pleasing provision with a context to future development; breaking insular layout monopolies associated with the existing city centre to allow embracement of extended facets of the city centre – i.e. utilising the quaysides – and consequently enhancing the public realm; offering more choice etc etc etc). In this capacity, ‘inconsiderate’ is a phrase found wanting. Within the context of the surrounding structures – again, see Point 1.

@republicofcork wrote:

any strong city would recognise the necessity to maintain a sense of scale in this area, to maintain a sense of material quality and maintain a sence of continuity in the environment of the quay. a confident city would maintain a sence of respect for the environment by building a large building that did not compete with the public buildings in the area for attention. a confident city would not allow a building that did not reinforce the character of the city but took from it instead. cork has allowed this building that is out of context and does not even understand the simplest of architectural devices. the expression of this building on plan and in elevation discontinues the line of the quay and generally serves its own needs and ignores those of the city environment. it is anti society.

6. Perhaps the sense of scale could be attributed to issues concerned in the 1960s – i.e. the Opera House, saying that, its previous site occupant was a rather large structure in itself. More than any other building along this stretch of quay, the monotonous and ugly North Wall of Cork Opera House dominates the quayside. If 21 Lavitts Quay has achieved anything, it has been to minimise the impact of this structure with a more aesthetical considerate provision – and with view to prospective initiatives. I do not believe the project ‘takes’ from the city, and reiterate you to consider the greater context before it is realised. The material finish has been well considered – I dispute your argumenet stating otherwise, clearly effort has been afforded the final cladding finish concerning the office/commercial element which could so easily have reverted to a cheap zinc-cladded coating. Meanwhile, the variation in roof heights and angles breaks up the buildings mass and offers distinction in the different sections of the scheme. The western elevation transits to a red-brick finish in compliment to the Clarke building at the corner of Paul’s Avenue.

7. Considering its allowance by Cork (Cork City Council’s Planning Department I assume you mean) – consider the context: the building was applied for in face of numerous adversities. As an office scheme, it was permitted on one point with consideration to the threat of services migration – the lack of appropriate office space in Cork city centre had been driving tenants out of the area to locations in the suburbs and beyond to developments like Cork Airport Business Park, for example. To this end many of the buildings, you refer generally too suffered for unoccupation and demise. As an active location for work and office use, the city was faultering. To curve this dangerous trend, Cork Corporation (at the time) permitted developments such as 21 Lavitts Quay, such as CityQuarter, No.5 & No.6 Lapps Quay etc as a means of attracting back tenants into city centre locations. As a knock on, increased activity in the city centre has generated the area to a more attractive business location position. Smaller unit uptake in areas such as those as South Mall has also increased with smaller, start-up or ‘dependent’ firms taking up these initially taking up these smaller, lower rent units while larger firms shift to more appropriate 3rd Generation office spaces. Indeed unit vacanies in the traditional locations has fluctuated somewhat, but this is a natural part of a reassessed playing field which has now provided a more attractive balance in the Cork office market – and promoted activity in the city centre which has in itself has knock-on effects to other city centre uses (e.g. retail, food services, leisure etc). 21 Lavitts Quay played an important part in the realisation of this strategy. The final planning approval by CCC to Hilltrent (the OCP SPV) clearly notes the Cork office scenario in this case, stating too many tenants have been lost to Cork city centre in light of poor provision and insufficient office types). To have an active city centre you need active uses. Similarly, the residential element at 21 Lavitts Quay (a proposal slated as far back as the late 1990s), was justified on the trend of population migration – city centre residential population had decreased census-on-census 1996 to 2002. The relocation generally benefit suburban and metropolitan Cork as residents, in light of poor supply and poor services, left the city centre. As part of strategy to increase residential activity with city parameters, CCC encourgaed higher density, high quality development to promote the city as an attractive residential alternative. Facts and figures thus far have indicated a high level of investor activity but an increasing owner-occupiership which is now being encouraged by CCC demanding for larger units with more bedrooms – success is being heeded, with further family-sized units being realised at developments like Eglinton Street, Water Street and Paul Kenny’s recent proposal along the Douglas Road seeking permission for 4-bedroom apartment units. 21 Lavitts Quay itself has been successful in attracting many owner-occupiers and has provided generally spacious units. An important consideration of CCC has been to assure constant city centre activity and life – avoiding the ills endured by city’s like Frankfurt-am-Main which sees its city centre effectively ‘close down’ come the weekend when all the businessmen have gone home! To this end, 21 Lavitts Quay has not ignored the city environment, it is part of the puzzle in providing greater diversity and usage to the city centre, and is far from ‘anti-society’.

Also, I don’t understand how you praise Cork as a great city and then criticise it noting ‘any strong city would recognise the necessity to…etc’ ???

@republicofcork wrote:

this is not a matter of opinion as some try to argue [an argument of those less educated in a subject]. the ignorance of respect for the environment and character of cork expresses to us the whole basis of the building.

8. I’m sorry, but it seems here that you are almost implying those without a strict architectural or engineering background possess invalid opinion? I believe the dynamics of a city is beyond the sole reserve of planners, architects and those you note as being ‘less educated in the subject’. Part of the problem in this debate is the lack of greater inclusion – though it is the responsibility, I would accept, that those that participate, verse themselves in the fundamentals of what it is they discuss. Even so, part of the great success of this forum, for example, has been its ability to breach the barriers of exclusivity and open to all those who exhibit an interest or consideration for the built environment. The forum, in my opinion, operates as an excellent learning tool for the broader public to recognise and learn about the value of architecture and how it impacts their lives. Knocking the input of those ‘less educated’ essentially invalidates approximately half the input of those who participate in the forum who do not have any strict professional education in the fields of architecture, planning, design, engineering etc and who exhibit equally warranted opinions in the field of interest. The very reason they participate is to feed their interest, to learn and perhaps inspire – boxing them out of the debate is half the problem when it comes to architectural debate and I don’t accept it.

@republicofcork wrote:

we and our environment are being ignored to serve the needs of the few. this is like the globalisation of our environment,out of our control. those we pay to run our city have ignored us and allowed this disproportioate and decorated postmodern wedding cake, ignorant of even widely accepted architectural devices to add even further destruction to our environment.

9. Those we pay to run our city have more to consider than simply design – though this is a most important facet, there is no argument on that. In deliberating permissions, they must consider long-term strategies, benefit vs disbenefit, socio-economic considerations, finance, aims and goals, planning law, health, regional development trends and so on.Please note Point 7. If pure design was considered time and time again, without any consideration for the other factors necessary of consideration – little progress would ever be made. Design is an important ‘link’ between all such considerations, that’s good design – the ability to think of and above form.

@republicofcork wrote:

the central fact here is that we still havent recognised how individual and specific the environment of cork city is. it still is an very specific environment and even a small amount of study of this environment should allow us to keep the thread of identity that runs through the city. good design comes from the study of the devices of past societies and context….

10. See Points 1,3 and 7.

@republicofcork wrote:

it isnt just a matter of opinion. the recognisable design thread that is is specific to us in cork and it exists in many cities in different ways eg. barcelona, paris, bath, venice …… is a central thread of identity that inspires consideration of the existing fabric and promotes confident and modern development and a strong long term economic climate. the development on lavitts quay erodes this thread that is our identity and erodes our confidence and our prospects to form a considerate and optomistic environment for our children. this building would seem dated, nieve and out of place in an average airport business park.

11. If opinion is invalid in design, explain why some works are championed by architectural peers and others critiqued. I would think opinion is very much a part of design. The fundamental devices that constitute ‘design’ are like the foundations of a building, whatever is built on top of that is subject to the unique interpretations of the individual designer based on his understanding of those principles. This is what gives us variety in architecture and makes for a more dynamic and interesting built environment. Opinion and preference are interlinked in that they are interpretations of a individual’s architectural phenotype – sometimes these are influenced by practice design philosophies, which given some projects for the same firms identifiable or trademark attributes. Furthermore, if it isn’t simply a matter of opinion, there is no need for debate on the fundamentals, but there is – this is consequent of opinion. General ideas can be agreed on i.e. building a skyscraper in the rural countryside looks out of place (unless that’s the aim!!!) – however, the individual twists are those which make architecture so interesting.

@republicofcork wrote:

why Mr O’Callaghan feels we deserve nothing more than this in our great city is beyond understanding.
anger often represents guilt Mr O’Callaghan and you seem to be angry. the little respect you have for us as you negativly exploit our environment is being recognised. bring back the Crawfords who gave us great schools and Art Galleries. we dont want developers that do not respect us, our great city or our environment.

12. Guilt – anger? Well so does undue criticism. Is modern architecture simply not your preference? Are you angry about that? What do you consider good architecture in the modern day. Indeed some wonderful buildings have been provided and with care, in the past. But are we to squander in those days or explore the opportunities that exist in our time? I personally have a penchant for the detail and craft on many historic works, but are we to confine ourselves in one manner of thinking? And the Crawford Art Gallery was not originally built as so.

@republicofcork wrote:

in relation to the merchants quay it is not just that this building created a quayside that was destitute and empty but that the development decanted the interest of many different people from the area and instead of adding to our environment it took from us the vibrancy of a european city where many different property owners have an interest in an area. we lost a grain and atmosphere that is unique and developes over hundreds of years. this kind of environment can be wiped in a few months. the merchants quay anf the lavitts quay development are like a tumour within a city grain that remained unspoilet and in economic and environmental equilibrium over hundreds of years. in recession we should have helped these areas to survive and pull through not left them to the single ideas of one developer. what a loss for us and for our city.

13. When people go to criticise the likes of MQ, the forget one thing – time. MQ, along with many many other shopping centres built not only in Ireland, but throughout Ireland and the world – recognised the preferrable format as being an ‘inward’ looking one. Shop fronts opened out onto internal malls – of course, since that time, we have and continue to learn – that especially in the context of urban retail development, such a format is less desireable say to that of one that utilises its existing, outer environment. Schemes such as those at Mullingar Town Centre or Athlone Town Centre – and even Ballincollig Town Centre – have understood this and are no seeking its implementation. As Frank McDonald said, it is a product of its time – a time when the philosophy toward urban shopping centre design spoke in one predominant direction. It has become part of the ongoing learning process in architectural evolution. To blame OCP for this mentality is shallow and short-sighted – it formed part of a wider ideology. In fact, with Academy Street, OCP are seeking to employ this developed knowledge by utilising street-fronts with active uses along both Academy Street and Faulkner’s Lane – embracing the environment and incoporating into the active streetscape. Not the other way around.

14. As for unspoilt economic and environmental equlibrium – did you consider the economic state exactly? This reasoning is flawed. The city was subject to a variety of economic duldrums, not least Ford, Dunlop and associated industry closures and the mass unemployment which followed. The imposition of such a climate threatened the long term economic and environmental sustainability of Cork. The context is well documented. Merchant’s Quay, for many reasons including those mentioned, had suffered from environmenatl delapidation at the hands of such woes – but also for issues mentioned in earlier points. O’Callaghan Properties and the Heron Property Company were among the few individuals willing to invest in such a risky climate and spur on the recovery of the city centre economic climate in part. Please see earlier posts in this thread documenting this. What a loss our city would have been without it – it has allowed us enjoy a position in which we can comfortably critique design which would otherwise, perhaps, not have been there.

@republicofcork wrote:

there is no recession now and there are no excuses why we have to be served up this childlike development. Mr O’Callaghan please get some better advice and show us that you have the maturity to think of the future of our society as much as the future of your cheque book.

15. Despite criticism, OCP are among the most forward thinking development companies in the region – they are, in my opinion, starting to recognise the same dimensions as many others in the development – the benefit of good design. It seems that many in the development industry are, like the car industry and saftey, recognising the benefits associated with considerate design. Slowly, good design is not seen as an ‘extra cost’ but as a tool in selling the product, so to speak. People/businesses like to be associated with good design – a recent HOK seminar highlighted this fact. Demand is now stating, ‘we want good design’ – the demand is mounting. Furthermore, planning authorities and the public are demanding increasingly higher standards. This is no bad thing, I’m delighted – the bar can never be pushed high enough. There is no argument against better design, that is my own wish and cause and there is no dispute on the wish to see better standards imposed. Is MQ acceptable nowadays given the evolution and learning acquired? No, certainly not – but I don’t knock the purpose and benefit it afforded Cork at the time (on that matter, MQ may be due a revamp – will have to wait and see). As I’ve said, there is no bar high enough in seeking better design and what we have learned must be utilise to push our own standards (and in the context of international design standards) higher and higher. 🙂

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